Tri, tri, tri: winter training ideas

Now that’s a winter sport!

What should triathletes do when not triathloning? Come on, let’s be honest, it’s a part time sport, with a calendar of races packed into 3-4 summer months. For most of the year, we talk about races we’re planning next summer and spend lots of time training. Here I’ll give a few thoughts on how you can keep your body and mind active over the cold, dark winter months.

Triathlon is unique compared to most sports, which run throughout the year. I played football for years, and we played 10 months of the year, with one if not two games every week. Golfers can play in rain or shine. Runners have races from cross-country to track. Even darts and pool players keep going all year.

Let me know what you think of these five ideas – add your own using the comments box.

Mountain running - muddy & wet but great fun
Mountain running – muddy & wet but great fun
  • Running: I’m completely biased in that I love running and would run over a swim or cycle any day. It’s because you can run any day, any weather, anywhere, anytime. All you need is your runners and off you go, wherever the road may take you. Try the ParkRuns which are free 5km races in Marley Park each Saturday morning. Or join an athletics club like Rathfarnham and go cross-country, running around muddy fields. My favourite is mountain running – check out the IMRA winter league from January, or do the Winter Solstice Night Run in Ballinastoe on 21st December.
  • Cycling: I don’t really like doing long spins in the freezing cold, when you can’t feel your fingers, your nose or your toes. So why not go off round and do some mountain biking? It’s great fun and you won’t feel the cold as much, although you will have a few close shaves with tree trunks, rocks or muddy puddles. I also thought about doing cyclocross – I just need another bike.

  • Swimming: get ready for that Christmas Day swim by getting into the sea every Sunday for a few minutes. Even if your toes and fingers fall off from exposure, it’ll do your circulation and heart a world of good. Just bring a flask of tea for after. An easier option might be to continue swimming in the pool – but why not join a masters group and do a few gala races? Or else take up diving lessons – I’ve always wanted to have the balls and skill to jump off the 10m diving platform in the NAC.
10m diving board in Barcelona
  • Yoga/pilates: keeping flexible is important, so these classes can help. I also find them great for your mind, as you have to focus on the here and now and forget about everything else that’s going on outside. I haven’t tried the bikram yoga yet, or the anti-gravity yoga…what else can they invent??
Anti-gravity yoga
  • Trampolining: this is a new one for me, but there’s an indoor trampoline park in Sandyford, JumpZone, that is meant to be great fun and a super workout. NASA endorse “rebound exercise” as the best way to keep fit, apparently. A colleague at work is trying to convince us to go – his pitch is that it’s a tough session and plus he needs some moral support, being the token man amongst 25 fit women!
Looks like fun – Jumpzone

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