Winter is an off season for some of the more popular sports, but it is also the time for training and body conditioning for triathletes in preparation for the spring and summer triathlon competitions.
Joining a winter triathlon is one way for the body and mind to remain in good condition and improve cycling skills. Winter triathlon is considered its own sport, involving running, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.
Although quite similar to other triathlons, doing the activities on the snow presents different conditions and risks. Here are some things you should keep in mind when preparing for a winter triathlon.
Combine aerobics and outdoor training to acclimatize yourself with the climate
The conditions during winter time are very different from the conditions for the rest of the year. The temperature will be quite low and the air is thinner.
You have to continuously keep your body warm and hydrated. Your breathing will be affected by the cold weather. Build your endurance with aerobic exercises to improve your cardiovascular performance. Intersperse indoor aerobic exercises with running, mountain biking and hiking.
These activities will take you outdoors and will help you to acclimatize with the cooler climate. You will then be able to regulate your breathing while increasing your aerobic heart rate.
Practice running on hard-packed snow
Although this is not much different from running on hard ground, the snow is slippery and you will need additional traction.
Practice running using running shoes with spikes. Try drilling eight to ten sheet metal screws that are one-eighth of an inch long into the bottom of an old pair of running shoes.
Practice keeping a high turnover and use mid-foot to fore-foot strikes without over striding. This technique will prevent you from punching the snow with each step.
Learn how to maintain you balance while riding a mountain bike on the snow
It will be quite difficult to maintain your balance on the slippery snow. Use a mountain bike that has good treads, with wider tires, about two inches or wider, and a lower tire pressure for more traction. Practice cycling in a more relaxed way and avoid over-steering so you will be able to remain upright.
Continue to build your strength with weight training
Do weight training exercises together with your aerobic exercises. Muscle strength will be tested when running, cycling and cross-country skiing, the activities that will test your endurance and strength during the winter triathlon. You will need more strength on your legs for these events.
Choose whether you want to use the classic skiing or the newer skating style
These two styles are both legal for the cross-country skiing event so choose the one that will give you a better advantage.
Skating will be faster so most of the racers will be using this but it will depend on your proficiency in one particular style for this leg of the race.
Skiing without poles is one way to perfect your technique during practice. This last leg is the most demanding, technically and aerobics-wise.
Prepare for the transitions between events
Make sure that you have a heavier pair of gloves and jacket to wear during the cycling leg of the race to protect your hands and your body from the cold wind. You can wear your bike helmet for the skiing leg of the race but it can add drag.
You should practice how to speedily and efficiently carry your ski and poles to the mount lines after alighting from your bike.
Make sure that you do not over train for the winter triathlon as it is very easy to get fatigued due to the climate. Ensure that you are properly hydrated and your muscles properly conditioned for the cold weather.
Buy the right gear for the winter triathlon and check and double-check them prior to the race, including waxing your skis properly. Pace your preparatory training to get your body truly acclimatized to the cooler climate.