Winter Workout Ideas

a triathlete riding a bike
February 25, 2020

Jim Hallberg


I have personally been using my treadmill more and more lately. Partly due to cold temps and early mornings, and partly due to convenience.  Treadmill running can provide a few benefits including a little more cushion for all the miles you may be running, helping you with pacing, as well as convenience.  For example, starting a run when the kids are still asleep, being able to avoid the pitfalls of winter training including early morning or evening darkness, traffic and the cold.  

It is not uncommon for me to do or prescribe (to my athletes) a bike and a run, or a run and a swim on the same day, and being able to turn in a double workout as a brick without having to change into winter gear can be very handy and time-effective too.  Here are a couple of ideas you might consider in your winter multi-session workouts.

I suggest this bike interval session and a 30-minute run.  (I call it a multi micro brick repeat):

Start with a bike warm-up and then do half of the bike intervals, hop-off and do a 15-minute treadmill run, then back to the bike for the remainder of my bike intervals with the last 15 minutes back on the treadmill for my run. 

Because the bike is the focus, I will usually just keep my run in a controlled z2 heart rate, around 25-30 beats below threshold @ 1% grade. 

I can flip this around another day and start a bike warm-up around 20 minutes, hop onto the treadmill and run half my run intervals, then back to the bike for a solid Z2 heart rate ride, and finish with the last of my run intervals. 

I must admit, indoor high volume training can be challenging, but for longer weekend sessions: 

I suggest riding up to an hour or more, then switch and run for 20 minutes, and repeat the cycle as long as is needed to accumulate your goal ride time. 

You can do intervals or some sort of focus on any of your bike or run segments. Work on pacing and fueling. So make sure you have everything you need to consume and probably a bit more due to possible higher sweat rate from being indoors. 

Mixing up between bike, run, bike, run keeps some of the entertainment value and the legs and mind engaged. The time doesn’t creep by so slow. 

Okay, my personal favorite workout?

I will warm up as long as I need to, maybe 45-60 minutes, then turn on YouTube and watch and replicate a Super League Triathlon race at the same time they are doing it on the video. But I try to replicate their intensity for their length of time and work on my transitions. 

For the swim, I will do a set of push-ups and planks, hop on the bike and go full throttle for 10 minutes. Then I will hop off and get on the treadmill for 7 minutes again at threshold. I will repeat this 3x! That’s 30minutes on the bike at or above threshold and 21 minutes of running at threshold. It is a great workout for those training in a variety of distances. 

Watch and simply follow along with what they are doing. There are a ton of great videos. Here are two I personally like.

Feel free to follow me on Strava or join me sometime on Zwift where I do all my indoor rides and runs!  

Coach Jim Hallberg is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Certified Coach and a Training Peaks Level 2 Certified Coach.  He believes that every one of us has the capacity to improve our efficiency, get stronger and run, bike or swim faster. Sure, it takes time, dedication and discipline but it’s possible.

Coach Jim Hallberg notices that some athletes spend too much time focusing solely on their strengths or just on their weaknesses. As a coach, he believes you should work on both. Your strengths can give you a competitive edge in one or more of the disciplines but spend an inordinate amount of time on them and you can forgo progress in other areas. Not enough time and you’ll see them diminish. Same with your weaknesses.  Coach Jim works with you to build a plan to balance the two and make you the best overall athlete you can be!

Coach Jim is a 5X USA Triathlon National Champion, a USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach and USA Cycling Level II Certified Coach.

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