Winter Focus

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Wintertime presents an entirely new set of challenges. We’ve had our break, we are rearing to get going again and unless we are a desert lizard or flying south, it’s normal that it is freezing outside and dark. So where does that leave a fired up triathlete? Dark, cold and ready to go… not an ideal combo.

I think for this time of year different athletes require different road maps.

For the Bigger Fellows

  1. Focus on running volume; no intensity. Keep heart rate really low and if you want work then go uphill easily and let the terrain be the work. Back the running volume up week in and week out with high mileage running at a low heart rate for a few months.
  2. Focus on swim efficiency and endurance. Again, do as much easy to moderate swimming you can tolerate.
  3. Add functional strength work in the gym. If you are a big guy I don’t think stacking on the weights is going to help you, but it will make a difference in your next season to get in the gym three to four times per week and do all the little rehab functional strength exercises to prevent injury for 2011.
  4. With cycling, it’s cold and dark and you may be strapped to a trainer. For a few months (December through February), I recommend you focus on pedal stroke skill, specific strength sets and just start to add in a bit of FTP work towards the end of February. The rest of the cycling time for you should be getting out there and having fun on the skis, snow shoes, tennis courts, basketball or some form of cross training. A fun skate skiing period will really keep you moving through the winter.
  5. Regarding nutrition: This is the time of year to be kind to yourself, but also start to build a plan to lean down. Learn what your habits are and start to turn all your bad habits to good ones.

For the Little Guys and Ladies


That should be your primary goal through the winter.

  1. Break out the paddles on the swim.
  2. Get going on a good structured, progressive trainer block for cycling.
  3. Develop a strong gym program that progresses properly to build your power and strength.
  4. Regarding running: find some cross country races, 5km races and 10km races — nothing longer. Volume at this point in the year for this group is only going to kill you later in the year. Spend the winter putting on a few pounds to strengthen up the immune system and build up your power for three months.

Everybody has different thoughts on how the winters should be spent; low HR, huge volume, time off… there are many different ways to go. I don’t see any as right or wrong. What I do think is key is to find the plan that suits your profile as an athlete to make you stronger for 2011.

If you’ve done your post-2010 analysis and your 2011 goal-setting, then seeing what plan is the direction for you should be obvious.

Be kind to yourself and your support crew though the winter and set yourself up to make the changes needed to reach your goals.

PlanningMarilyn Chychota