5 Winter Training Tips

Okay, it's winter, it's getting colder and the days are getting shorter (well they are in the northern hemisphere). Most of us need some new impetus to help us make the most of our training time. And let's face it, that training time is significantly reduced for most of us as well. So here we five little ideas to help you. One for the swim, two for the bike and two for the run. You may well have come across some of these before but we think these are five great ways to keep your training 'energised' over the winter months.


Swim a competition. No, we don't mean go and enter a swimming competition. What we mean is make your main set effectively a knock out sports competition. Don't neglect your warm up and cool down but make a knock out grid (we have a free downloadable template for you; click on the pdf icon on the right) and populate it with teams from your favourite sport. You could laminate a piece of paper, get hold of some waterproof paper or even use a diver's slate - anything that will survive being on the end of the pool and lets you write on it. You then set the distance to be swum for each round. If you're working on pace then a match could be over 50m. Swim the first 50m and write the time next to the first team. Repeat for the second team (your rest is up to you and the intensity you want for the session). The team with the quickest time goes through - write their name in the next round.

There are endless variations on this. You can vary the length of 'matches' in a competition, you can vary the length from round to round (maybe creating a pyramid), you can change how many teams are in the competition and through all this you can alter your rest and recovery periods.

Quick Tip: put your favourite team at the bottom of the grid. That way you are always swimming for them at your most fatigued!


No. 1: Simply get out and ride. The tip is - 'buy a decent but cheap set of winter wheels'. Let's face it, nothing quite beats actually getting out on the road and putting in some 'proper' miles. There are plenty of decent wheel sets out there that can be bought new for under £100. You could go second hand, especially if you know club members or have friends who are looking to sell. Or, you could go online and risk the 'provenance' of a set bought 'unseen'. However, the point is, you don't want to wreck your decent wheels, especially the brake tracks if you've got carbon rims,so put a reasonable set of wheels on your bike and get out there. Real Life Reviews has recently taken a look at the Shimano RS11 wheelset so click here to see them.

No.2: Go interactive - get a smart turbo trainer. Okay, so this is just a tad contradictory to No.1 but hey, variety is the key. Sometimes, no matter how hardy you are the weather simply doesn't entice you out there. So indoors it is then. There are huge communities out there as well as great training programmes, virtual reality worlds and even 'interactive' videos.

Apart from the sheer wonder of your turbo getting harder as you hit an incline (or easier as you finally make it to a downhill section) there is no doubt that it is easier to manage your time with a turbo trainer. We at Real Life Reviews always seem to work harder on the turbo than outside and it seems that a general rule is that we feel we get the same sort of work out that would take twice the time outdoors. That's to say a two hour ride outdoors becomes a one hour beasting indoors. This means sessions can be squeezed in where we might not have had the time to get ready and go for a proper ride. If you've got a long suffering partner or family then bingo - you've now got more time for them..... or is that more time for swimming and running (ooops, probably shouldn't have put that! :-) ).


No.1: Go long and slow. Use the winter months to work on training the body to utilise those long-term energy reserves. There are numerous methods of setting heart rate zones for your training and here we're talking about what many refer to as 'zone 2' or more specifically 60-70% of your theoretical maximum heart rate.

Training in the 60-70% zone improves the ability of your heart to pump blood and improve the muscles’ ability to utilize oxygen.  The body becomes more efficient at feeding the working muscles, and learns to metabolise fat as a source of fuel. Wear a heart rate monitor (we still think here that these are the most reliable method of measuring your heart rate) and keep an eye on your watch. It can be surprisingly difficult at first to force yourself to run this slow if you're used to pushing things but stick with it and enjoy the view. You never know, you might start seeing things that you've never seen before!

No.2: Put away the Garmin (or whatever it is that you use). Yes, we're being contradictory again but it is sort of heading in the same direction. Just go out there and enjoy your running. Take the opportunity to just run and explore some new routes. Okay, we get it, some of you want to record every bit of training that you do. That's no problem. Either get some self discipline and don't look at your watch or cover it up with long sleeves or a watch cover. Either way start to enjoy what's around you and remove some of that pressure that comes with constantly striving to hit targets.

5 Winter Training Tips video: