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Winter training: Benefits of starting sooner rather than later



You've just finished your season, and it's time to relax a bit. Spend some quality time with the family, friends and get on top of your own life admin.


There are two types of athlete that we tend to see pre the new year.


Type 1: I'll start in January.

Type 2: Two days is enough, I'm gagging to get back at it.


We're going to look at the pro's and con's of both of these types of athlete, and why we winter training can be a massive asset, or danger, to them regarding 2 main areas: race season fitness, and injury prevention.



Race season fitness

Winter training provides the foundation to the summer race season. The earlier you start training, the more volume you can put in throughout the non race season, and therefore the more you can carry through the race season itself, as you're able to maintain a good volume of training in between races. We tend to look at your 6 month average as a good indication of this.


For example: If you're average training volume for the past 6 months is 12 hours a week, then an 8 hour week with a race in it is still a 25% reduction and therefore a taper week, but you're still doing 8 hours of exercise and therefore you're keeping a decent level of fitness.


If you're only used to 8 hours on average, then 6 hours is a fair bit less, and includes a race within it. Recovering from that in comparison to your baseline being 12 hours, will be far harder. So if you're wanting to have a good week of training after the race so you can bounce back quicker, it's not on the cards.


So two main take aways from having a good 6 month average prior to race season:

  • You can maintain a higher level of fitness throughout the race season, therefore performing better for longer.

  • You can race more because you can bounce back and recover off of a race quicker.


Injury and Illness

Starting earlier means that you're able to build fitness more gradually, reducing the risk of injury and illness significantly! The earlier you start, the less of a rush there is to start putting in the big volume and sessions straight away.


If you're able to build into the training, then the body will get used to the volume and intensity, and therefore it won't be such a shock to the system, which would put it on the back foot!


This goes for general loading of the body, and systematically. So loading being the injury risk, and system intensity being the illness risk.


Type 1 vs Type 2

Now, both of these are absolutely fine, however, both have their pro's and cons.


You might be mistaken in thinking that Type 2 may be the preferred option going by what has been said before, but this isn't always true.


It massively depends on whether or not they've done it before and are able to navigate a training program and their training intensities correctly, or they have someone that they are working with who's keeping an eye on them to ensure their loading is managed.


Let's look at the pro's and con's of the type 1 and 2


Type 1


Pro's

  • Get to properly recover from their race season

  • Able to spend quality time with family and friends without being shattered

  • Get on top of work and life admin properly

  • Raring to go in the new year

Con's

  • Lack of training volume

  • May be inclined to rush to get fit

  • High injury and illness risk

Type 2


Pro's

  • Get the mental and physical stimulation of exercise throughout the year

  • Training volume potentially maintained

  • Could be a reduction in injury risk

  • Have time to build volume steadily

Con's

  • If unguided, training can be haphazard and actually cause more injury

  • Lack of mental rest away from training

  • Could carry fatigue from previous season (physical and mental)


Advice


If you can start training sooner rather than later, it's far more beneficial than leaving it. This does come with the caveat that you should do this under some form of guidance, whether this be a coach, training plan or club.



There are plenty of ways to motivate yourself to start training during the winter months, however we won't go into them here, instead i'll leave some links to other pages that have already done it:



This being said, you haven't missed the boat even if you start after January! Get in touch and see if we can give you some direction, even if it's pointing you towards some good plans, coaches or clubs.


A quote that can always be applied:


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Drop us a message: Contact us now


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