Do you give the winter months short-shrift for one or more of the following reasons?
• Winter weather (snow, ice, freezing rain).
• It gets dark early.
• The triathlon season is too far away to even think about.
If you're just out to snag a few race T-shirts next season, then heck, these excuses are fine, leave them be. Otherwise, they're bad answers.
If you're looking to have a breakthrough year next season (and really, who isn't?), then you must repeal these alibis, and repeal them soon.
Want to know why? Because the groundwork that you don't do (or do inconsistently) will become a choke chain when the racing season starts, limiting the prospects of performing to or near your potential for the duration of a long season.
But if you do complete a solid winter training program, then let the glut of top finishes come! Overcoming the obstacles of winter and completing a quality program will give you a foundation of aerobic base, muscular strength and enhancement of skill that will pay off enormously during the summer racing months.
But eek! It's 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside, it's dark, and there's a wind chill factor of 50 below. The easy part of the answer to this problem is indoor training. The hard part of this answer is...indoor training. Ten minutes is to a treadmill what an hour is to a trail run.
So the key is to subtract the boredom from indoor training, because from a time and efficiency perspective, you can't beat it. Executing all of your training under the roof of a health club is convenient, and the program becomes even more convenient if you've invested in your own home training equipment.
You'll never need to perform scheduling acrobatics when trying to fit in a workout during the daylight hours, and you can forget about the dangers of slick roads, wind chill and natural hazards. Just throw on your workout clothes, turn on the stereo and start training.
The main problem? Tedium. And that's the main focus of this article: How to beat the tedium. And once you've got that whupped, you can start setting some audacious goals for the new year.
Focus on the Finish Line
Goals and planning, that's the million dollar secret of infusing your motivation into your approach to the plan and making indoor training fun to do.
Joanna Zeiger, possibly the best combination long- and short-distance triathlete in the United States, hasn't let her Ph.D work in genetics and the inclement weather of Baltimore, Maryland, snow on her parade.
When asked about her winter training regimen while living on the East Coast, Zeiger responds, "Ice, snow and shorter days make bike training a challenge in the winter. Because my racing season starts early, I can't afford to take the winter off the bike.
"To keep my fitness, I often do bike workouts on the trainer. Once a week, I do a high-intensity 'spinervals' workout with a large group of cyclists. Other days I do an aerobic workout on the trainer while listening to loud, upbeat music. If possible, I try to coordinate these indoor sessions with friends. Misery loves company."
Indoor training requires focus, discipline, a plan of attack, and, most important, the fuel-like motivation that comes with a goal that gets your blood pressure up. So this is the starting point to a successful program: look at what you did last year, and imagine what you'd like to accomplish in the upcoming season.
Think big, but think in terms of what's practical considering the factors that surround you're life, especially work and family responsibilities. It's also critical to take into consideration what you have under your belt in your triathlon career before setting a goal.
In other words, make it challenging, but within reason. If last year saw you finish your first Olympic-distance race, it's probably premature to start thinking Ironman.
Next, write down your goal to make it official. The target-seeking qualities of our mind are engaged when a goal is committed to paper, whereas a goal just floating in your head tends to seep out like air from a slowly-leaking front tire.
With the goal at the top of the page, begin to plan the phases that build toward your goal races or racing season, working backwards until you're looking at the blank calendar spaces that run from your starting point (December or January for most of us) through the end of winter.
Ideally, of course, its great to work on this plan with a coach whom you trust.