Powering forward: Triathlon training tips for next phase of lockdown

With lockdown restrictions on exercise starting to ease throughout the UK, triathletes can head out and enjoy some spring sunshine. The extra freedom is welcome but staying creative and flexible with your training schedule will help you maintain your strength, fitness and sanity whatever happens during this next phase.

Remember, none of your training is a wasted effort. It will keep you healthier and happier in the meanwhile – and build an excellent base for when you next line up at an event start line!

Training outside

However often you choose to train outdoors, it seems wise to not venture too far from home. Think fresh air sanity rides and revitalising local runs, rather than endurance adventures. Though the chances are slim, you could fall or have a mechanical, putting pressure on health care professionals and social distancing rules. Or as British Cycling puts it:

“It is important to stress that at this time, when the NHS continues to operate under extreme pressures, it is important that you ride within your ability level and take appropriate precautions.”

In England, you can now team up with one other person to train, though social distancing guidance must otherwise be followed. Cyclist magazine goes as far as to argue that for “cyclists in single file, the suggested safe distance could be as much as 20 metres”. Either way, we will have to wait a little longer for those much-missed group rides and track sessions! British Cycling have updated their guidance for more information.

Swim | Swapping water for strength

If you are super lucky and have access to a small, private pool, you can use a swim cord or harness to do a ‘stationary swim’ session. South African pro triathlete Henri Schoeman gives a good intro to stationary swimming here.

Open water swimming is now an option in England. Safety advice has been drawn up by British Triathlon, Swim England and the Royal Life Saving Society UK, calling for all swimmers to take extra precautions when out in open water. Read their full guidance here.

Not near an open water swimming spot? There are strength exercises you can do to be prepped for when the pools open up again. The legendary Dave Scott has shared his dry land swimming exercise tips whilst the Global Triathlon Network has just released How To Train For Swimming At Home Part 01 and Part 02. In fact, the GTN’s Swim playlist is a great resource to learn more about technique. For when water becomes an option again, check out our guide to improving  your swim technique, fitness and confidence here.

Bike | Gearing up for the inside

Indoor cycling is still an optimum way of building bike fitness. There are many apps and sessions available online to keep your training fresh and your mind entertained. Combining cycling with yoga, mind and strength work, Sufferfest is a comprehensive training app and they have a free 14-day trial. As part of their Covid-19 #RideItOut campaign, the new RGT Cycling app has made all of its Premium features free in response to the pandemic. Similarly, the Peloton app has boosted its free trial to 90 days. The classic is Zwift, where you can race and train with amateurs and pros from around the world. The app is free, and they even offer a 30-day home trial of their Zwift-approved trainers – but don’t blame us when you don’t want to send it back! If you don’t have a smart trainer, or the right gadgets, you can switch your sessions to heart rate or your rate of perceived effort (RPE). You can even link with other riders via Skype or Zoom to do a training session ‘together’.

Stuck for session ideas? A classic would be to ride an easy warm up for 20 mins, then add in 10 max 1min efforts with 2 min rests in between, with a 10-20 min cool down. The Global Cycling Network has endless videos to keep you entertained and informed. Check out their Train With GCN | Cycling Workout Classes playlist which is regularly updated and includes some live sessions. British Cycling also has a ton of indoor sessions to work through.

Run | Business as usual

With people around the world running marathons in the smallest of spaces, the easing of restrictions can see you explore a little further afield. Basically, your run training can continue pretty much as normal – just no track sessions just yet! With most people allowed out to train multiple times a day, we can ease back into some outside, socially distant brick sessions to double check those legs still work after a ride.

If you’re not keen to head back out just yet, or prefer to self-isolate, you can mix it up indoors or in a nearby outside space with a bit of cardiovascular cross-training. Try skipping, walking up and down your stairs or exploring the world of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The Global Triathlon Network’s 15 Minute HIIT Workout video is a good place to start. Get creative and get that heart rate up – you may even discover a secret love for Zumba!

Build physical and mental strength

Lastly, use the unexpected time away from your usual training schedule to strengthen your body and mind. With gyms closed for the time being, the Global Triathlon Network has great videos covering injury prevention and general strength and conditioning.

In terms of mental wellbeing, it helps to remember why we are doing this. Smart social distancing will likely save lives. It also gives us the opportunity to sharpen our mental toughness and to train our minds to overcome setbacks. As LeBron James says, often “we are so focused on strength, we forget to strengthen our focus.” There are many apps to help guide you. The Calm app has a mental fitness series aimed at athletes whilst Headspace have put together a free pack specifically for Covid-19 pandemic called Weathering the Storm. Check out other tips in our guide to keeping your spirits up in times of uncertainty.

We are in this together. Let’s keep active, build strength and stay sane during these extraordinary times. See you in transition soon! For more general ideas for keeping active during self-isolation check out our training article here.