12565508_905776129521669_4996337625343196077_nOn my long walks with the pups I have a lot of time to think. Last week this came to mind. Triathlon is a winter sport that is merely played out in the summer. This is meant to remind athletes that while summer training is important, consistency throughout the colder months is much more crucial to summer success. With strong training during the winter, it would even be feasible for an athlete to have an early season peak and a late season peak, with enough time for recovery between the two. I dug up some articles about the pioneers of triathlon. Now some of you might not know who they are, names like Ken Glah, Jan Wankly , Scott Tinely? Ring a few bells? The below quote speaks to the importance of good training during the winter. These athletes did not have the fancy watches, bikes or other gadgets we are using today. They worked hard and their rewards were world and national championships.
“Kenny Glah and Jan Wanklyn swim in an endless pool. They’ve got a StarTrac treadmill and a Computrainer as well. All down in their basement. They can do an Ironman down there. Longtime triathletes hate racing Glah in the early season. He emerges from his stealth basement like an axe murderer–not having been seen by any living soul (save his family) for three months–fit as a fiddle and ornery from cabin fever. “He does so much training down in that basement,” says Tinley, “you could mine salt down there.”
That said “champions are made in winter!”
Winter, a time for creating strength to avoid the strain of the upcoming season. The months of December through March are key months of preparation for the upcoming running and triathlon season. If you have a spring or summer race on the calendar in 2016, these months represent the first phase of training for that race. It’s the best time to build a foundation before jumping into specific race preparation workouts. Just finished a late fall marathon? Consider this a time to “clean up” you’re your imbalances. Running and triathlon are sports in which we dose a certain amount of stress through the body to create an adaptation in fitness and improved performance. However, too much stress can result in strain. When the body is not prepared for the stress of a training plan, injury risk increases greatly. The last few months of a training plan leading up to a key race often consist of two to three “quality” workouts per week. In preparation for these hard months of training, one must be adequately prepared. Incorporating mobility and strength work into your winter training plan is crucial for improved performance.
Assuming you’re injury free, endurance training can and should continue during these months. Depending on experience and skill, run and triathlon workouts vary during the winter — but if there’s one thing you should be doing, it’s focusing on your limitations! Oh focusing on my limitations? Been told to increase your running cadence? Now’s a great time to work on that. Not a great swimmer? Get in the pool. Lacking power on the bike? Get on that trainer and get to work! Most importantly, balance these limitations with sport-specific strength training! And yoga! I agree with the philosophy that if you want to be a better runner, you need to run. Swimming makes you a better swimmer, etc. However, strength training results in physiologic adaptations that allow you to tolerate the stress and force that you will put your body through in training for endurance sports. Athletes often tell me that it’s hard to fit strength work in during race season with all of the other scheduled workouts. They say that strength training has the tendency to leave them more sore than a run or tri workout. I agree with this. During the winter, you have more time in your training schedule, and your body will adapt to the strength workouts as it does to speed workouts in the spring. As sport-specific training increases, you can incorporate fewer or shorter strength training sessions into the plan without affecting key workouts due to soreness. You’ll have learned what works for you, what your limitations are and how long your key strength exercises take. So enough excuses get out there and do the work, your next “A” race is just around the corner.