Triathlon winter/pre-season guide
Are you avoiding thinking about the upcoming triathlon season or are you itching to get back into the training routine? Maybe you’re already visiting the gym with gusto or maybe never stopped. Should you? Let’s take a look at what this time of year is perfect for.
Below I’ve listed some ideas that will help you get off to a great year.
- Is your mind ready for a return to training? If you had a late season race that took a lot out of you or took a lot of prep, a late season Ironman for example, there’s a chance the thought of getting back into the saddle might be more of a nightmare. If your mind is telling you “I don’t want to!” then it’s probably best if you listen to it. But that doesn’t mean hit the couch until you’re your body starts to twitch with boredom. Best thing to do for both mind and body is to get up and get moving, but do something different! Pick up skate skiing, go for a fat bike ride with friends, enjoy a hike, play some tennis! Your body will enjoy moving in ways that aren’t related to swim/bike/run for a change.
- Ok, your mind is right, but is your body ready for a return to training? How does everything feel? Do you still have that nagging ankle/knee/hip thing from last year? Was there a point in your training last year where something started to hurt? How’s that plantar fasciitis? Now is the time to address any of those issues, find out the cause, correct it, and build strength so it doesn’t happen again.
- Is your running form inefficient? Do you swim like you’re going up stream? Can’t bike any faster than you run? Now is the time to get some help from a professional, hire a coach, or take a class. Work on those weak spots and technique now so that later you can focus on SPEED!
- GET STRONG!!! If there’s one thing triathletes are guilty of it’s a lack of strength training and it’s SSSOOOO important. Our bodies take a pounding as we train and race all season long. In order to stop rattling your chassis and getting injured,you need to make that chassis strong. Yes, your whole body. Squats, deadlifts, rows, pushups, lots of planks, and more! Then don’t stop! During the season you can do less strength training, but you will still need to keep working them muscles! Look at using a Personal Trainer to teach you the basics. YouTube and using a mirror to check your form can also work magic. But please use a plan from a qualified person with credentials. If there’s a title akin to “Get shredded in 10 days!” invloved, you probably don’t want it.
- Is it time to upgrade? This time of year much of last years’ equipment is on sale and there’s new stuff showing up at the local bike shop. If you were ready to leave your bike on the side of the road in frustration during your last race or if you’re simply ready to invest in that dream rocket you’ve always wanted – now is a great time to do something about it. You may even be able to trade in your current bike for money off your new bike! What about your other gear? Is it finally time to get a wetsuit? Are your shoes ready to retire to lawn mowing duty? The off-season is a great time to do your shopping!
- Get a bike tune up already! Seriously, when was the last time you had someone go over your bike? There might be free speed hiding in some of those worn out components! Don’t waste the hours you spend perfecting your human engine on an out of tune bike that eat s watts. Beat the rush and schedule your tune up today!
- It’s time for a bike fit. A lot has probably changed since you put the bike away. You’re older, maybe more/less flexible, maybe that desk job has made you stiff as a board, or just maybe you’ve never even had your bike fit specifically to you! Before you start racking up the training miles, get your bike fitted to your body the way it is now. The bike will fit your better, which means you won’t mind getting on it, which means you’ll actually get in those training miles. You’ll also be less likely to get injured. A bike fit is honestly some of the best money you can spend towards this hobby. Happier and faster is a dream come true!
- Plan your season. This one is vitally important and it’s bigger than just picking your races. Grab a pencil and calendar and write down the races you’d like to attend. Rank them A=most important, B=kind of important, C=for fun. Write down any known vacations, work trips, days the kids don’t have school or camps, and so on. Get everything out there and see if the races you want to do actually make sense. Is there enough time between them? Does your travel severely interfere with the one you picked for your A race? Getting a clearer idea of the year ahead will help you see how your training needs to develop and It might save you from entering a race that doesn’t work for you.
- Finally, start easy. Your body probably isn’t where it was when you packed it in after that last race, hit the couch
,and reached for the ice cream. Don’t make the mistake of running out the door and expecting to hit those same paces and miles. Start easy, start short. Your body won’t “remember” it’s fitness just like your body doesn’t understand making up missed workouts. Respect where you are, and slowly work your way back. You’ll be less likely to get injured and more likely to have a happy, long ,and successful season.
Remember to pace yourself, have fun, and enjoy another year in the sport! That's the #1 reason we all take part in the first place. If you need any help figuring out what you might need just stop by the Gear West shop and chat with the crew. We have 27 years experience outfitting triathletes and are competitors ourselves. See you soon!
- Ben Harding