Boost your running fitness over winter with these key lessons from top coach Martin Yelling

Winter Triathlon Training - Winter RunningWinter is a fantastic time for triathletes to improve their running. Setting yourself a running challenge can help keep you motivated, focussed and ready for action when triathlon racing is off the agenda.

Whether triathlon’s third discipline is your strength or your weakness, spending time developing your running will keep your training on track and help you lay a strong foundation for the summer.

Start by setting yourself a goal – a 5km race, a half-marathon or even a self-measured course. Aim for an event about four to eight weeks away. Then think about what you want to achieve, be it a new personal best, a distance target or position in a race. Look back at your past efforts and think of a target that is realistic; one that is achievable providing you train effectively.

A running focus doesn’t mean that you banish the bike or bin the pool time. One of the hardest things about triathlon is fitting it all in. You don’t have to do the same number of workouts for swimming, running and cycling week-in-week-out, year round.

It actually pays to vary it a bit. Winter weekends are prime time for cycling, while dark mornings lend themselves to swimming technique work. Running is ideal mid-week when time is precious. So winter needn’t be a time for excuses; it’s actually the perfect time to get your head down and focus on each discipline without the interruption of triathlon racing.

1 VARY THE PACE

Instead of simply going out and running at the same old pace all winter, enhance your running by binning the one-paced plod and including a few structured run workouts each week. Slowly increase the intensity and duration of these sessions over a period of weeks.

2 BREAK IT DOWN

Introduce one fartlek session (a varied pace continuous run) per week into your run programme for the first two weeks of your run focus. Then shift to a structured interval session for the fourth week.

3 KEEP IT CONVERSATIONAL

Long runs build your aerobic capacity and your endurance. Done at conversational pace they create strong foundations that you can build faster running on.

4 SUSTAIN THE PAIN

Threshold or tempo runs (sustained running at ‘controlled discomfort’) help you become a stronger and more efficient runner. This type of running is the mainstay of great running performance. You have to concentrate to maintain a pace where you can say only four or five words as you run.

You can find more winter triathlon training articles here