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Tri University: How to Survive the Winter Months Before Nationals

Former collegiate triathlete Kristin Goett shares her advice for showing up to next April's national championships fit and ready to race.

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The collegiate tri season is done for the year. Medals have been won, podiums have been stood upon, and the disgusting post-race smell in your car is beginning to fade. So, now what?

With the Collegiate Club National Championships returning to Tempe this spring, many teams coast-to-coast will have to brush up on their heat training skills and learn to embrace the idea of swimming in Tempe Town Lake. If I lived, you’ll live—just don’t intake too much water.

Here are some tips to make these upcoming months count!

Swim, Bike, Run, Bond

Nationals may feel far away right now, but the big dance in April will come sooner than you think. While you might think you’ve had enough long road trips, fast food drive-throughs, and shared hotels rooms with teammates, winter is a critical time to keep those sacred team bonds close to the heart.

Keeping relationships strong across the team will help teammies hold each other accountable, motivate one another, and boost spirits even on the dreariest of days.

Spice up team bonding activities by hosting a team potluck dinner, movie night, or minute-to-win-it event. Encourage teammates to ditch their phones and focus solely on team bonding. Okay, you can take a few photos #DoItForTheGram.

For the real tri-dorks out there, race-related team bonding activities can include flat-tire fixing contests, wetsuit stripping contests (don’t forget to wear something underneath!), or timed transition practice. Make it fun and up the ante with prizes like a king size candy bar, cool pair of socks, or homemade baked goods.

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Heat training is essential when gearing up for a race in the desert. Lucky for you, there are ways to crank up the heat without busting your electric bill.

Have you ever had three or more ambitious triathletes working out together in a small space? If you have, you understand the choking warmth that fills the room in a matter of minutes. Use the power of body heat to work up not only a sweat but the air temperature.

If someone is willing, a small apartment space is perfect for hotter-than-normal trainer sessions. Or, if your school’s workout rooms have a door, shut the door and have everyone put their trainers extra close together. It doubles as bonding time; if you can ignore the smell.

Check with your university’s recreation department to see if they have any space heaters or other heating elements they are willing to loan. If it’s in accordance with fire safety, use some team funds to purchase a cheap space heater and put it right where you’ll feel the burn, but not literally. Keep it a safe distance away from you unless you like the feeling of chlorine on blistered skin. Didn’t think so.

Cross Out Some SBR Sessions… with Cross-Training

Switch up your SBR-heavy routines by adding cross-training this winter. Yes, gasp, I am suggesting something other than swimming, biking, or running. The reality is that activities like lifting weights, yoga, and plyometrics will boost your performance on race day.

Many universities offer free yoga classes. Reach out to one of the yoga instructors and see if they are willing to put together a “yoga for triathletes” session. If not, grab your tri buddies and count attending a yoga class as a team workout and bonding session.

Get in the “pick things up and put them down” mentality by having a team lift once a week. This can be done in the campus gym, or bodyweight exercises can be done in an apartment, workout room, classroom, etc. The opportunities to get gains are endless.

Functional exercises like single-leg deadlifts, deadbug, planks, push-ups, and weighted squats will not only get you looking like the Rock, but will also help your muscles gain the endurance needed for those extra agonizing stretches of the race.

Get those team-loving vibes going, sweat it out, and mix it up with beloved teammates by each others’ sides. By the time Nationals arrives, your university’s team will be ready to race with the best of ‘em.