In the United States North and much of Canada and Europe the Winter weather has begun in earnest and triathletes will have to adjust their triathlon winter training accordingly.
Winter is an especially good time to fine-tune swimming and biking technique.
WINTER SWIM TRAINING
There are many athletes who incorporate open-water swim training into their training program at any time of year.
Either way, for those training for a distant Ironman in late Spring or Summer the cold days of Winter are ideal for working on improving swim technique and not to worry so much about distance training.
The real key to Ironman swim success is developing a smooth, relaxed stroke that requires as little energy as possible. Usually the distance and endurance will take care of itself when it comes to swimming, but proper technique requires a bit more concentration and is well worth the effort once race-day arrives.
For those who are struggling with proper swim technique or perhaps have their doubts about being able to navigate the 2.4-miles of the Ironman swim, Total Immersion is hands down the best swimming technique in the world for teaching new swimmers the fundamentals of developing a long, smooth, and energy-saving swim-stroke.
It was Total Immersion that changed the way I approached the Ironman swim and made it something I looked forward to on race day rather than fill me with apprehension as it usually did in the years when I struggled with open water swimming.
Terry Laughlin, the creator of Total Immersion has been kind enough to offer my IronSruck visitors a discount on most purchases from the Total Immersion website.
WINTER BIKE TRAINING
Winter is the perfect time to work on proper biking technique. Spin classes are popping up all over the place in most major cities and it’s a great way to fine-tune your cycling skills.
It’s amazing how many triathletes you will see on any Ironman bike course in the big chain-ring pushing big gears at about 60 RPM’s. It’s almost as if they have forgotten that they have a marathon to run once they get off their bikes.
From the moment the gun goes off to start the swim it’s important to be thinking ahead. A smart, energy-saving swim pays dividends later in the day and cycling within your means leads to a much more successful(and enjoyable) marathon experience.
The flip-side of that coin is the Ironman Death March that is awaiting hundreds of triathletes in every single Ironman event in the world who over-extend themselves in the swim and bike and eventually hit the proverbial wall.
Whether you join a spin class or set up your wind-trainer in front of the television, the smartest decision you might make in all of your Ironman preparation is to learn how to maintain a doable cadence in a gear you can handle for most of the 112-mile bike course.
I am no biking professional, but one of the most important lessons I learned about the Ironman bike over the years is that the spin is the key. Find that perfect gear for you that you can maintain at about 80-85 RPM’s without over-taxing the large muscle groups in your legs and you will have a much better marathon result.
Well, interval training over the snow and ice is pretty much out of the question in the Winter months, but there is no reason why triathletes can’t work on their conditioning and endurance.
Winter is a great time to just take it easy and enjoy some LSD running. That would be Long Slow Distance for most of you and going on a trip without leaving the farm for some old-timers out there.
I can’t remember a year that ever went by in the early days of my Ironman career when I didn’t wipe out at least once, and it goes without saying that you have to adjust your running style to suit the conditions.
Shortening your stride and shifting your center of gravity by leaning forward a bit more is a good way to maintain more control when you are running in snowy, icy conditions.
Be extra cautious when running under an over-pass or bridge as that is often where black-ice will be hiding out. Be extra-cautious on those short down-hills leading in or out of an over-pass.
Yaktrax for your running shoes are an excellent innovation for winter running and are worth looking into. At the very least they will most likely provide some peace of mind.
If you really feel you need to do some speed-work, find yourself an indoor track and incorporate some speed-work to complement your outdoor endurance running.