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While tri season may seem far away, now’s the time to make sure you’re set up for success on the bike. Here are some tips for maintaining and improving while it’s still cold so you can rock the spring races.
Keep it rolling. While you should definitely take some sort of break where unstructured activity is emphasized, keep it to a month at most if you’re planning on an early-season race. A long break from the bike will have you working for a long time just to get back to where you were.
When possible, get outside. In some parts of the country, it’s simply not feasible to ride outdoors during the winter and early spring months. If you do have the option, however, it’s preferable to keep up some of the nuances of cycling that a trainer can’t quite replicate. Handling skills, shifting and natural variation in power due to terrain are skills you can practice by venturing out when the weather allows.
Do specific trainer work. Easy, no-plan hours of spinning on the trainer won’t get you far. Many time-crunched age-group athletes find more success using the winter to build bike strength and then add in the endurance piece closer to the race.
Build race intensity.When your race is looming in 8–10 weeks, it’s time to start building in periods of race-specific intensity, which can be performed most effectively on the trainer using a power meter and/or heart rate monitor. Don’t forget to practice holding race (aero) position during these efforts!
Train for your Race
Doing one of these early-season races? Here are the course-specific workouts to incorporate into your training. (Learn about FTP here.)
Think flat and hot, both conditions you can easily simulate indoors.
Key workout: 4–6 x 20 minutes each interval building from 70–80% FTP. Maintain a little variety by mixing up the cadence structure within each 20-minute period and making each effort a little bit stronger than the last. Rest for 3 minutes in between each.
Ironman 70.3 California
This popular course is a mix of fast flats, steep climbs and rollers. Prepare by mixing big gear intervals in with your steady state work.
Key workout: 4×20 minutes as 15 minutes at race cadence/85% FTP and 5 minutes at 60–70 RPM/90% FTP. 3–5 minutes rest between efforts.
St Anthony’s Triathlon
This race is all about holding your power on flat terrain. The course is flat and fast and rewards racers who can push a high percentage of threshold for a long time sans coasting, easy to replicate on a trainer.
Key workout: 4×12 minutes at 90% FTP with 3 minutes rest between each effort
Ironman 70.3 St. George
Mountains and heat with a touch of altitude, oh my! Though training for this type of terrain during the winter can be challenging if you don’t have access to actual mountains, a combination of a period focusing on building strength with plenty of big gear work can go a long way.
Key workout: 4×15 minutes as 5 minutes at 80–90 RPM/85% FTP, 5 minutes at 60–70 RPM/90% FTP, 5 minutes at 80 RPM/85% FTP. 3–5 minutes rest between efforts.