Restarting training after a winter break

taking a break

Restart Your Training After a Winter Break

After the last race of the season, many athletes enjoy a training break.  For anywhere from four to eight weeks, athletes might incorporate complete rest with cross training or unstructured triathlon training.  It is a good idea to take a real break from the sport and allow your body to rest.

Some athletes avoid complete rest as they believe it will be very difficult to get back to their previous level of fitness, but this fear is unfounded.  Taking a break will result in some detraining but aerobic fitness declines slowly.  Underlying fatigue from the previous season is more likely to delay improvement than a break from training.  The number one priority after every season must be rest, particularly for athletes who race Ironman and can accumulate a lot of residual fatigue, low grade injury and general overload.  The minimum post season break should be four weeks and longer if there is injury to resolve.  After that time it is good to get back in action.

Here are five tips to have a strong start to your training build after a break:

1.     Start a functional strength program.

Strength is key for durability in triathlon so starting your new triathlon program incorporating strength work will ensure you have adapted to the additional stimulus before you start to incorporate harder intensity training.  If you already do strength work, ease back into the sessions early on.  Everything should be lower volume and lower intensity to start.

2.     Start slow and easy with all sessions.

Allow your body to readjust to the training schedule.  First slowly increase the volume and frequency of your aerobic training before adding any intensity and then increase back to full training volume mindfully. This should take at least four weeks.

3.     Incorporate a technical focus in the initial training phase.

Many athletes continue to go back to technical fundamentals during all phases of training.  This is particularly important when you start back, as it is a good idea to address any technical weakness in your swimming, your run form and your pedal stroke while you are re-establishing habits.  This is also a good time to do any bike fitting, so that you have adequate time to adjust to any changes in your position before racing.

4.     Set your season goals and plan.

It is very motivating to have goals set early in the year to ensure you have a “North Star” to guide you in day to day training.  This is also a good time to discuss your dreams and goals with friends and family so they understand your commitment to training and will support that commitment from the start.  It is amazing how quickly the weeks pass and suddenly you only have two key sessions left before a big race.  Every single training day counts so you should focus on each and every one accordingly.

5.     Start a journal and record your training.

A daily recap of what you have done in training, how you felt and random observations on the day becomes not only a useful tool to measure improvement, it becomes a treasured history of your life.  Don’t miss the opportunity to write the story of your life in 2016.  It should start with the goals you have set and the very first session.


1.     Madsen, K.; Pedersen, P. K.; Djurhuus, M. S.; Klitgaard, N. A., Effects of detraining on endurance capacity and metabolic changes during prolonged exhaustive exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 1993, (75), 1444-1451.




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