Training on the inside | Lockdown triathlon tips

To build upon our general ideas for keeping active during self-isolation, we dug a little deeper into how us triathletes can maintain strength, fitness and sanity during a lockdown.

Training outside

Though we can still train outside for the moment in the UK, it is wise to not venture too far from home. Think short, fresh air sanity rides and 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. In many countries, lockdown is more severe already. In South Africa, no one is allowed to leave their property for exercise, whilst in France, they must not venture more than 1km from their homes. All in all, it is good to be prepared to move towards the inside.

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.

For most of us, this is not going to be an option, but 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

Whether you have a state-of-the-art smart trainer, rollers or a magnetic trainer, indoor cycling is the optimum way of keeping your bike fitness up. 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’. No trainer? Ask your friends and local triathlon groups if anyone has an old trainer kicking around gathering cobwebs.

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

Whilst we can still go outside once a day to exercise, your run training can continue pretty much as normal. Just don’t be tempted to suddenly up your running to compensate for losing swimming!

If we need to move inside, and for those with no trainer, work in some cardiovascular cross-training, whether skipping, walking up and down your stairs or exploring the world of High Intensity Interval Training. 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!

Pain cave set up

You can go all pro ‘pain cave’ and set up with gear designed especially for the job, or you can just get a little creative. For your home strength workouts, a yoga mat or towel is helpful. For your indoor trainer, a rubber training mat will help reduce vibrations and keep the noise down. Even a bathmat or folded towels will help, but make sure your trainer set up is sturdy so you don’t slip. If you are using a trainer that works with your rear wheel, it can help to have a dedicated training tire – or even wheel – to switch out with the tire you plan on riding outside with. Riding outside on a tire that has been worn down by an indoor trainer is not advisable.

A fan is useful, but otherwise open all of your windows or work out in your garage or garden to maximise fresh air exposure. Set up some sort of stand for your laptop/phone and nutrition. You will need to really watch your hydration as you will sweat a lot more inside. Add electrolytes if possible and don’t forget to eat. Towels are essential. Some strategic sweat wiping will help keep stinging sweat out of your eyes, and when you use the indoor trainer, you must keep as much sweat off the bike as possible. The salt in your sweat is corrosive and will damage your bike. When you are finished, clean the bike well.

Keep entertained with films and TV series for your long easy sessions, hit up a great workout playlist or watch one of the many YouTube triathlon motivation videos. For inspiration, print off your race photos or beautiful photos of mountains, the roaring ocean or an alpine lake. No printer? Hang your old medals up, rip up old triathlon magazines and write out motivational quotes from your favourite triathletes and sportspeople. After all, as legendary cyclist, Greg LeMond said, “it never gets easier, you just get faster!”

Build physical and mental strength

Lastly, use the unexpected time away from your usual training schedule to strengthen your body and mind. 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. Staying at home will save lives! It also gives us the opportunity to sharpen our mental toughness. 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!