The man of the moment in triathlon is undoubtedly 25-year-old Kiwi and Team SunGod athlete, Hayden Wilde.
After being crowned 2022 Super League Triathlon champion last month, and finishing a close second after his friend and rival Alex Yee in the Commonwealth Games in the summer, all eyes are on the current WTCS leader Hayden as he gears up for the World Triathlon Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi on 23-26 November.
After the Finals, the triathlon season will draw to a close, and athletes will switch to their off-season training regime for the winter months. But when the conditions outside are tough and uninviting, how do you motivate yourself to get out there and train? By building healthy habits that make training second nature, you can lay solid groundwork, and get yourself in the best possible position for spring. And now, as winter approaches, there's no better time to start building habits to beat the change in seasons.
Read on to discover 4 exclusive tips from Hayden himself on how to build the best winter training habits, to line yourself up for success next season. Plus, learn how to make that transition to cold mornings, rainy days and long nights just that little bit easier...
Winter training: what’s it all about?
“For me, the transition period is coming up, when I switch from an intense summer season into a completely different off-season schedule.
The season runs from May to November, so after the World Champs this month I’ll be shifting my focus to off-season training. This is where we do less speed and more mileage, to create a decent base which sets us up well as we head into next season. It’s hard to build on something if it isn’t there in the first place - that’s why a solid winter training regime is essential!
The days are shorter and colder, which inevitably hits your motivation right where it hurts. So, building good habits is all the more important. You’ll thank yourself down the line…
My idea of creating a strong base and getting into good habits is setting the alarm every day at the same time, so your body creates the habit of getting up and doing something.”
1. Keep the intensity low and the workouts long
“Depending on how tough the season was, I normally take 2 or 3 weeks off training at the end of it. In those periods, my coach won’t give me any planned exercise, and I’ll just train if I feel like it. I might do 5-7 hours of training per week, instead of my usual 20-30 hours.
After the rest period, I’ll gear up my training again, but it looks very different to summer training. As I’m not racing there’s no need for speed, instead it’s all about building an aerobic base. Now is the time to bank those long rides, slow and steady runs and endurance swims to keep the intensity low and the fitness high. Keeping intensity low is good as it gives your body a break from all the high heart-rate workouts that you face during the season. It's all about getting your body into the habit of long sessions on autopilot as you gradually get stronger.”
2. Mix it up: your chance to experiment
“With endurance the name of the game at this time of year, I see autumn and winter as an opportunity to do something different to what I would do in my regular training week. What does that look like? Trail running, mountain biking, and varied weekly challenges to keep the mind stimulated and ticking over nicely. Building habits doesn't have to mean getting bored!
I give myself weekly goals, whether that’s to run as much elevation as possible, or simply to go out and do all my training in the morning to make time for a coffee with a friend later on.
The turbo trainer and gym definitely become more appealing, there’s no doubt about that. I mix it up in the gym to keep myself motivated; doing a really wide range of activities, plus the odd race on Zwift to keep the competitive edge!”
3. Fuel for winter warmth
“As we’re doing more long, low-intensity sessions this time of year, we really rack up the miles. And when you’re smashing out the miles, you've got to get the calories in! I’m normally not one to stress about my nutrition, but even I know I eat far more in the winter. Plus, in winter we make fresh bread in my house- and when the bread is fresh out of the bread maker, it’s hard to resist...
By fuelling enough, and fuelling right, you can have a massive impact on your performance in training. Building habits is all-important here too; meal prep works wonders for making sure you get the right nutrients when you need them. And planning ahead with your shopping, so you have all the right bars and snacks to keep you going through sessions, can be make or break."
4. Plan ahead to ease the early mornings
“You have to look after your body throughout the winter months as cold days can take a toll on the body. Rug up - get those arm and leg warmers on, stick on a beanie… And of course, low-light lenses in your road cycling sunglasses, like the 8KO® HV Blue . This will really enhance your vision in dark conditions. Spend five minutes preparing your kit the night before, and you'll find it ten times easier to get up and out in the morning.
For my summer training it’s the opposite; the less clothing the better, so I can really soak up that Vitamin D! But in the colder months there’s no point in being a tough guy, and ultimately it’ll impact your performance. By building the habit of laying everything out beforehand, you don't have to use your brain when you wake up; everything's ready for you to tackle your training. That's what habit-building is all about; making it as easy as possible for you to get out there and train."
Keeping it varied, building up the miles, fuelling right, and planning ahead - all essential to nailing your training this winter. By following in Hayden's footsteps and cultivating solid habits right from the start, you'll set yourself up for success down the line when spring kicks in.
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Cover photo: Ryan Sosna Bowd