Free Winter Triathlon Training Plan

Essential winter triathlon training tips and a free 4-week training plan to get you started.

The hardest thing about winter triathlon training is getting started. It’s not easy when the days are short and the weather’s not so great. The key is to start off gently and then build up gradually. If you start off with a small amount of regular training, it won’t require so much will-power to keep it going. After a couple of weeks you’ll have built some momentum, making it easier to continue. The tricky part is getting through those first few weeks.

To help you get started I’ve created a free four week training plan (see below). It can be used to train for any type of triathlon, because it’s simply designed to get the ball rolling. It’s a perfect way to ease back into training, so that your training becomes a daily habit. After completing it you can then build your training up for your individual goals. We’ll cover that at the bottom of this article.

When it comes to winter triathlon training, consistency is king. You don’t need to rack up endless hours of training in dark, cold and wet conditions. It’s far better to do a handful of quality workouts each week, but do them consistently for several months. This will set you up nicely for the Spring and Summer, when you’ll be able to increase your training-hours in better conditions.

You don’t want to start too early either. If you’re aiming to race in the Spring and Summer, the best time to start ramping up your training is mid-December or early January (or June/July if you’re in the Southern hemisphere). Otherwise the winter will drag on forever and you’ll be past your peak by the time you race. Fear not, you can get extremely race fit with four or five months of good training. More isn’t always better.

For a longer schedule with more support, preview my 4 to 48 week triathlon training plans.

Before I explain how to use the four week plan, I want to give you my 5 Top Winter Training Tips. These are ways to make your winter training more fun and less of a chore. And that’s the secret in winter. There are no prizes for suffering. You just need to make it as enjoyable and effective as possible.

Top Five Winter Triathlon Training Tips

  • Try and train at lunchtime at least once per week. If you work all day it might be the only way you’ll train in daylight between Monday and Friday.
  • It’s counterintuitive, but wear thin socks for cycling outside. Thin socks provide a gap between your toes and the shoe, which traps warm air to keep your toes warm.
  • People who exercise before work have been shown to train more consistently than those who aim to train after work. Get your kit ready the night before, so it’s easier to get out of the door.
  • If you use an indoor bike trainer, make sure you leave a bike on it permanently. This means you don’t have to set it up every time, so you’re more likely to hop on it regularly. Try online virtual cycling at Zwift.com to make things more fun.
  • If you run in the dark, increase your safety with reflective gear and a flashing light that you can wear on your arm.

How to Follow Your 4-Week Winter Triathlon Training Plan

Training Zones

To make things easy I’ve not specified heart rates, wattages or pace guidelines for these workouts. I’ve simply used perceived exertion (PE) as a guide. However, if you have a power meter, GPS watch or heart rate monitor feel free to use them.

Running

I’ve set you a 5km run race or time trial each Saturday (except for week 4). You might even have a Park Run (parkrun.com) in your area. These are free 5km timed events that won’t take up too much of your weekend. They are great speed-work sessions and having people around you will help push you to faster times. Do them consistently throughout winter and your times will gradually tumble. This will make you a faster runner over all distances. It’s such an efficient use of your precious time.

Swimming

I’ve taken a similar stance with swimming too. Training in a group is by far the best way to improve, particularly if you have a coach on poolside. Check out your local triathlon club or masters swim group. If you don’t feel you’re up to that level, invest in some regular swim lessons until you are. Failing that, organise to swim regularly with a few friends or people you’ve met at your local pool. The bottom line is that you’ll hardly improve if you just plod up and down on your own at the local pool.

Cycling

I’ve set you a fairly intense midweek indoor session which you can do at a gym or at home using a turbo trainer or static bike. We recommend you progress these sessions each month by around 5-minutes in duration. If you have access to a power meter, you should also aim to increase your power by around 5 watts per month. Then at the weekends do an easier ride, that should get gradually longer each month depending on the race distance you’re aiming for.

Recovery

If it all sounds rather tiring, you’ll be pleased to know there’s an active recovery phase in week 4. That doesn’t mean you can spend seven days with your feet up, eating chips whilst watching sport on TV. But it does mean you’ll have a little more time and energy for other things. And don’t feel you have to train on the exact days we’ve specified. You can always swap things around to suit you.

4-Week Winter Triathlon Training Plan

Week 1:

Monday

Run 40-minutes at an intensity you could maintain a conversation at 5/10 Perceived Exertion (PE)

Tuesday

Group or club swim session, 45 minutes

Wednesday

Indoor bike session.

  • Warm Up: 15 minutes at 5/10 Perceived Exertion (PE).
  • Main Set: 5×5 mins at 8/10 PI +2 mins recoveries at 5/10 PE.
  • Warm Down: 10 mins at 5/10 PE.
Thursday

Group or club swim session, 45 minutes

Friday

Day Off

Saturday

5km run race or time trial

Sunday

Cycle 1 hour 30 at a steady pace (5/10 PE)


Week 2:

Monday
Run 45-minutes at an intensity you could maintain a conversation at (5/10 PE)
Tuesday
Group or club swim session, 50 minutes
Wednesday

Indoor bike session.

  • Warm Up: 15 minutes at 5/10 PE.
  • Main Set: 9, 8, 7 mins all at 8/10 PE +2 mins recoveries at 5/10 PE.
  • Warm Down: 10 mins at 5/10 PE.
Thursday

Group or club swim session, 50 minutes

Friday

Day Off

Saturday

5km run race or time trial

Sunday

Cycle 1 hour 45 at a steady pace (5/10 PE)


Week 3:

Monday
Run 50-minutes at an intensity you could maintain a conversation at (5/10 PE)
Tuesday
Group or club swim session, 55 minutes
Wednesday

Indoor bike session.

  • Warm Up: 15 minutes at 5/10 PE.
  • Main Set: 15 mins at 8/10 PI +2 mins recovery, 10mins at 8/10 PE.
  • Warm Down: 10 mins at 5/10 PE.
Thursday

Group or club swim session, 55 minutes

Friday

Day Off

Saturday

5km run race or time trial

Sunday

Cycle 2 hours at a steady pace (5/10 PE)


Week 4:

Active recovery week
Monday

Day off

Tuesday

Group or club swim session, 45 minutes

Wednesday

Indoor bike to run session.

  • Warm Up: Cycle 15 minutes at 5/10 PE.
  • Main Set: Cycle 6,5,4 mins all at 8/10 PE +60 secs rests
  • Run: 20 mins as (3 mins at 8/10, 7mins at 5/10 PE)
Thursday

Group or club swim session, 45 minutes

Friday

Day Off

Saturday

Run 40-minutes at an intensity you could maintain a conversation at (5/10 PE)

Sunday

Cycle 1 hour 30 at a steady pace (5/10 PE). Optional coffee stop.


Good luck with you training,
Phil Mosley
PS: Want more motivation and structure this winter? Preview our 4 to 48 week online triathlon plans.
PPS: Connect with us on Instagram for regular training tips and articles.
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Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)
Phil Mosley (Coach & Founder)

Phil is a recognised expert in the field, having featured on many endurance sports publications. He founded MyProCoach in 2010 to sell premium training plans complete with email coach support for triathlons, duathlons, running & cycling.

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About Phil Mosley

About Phil Mosley

Phil is a successful coach & athlete, having sold over 10,000 training plans on TrainingPeaks and been featured on countless publications. His focus is on smart training that still leaves quality time for your family, friends & career. You can browse learn more about MyProCoach here or preview your training plan now.

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