Found on Ironman.com and written by Carola Felchner
Markus Konrad of German Sport University Cologne offers tips for getting back to regular training.
It can be difficult after the holidays for athletes in the northern hemisphere to stay motivated to train; snow, sleet, and rain can throw a wrench in our grandest plans. We sat down with a coach in Germany for his top tips.
Markus Konrad: It is important not to start the new season at the same speed at which you finished the last one. You should train regularly and continuously, but moderately. This applies to distances and routes. I always recommend a heart rate monitor, and you should listen to your body as well. At the beginning there can be some tweaking and pinching, which you should pay close attention to. Sore muscles or heavy legs and arms are alright, especially after running, but aching tendons or joints are not. This is quite certainly a sign that you have trained too much or too fast. It is better to do frequent small sessions instead of fewer longer ones. In this phase it is also important to stretch. By doing so you learn a lot about where you are prone to tension, and how you can loosen it. Strength training is a must in winter, too. You should absolutely have a stable core in order to be able to cope with the training demands to come.
How should you dress for winter training?
When going for a run you should always be dressed so that you feel slightly cold at the beginning. After a few minutes your body will reach a pleasant temperature. When going for a bike ride you should wear an additional layer which protects you from the cold wind. A good set of underwear with wind protection is worth more than a thick expensive jacket.
Is it OK to do intervals and races at this time of the season?
Intervals or speed work can be completed in the form of ascending runs. You can sprint 60 meters (at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum sprint capacities) up to 6 to 8 times, for example, at the end of your regular runs. Walk back slowly after each sprint. You must be in full control when doing sprints in order to avoid muscular strains. The goal of such sprints is to break the routine of moderate speed. Participating in races is also appropriate, but please refrain from running marathons or a 10K race at full speed every weekend. Races can give variety to your training routine and serve as zone 2 training. But all you should aim for at this time of the season is fun. You can train how to eat and drink right in races, but you should not go for personal bests yet.
What can you do if you struggle to get into a training rhythm?
If you train with common sense and take your time to build up your training load slowly, you will notice an improvement after four to six weeks. In winter it is all about laying the foundation. My motto is “strength is born from calm.”
How can athletes ensure they’re setting appropriate, but inspiring goals?
This question can only be answered individually and it’s important to set your goals using common sense. Remember that triathlon should be fun, not compulsive, and goals have to be realistic. Goals like qualifying for Kona require years of preparation and consistency, as muscles and tendons need time to adapt to the training loads. An appropriate goal for this time of the season is, in my opinion, a training camp in spring. This allows preparation to scale up moderately and in a relaxed manner.
Should athletes adjust their nutrition when they start training regularly again?
I don’t think this is necessary as I assume that athletes eat quite healthy the whole year round. This means lots of fresh vegetables, salads, and a piece of protein every now and then. You shouldn’t be too determined to keep a healthy diet—it is fine to enjoy some chocolate every now and then. I recommend supplementing vitamin D at this time of the year as athletes don’t get as much daylight in winter.
Markus Konrad is a triathlete and owner of the family of training camps, triathlead.com.