Winter Training Tips for Triathletes

My friends back in the US told me that it SNOWED on the east coast today, and it’s not a whole lot warmer here.  So now that winter is clearly upon us (a bit early, I might add…), I thought I’d kick off the sudden change in seasons with some tips from some already-decent triathlons, runners and coaches.  If you have tips of your own for winter survival, please feel free to tell us under the comments:

  • “Always make sure you eat within 20 minutes of any winter training session, for ultimate recovery. My favourites are cherry-chocolate Mega-Burn bars – ultra-healthy so I don’t feel guilty eating them.” – Michelle Dillon (Two-time Olympian & winner of 2007 London Triathlon)
  • Strength & Training – Make sure you get advice around your strength training from an expert but focus on periods, with the first period about getting the technique right (6-8 week), then adding some weight and increasing the intensity and finally a power phase. This will help for all 3 of your sports. – Absolute Triathlon Coaching
  • “Enjoy the odd break, enjoy the temptation of the winter months. You are a triathlete, so any weight will soon come off when you’re back to full training. Eat healthily and sensibly, but allow yourself things you like; otherwise, life isn’t fun.” Steve Trew (Olympic coach and Commonwealth Welsh team manager)
  • The best way to keep up your fitness over the winter is to be crazy. Crazyness can be learned if you practice it. I would love coming home from a 6-7 am run in January with ice on my eyebrows right when my room-mates would be waking up. The crazy workouts are the workouts you remember. – Grant Lerdahl

  • Go Mountain Biking – During the winter spend time on doing some mountain biking, this will not only improve you riding but also help with gear selection and keep you off the roads in winter. Remember never go out on your bike in icy conditions – it just isn’t worth it. Absolute Triathlon Coaching
  • “Don’t change your diet radically, but remember you do have to eat more when it is cold outside.” Will Clarke (Olympic Triathlete & 2006 under-23 ITU World Champion)
  • “Tell yourself that training in the miserable winter makes you a mentally stronger athlete. In the Madrid World Cup last May, athletes from hotter countries suffered with the rain and cold, whereas us tough Brits stuck it out.” – Hollie Avil (2008 Corus British National Champion)

Triathlete Kevin Izzard Training in the snow.

  • One trick to avoiding winter burnout is keeping a long term mindset. It’s hard to do long endurance rides on indoor trainers all winter long. What helps me was to remember that I was doing the long slow rides all winter so I could do spring speed work. Building endurance first then speed is the proven method for endurance sports. Don’t think about your races in March or May when you are training in December, it’s simply too far away to get me excited. What does work is remembering you are training your endurance, so you can train your speed, so you can race. – Grant Lerdahl
  • Training too hard during the off season will make you feel burnt out when you want to perform your best. This is why it is best to take a fun and learning approach to training during the winter months. – Coach Jay Marschall
  • Don’t over do the indoor bike sessions, remember to get outside!  …there are various options for shortening bike and run sessions to still get effective training during the winter, but there is no real substitute for getting outside and putting the miles in! – Garry at Intelligent Triathlon Training
  • There is no such thing as inappropriate weather, only inappropriate clothing. – “Avoneer”
  • The system most used for energy in endurance sports like triathlon, is the aerobic system. In fact ,95% of an Olympic distance triathlon is done aerobically. This is why during the offseason months(Oct- March), the majority of your training should be done at an aerobic heartrate. The best way to do this is with the use of a heartrate monitor. Coach Jay Marschall
How will YOU be training this winter??
To subscribe to this blog, enter your e-mail & click the “Subscribe” button on the right sidebar.

The Top 10 of Indoor Ironman Training

The common line of thinking is that indoor training for triathlon – be it a sprint or an Ironman – is a punishment.  I’ll never survive the next six months with an attitude like that!  Thus I give you The Top 10 of Indoor Ironman Training…
  1. Winter training is just as easy to plan as summer training
  2. Wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to bed?  Why not hop on the trainer for a few hours?
  3. Heating the house is much cheaper – from what I can tell, 5 minutes in my room equals about one degree Fahrenheit.
  4. Constant resistance.  1 hour on the trainer = 1.5 on the road…More free time!
  5. Not being on the road for the changing seasons.  It keeps me from dumping money into more gear every day (with a bike shop at mile 5 of my rides in NYC, I swear every ride cost me a minimum of $30).
  6. The bike constantly cries for attention – it’s very hard to ignore there, basically sitting on the couch next to me, so missing workouts is much harder.
  7. No 5:00 a.m. wake-up calls to get a swim lane.
  8. Forget something on a bike ride, and only realize 15 miles in?  For me, it’s still only 15 feet away.
  9. Hot and humid race venue to prep for?  No problem!  Just close the window.
  10. Catching up on TV has never felt so healthy

To follow this blog, click subscribe on the right sidebar.

New Way to Kona and One Gutsy Performance

Two pretty cool stories have come out of the aftermath of the Ironman World Championships in Kona.  The first is that WTC, the governing body (read: the private equity firm that owns the brand) for branded Ironman events around the world, has just announced a new way for age groupers to get their foot in the door at the World Championships – a dream for most everyone who races the 70.3 or full IM distance.

Ben Hoffman riding the famous lava fields of The Big Island

According to this article, now it seems that the long-termers who commit themselves to qualifying but can never quite get fast enough to make it to The Big Island will now have a back-door to the promise land – but you REALLY have to want to get there.  How’s that, you ask?  Well, apparently ALL you have to do is complete 12 full-distance Ironman-branded events and you’re there!  Pretty cool incentive, I must say.

ON ANOTHER NOTE, did you see Chrissie Wellington‘s crazy win at this year’s Kona en route to her 4th Ironman World Championship in just 5 years (I have to say that it would have been 5 in 5 years if she could have raced last year)???  Having crashed her bike just a few weeks from starting at Kona, she risked not competing for the second straight year because of health issues.  This time, she told the Twitter universe and her blog readers that a crash brought her some pretty nasty road rash.

Chrissie's road rash...there's more than meets the eye.

Not that it wasn’t true…there’s just MUCH more to the story.  Hiding the true nature of her injuries from everyone – including her closest competitors – in the lead-up to the race, Chrissie got all hard-core on us and worked through some serious stuff.  Apparently in this little crash incident, she also tore her intercostal muscle and her left pectoral – some key muscles when it comes to swimming, getting aero on a tri bike, or really moving without pain in any way.  Just a few days before the race, Chrissie had to stop just 1 km into a swim workout, in tears from the pain.  T-minus 5 days to the race, and she’s in the hospital trying to figure out how to make it through the  day.

But lo and behold, being the hard-core yet perpetually jubilant kick-ass triathlete she is, she toed the line on race day.  Usually a lead swimmer, she exited the water 10 minutes back, and then spent 112 miles on the bike between 12-14 minutes behind the race leader – another very unusual situation for Chrissie.  And this is where it gets cool.  Noticeably in tremendous pain, Chrissie guts out a 2:52:41 marathon through a bruised hip and elbow, torn muscles in her upper body, and some nasty road rash to pass EVERYONE ELSE in the women’s field, taking her 4th world champion.  As she said in her own blog post right after the incident, “it’s not a race, it’s war” – and she won.

Read about the whole incredible story chronicled by Competitor here.

Chrissie put it all on the line - including her undefeated Ironman record - to take her 4th IM World Championship in gutsy fashion.

To receive an e-mail when a new post is published, click “Subscribe” on the right sidebar.

Irondreams Die Hard

Can’t get this monkey off my back.  It’s not going to go away until I get it done.  I can do all the sub-6 or even sub-5 hours I want to at the 1/2 Ironman distance, but the itch won’t be scratched for real until I step it up and hit the iron distance.  It simply doesn’t matter where I am, what conditions I’m in, what else I’m doing, or how it’s gotta be done – I’ve just gotta do it.

My sights are now set on Ironman South Africa – 22 April 2011.  All indoor training.  Zero pool access from November through to race day.  In a war zone.  Doesn’t matter.  I didn’t tell you sooner – actually went quiet for a bit on the blog – because I had to make a hard and fast decision on this one.  I questioned the heck out of myself, making sure that I really wanted it before committing 100%.  But I came out the other end…here’s why:

Why Ironman, and Why Now?

  1. Because people and their stories inspire me every day, and I can’t help but try and live up to their example in my own little way.
  2. Because I want to know if I can really do it
  3. Because watching 6 hours of TV is a lot less productive than watching TV while pedaling on a trainer for 6 hours at 140 BPM
  4. Because there are few better things that feel as good as finishing a killer multi-hour workout, collapsing on the floor, and then wringing out my socks and shirt in the sink
  5. Because John “Blazeman” Blaze, the Ironman warrior poet, drilled through Kona while dying from ALS.  If he can do that, what will any of us let stop us from doing what we really would love to do
  6. Because it’s hard as hell, and the challenge keeps me fresh
  7. Because I’m teaching myself to not fear failure and the resulting judgment of others
  8. Because I’ve had the fortune of living an inspired and passionate life, and that runs deeper than somewhere I go, a job I do, or what is passing between my ears from one moment to the next – it is who I am
  9. Because this quest towards Ironman is teaching me about commitment, and I think I could use that lesson
  10. Because this is the next mountain to climb, and I’ve wanted to climb this mountain for a very long time
  11. Because I can’t answer the question “Why Not?” as well as I can answer the question “Why?”
  12. Because this isn’t the only Ironman I want to complete, and we never know when time is gonna run out on us
  13. Because I’m yet to find a good reason to be conservative with my personal goals
Ironman South Africa logo

22 April 2011

I Love Graphs

Very little can get me as pumped up after a solid workout as much as chocolate milk and a set of Garmin graphs.  And since I can’t pass you an ice cold bottle of Nesquik, I am happy to share my Garmin data from tonight’s workout: an 80 minute trainer session (Turbo #3) and a 10 minute transition run.  The intervals were painful, but the chocolate milk was worth it (even though I have to mix my own over here – I know, I know…so rough!).

TONIGHT: TURBO #3 (80 min. bike + 10 min. T-Run)

Heart Rate Graph: Turbo Workout #3. 1:20:00 - 1:22:30 is transition, and then a 10-minute T-Run

Love this graph – you can clearly see the bigger intervals, the gradual warm-up and cool-down, the short transition and then the T-Run.  The speed graph gets the intervals a bit better:

Speed Graph: Turbo Workout #3. Beautiful intervals, if I do say so myself!

The Turbo #3 workout can be seen on the “Indoor Tri Workouts” tab on this blog, but to save you a click, here’s the outline:

15 min. warm-up
10 x 30 s. >100 RPM spin, 30 s. easy
6 x 90 s. >100 RPM spin, 30 s. big gear standing, 2 min. easy spin
4 x 2 min. big gear standing, 3 min. average spin
10 min. cool-down

This is one of my favorite workouts – a great mix of spin and crunch.  Give it a shot and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Tastes like recovery.

To follow this blog, click the “Follow” button on the right sidebar.

%d bloggers like this: