Thursday, 21 October 2010

What to do over the cold dark months

Well the UK triathlon (and aquathlon) season is all over. A few of you may have decided to give it one last bash and compete abroad in warmer climes but the remainder of us will probably be having some sort of off-season before beginning winter training. So what should you do in the off-season and over the cold dark months of winter?

It is important to let both your body and mind recover from the stress of training and racing over the summer months. This is a good time to allow niggling injuries to settle, to enjoy forms of cross-training and to spend a little more time with friends and family who may not have quite the same level of enthusiasm for triathlon as you do. It's not necessary (or desirable) to stop swimming, biking and running all together but a short period of unstructured training at low intensities and low volumes is a good way to recharge the batteries. But don't forget the principle of 'reversibility' - the fitness you worked so hard to improve since we started the club back in January will eventually be lost if you don't do something to maintain it.

It is easy to allow technique to take a backseat during the race season. However, the off-season and winter is a great time to make this your focus. We hope to offer you all a chance to have your swim stroke filmed and analyzed. This will allow you to focus on areas of weakness within your stroke so that come next season you will be swimming with greater confidence and efficiency.

Perhaps you found your position on the bike a little uncomfortable towards the end of a long hard ride. Subtle changes to your position on the bike might make all the difference. Getting your position and pedalling technique assessed by a qualified bike fitter may prove to be money well spent if it means greater comfort and improved efficiency next season. Remember to only make small changes and make a note of any change you make. Give your body some time to adjust to the new position before making further changes.

Any changes made to running technique must be subtle and again you must give plenty of time for your body to adapt. Running is the discipline most likely to cause an injury. Even small changes in technique can significantly change the loads being placed on the body. Through the practise of running drills that focus on a specific element of technique and then by integrating these changes into short low intensity intervals you can make technique changes while minimizing the risk of injury.

The winter is not the time to be posting PB's! Unless of course you are planning on racing over the winter by taking part in duathlon, running or cycling or you have signed up for Ironman Lanzarote in March (Guy, Club Captain - Go man go!). Training too hard over the winter may in fact lead to poor performances over the summer months due to over-training or possibly injury.

There are not too many people out there who are blessed with the ability to perform well across all three triathlon disciplines. Perhaps you felt as though you struggled with one discipline in particular over the race season. The winter is a great time to focus on that discipline a little more so that you become a well balanced triathlete. Treadmills and turbo-trainers may bore you to tears but the uninterrupted training where you can accurately control your workload can be hugely beneficial.

Strength training over the winter will reap benefits over the summer. Building strength can help protect you from injury when the workload does increase closer to the race season. Every individual will benefit from different strength and conditioning exercises. Pay particular attention to those parts of the body that you may have injured in the past and associated areas. By that I mean you may have sustained a knee injury but you must not forget the vital role of the foot and ankle and hip and pelvis in optimal knee function. Seeking the opinion of an expert in the management of sports injuries would be a good idea if you have an injury that is failing to settle as expected.

Joe Beer and 220Triathlon magazine have paired up to provide free autumn and winter training plans. If you would like to take a look just click here for autumn and here for winter. We hope to put our own plans in place for the club once we know what you all would like to do next season as a club. Feel free to post your comments here! There will be more info about winter base training to come so stay posted.

On that note, this week's swim session is technique focussed, so bring your pull buoys, fins and paddles. We'll be focussing on body position, body roll and the catch and pull phases.

See you Sunday at 8! Tim (LFTC Coach)