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Five Ways To Improve Over Winter

For most triathletes and runners, the start to a new year is typically a time for rest, recovery and rebuilding ahead of focusing on events in 2020.

Here is a short list of ways to make the most of the winter months which will set you up for a PB coming into your a-race for the upcoming season.

1. Bad weather can force indoor training

There is no problem with hitting the treadmill but the truth is that most industrial treadmills are spring loaded which reduces the ground reaction force and makes running a bit easier. One thing that treadmills are great for though due to this is improving range of motion or stride mobility. Focus on a good warm up and then using the treadmill for interval strides and tempo sets. This should compliment nicely with a once a week track session. Think about doing one mile intervals, or a simple 5km tempo set. You’ll be preparing muscle groups like your hip flexors to work outside their arch of efficiency. This should translate to better road speed when you’re training on the firmer ground.

2. Strength training

The winter months are for building strength, which means focusing on power and overall weight per lift. Initially consider reducing reps and increasing the weight of your strength work, it’s best if the movements used during the winter season can be compound based. Think, deadlifts, cleans, lunges. Alternate a heavy session with less reps and a power based session the next week focusing on speed of movement with slightly less weight, is a great way to develop over the winter months. Strength training is important all year round, but dropping reps and increasing weight will help build power, whereas during the season you might want to focus more on reactive speed and plyometric power.

3. Reduce the distance of your longer runs and focus on keeping the tempo high

One of the main reasons winter can be tough is because the weather is really not very helpful. Trying to convince yourself to get out the door is actually a major factor in developing a good training block. Mentally recognising that you only have to get moving for a mid distances run will help you overcome some of these mental obstacles. Progressive runs are perfect for the winter. Build on the pace each km/mile, these sessions take into account the low motivation factor but then ramp it up gradually once you get going. We’re all more likely to start slow and build into run in the winter.

4. Fuelling

Some of the advantages of training at a higher intensity will mean that your training load will be lower- ie, you’re doing fewer miles each week. In turn, this will be reflected in the amount of carbohydrate that you metabolise over the course of a training week. Training at a higher intensity means that you’ll be fuelling from your glycogen stores more often that you would when you do LISS (low intensity steady state) training. Fuel appropriately, keep your protein intake high post training to accommodate the strength and intensity, and carbohydrate dense fuel pre training to maintain a high glycogen storage in your liver and muscles.

5. Cross Country

Cross country takes a lot of the components that we’re trying to address and throws them into a practical race scenario. Hard and fast, all out racing over very varied terrain. Typically these shorter hard tempo sessions should compliment the power/heavy weight sessions that you’re using for gym work as.

Max Willcocks
Written By

Max Willcocks

Max is a Science in Sport ambassador and avid long distance runner.