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Mon 21st Oct 2019
December training: what should I do?
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Thursday 3rd December 2015

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The 2015 season has gone, the 2016 season seems a long way off... so what should you be doing right now to be ready for it?

It's cold outside and motivation might be a little low as Christmas approaches, so we asked the guys at Triathlon Performance Solutions ( to help answer the question "what should I be doing and planning in December"?

Here are the thoughts and suggestions of Triathlon Performance Solutions coaches Ben Bright, Nick Saunders and Andy Brodziak to get your December training and preparation in order to set you up for a successful new year.

Upcoming season planning and review of past season

Where have you been, where to you want to go and how are you going to get there? Here's a seven step process to learning from the past year and preparing for the new one.

Step 1: Reflection
Looking back on the year and evaluating what worked, what didn't work and the reasons why. 

Step 2: Goal Setting
Using what you've discovered after reflection, decide on up to three major goals for the season coming. Your goals should be specific to you and realistic. Speak to a coach or an experienced friend if you're unsure or need help here.. 

Step 3: Action the Analysis
Look at your goals and assess what will specifically be required to achieve them. Looking back at past race results will give a clear insight into what you'll need to do. 

Step 4: Strengths and Weaknesses
Based on your analysis you can now compare your own abilities with what your goals will require you to do. Doing this will define your strengths and weaknesses and give you a focus for your preparations. 

Step 5: Process Goals and Races
Along the way it's a good idea to have milestones and markers to ensure you're on track. Putting in some specific test sessions and races as you build up to your goal(s) also breaks up the monotony of training and gives you the chance to test equipment and race strategies. 

Step 6: Race Calendar
Put all of the above into a calendar so you can see how your year is structured. Be careful there is not too much nor too little in there. During the season a race (either a triathlon or a single sports event) every 4-6 weeks is a good period of time between events. 

Step 7: Periodisation and Focus of Training
Break your year up into specific periods of focus and add this to your calendar. This ensures you spend time focussing on particular aspects of technique and physical preparation and don't just keep training and the same intensity every session, all through the year. 

Remember the 6 P's: prior preparation and planning prevents poor performance!


December is a good time to get an idea of what your fitness levels are. Do this by doing some basic field tests or speak to your coach to establish the best way to do this.

At Triathlon Performance Solutions we have basic field tests for both the bike and run disciplines. For the swim we do either a critical speed swim test or a time trial over different distances depending on your race distance.

We do these tests to establish your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and then set training zones corresponding to those thresholds. Training zones highlight the different points during exercise where your body switches between using only the aerobic system, a mix of the aerobic and anaerobic systems and then only the anaerobic system as well as the production and clearance of lactic acid. By identifying and then working on your specific zones and weaknesses in training you will have a more specific training plan and avoid training at the same intensity too often.

Increasing Max Aerobic Power on the Bike

Instead of doing loads of junk miles outside in the freezing cold, this is a brilliant time to do a block of power specific training on the bike.

Your maximal aerobic power (MAP) is the highest power you can sustain for around 6min, give or take 2min either side. It can be a limiting factor to your bike split, no matter if you are racing Sprint or Ironman. If your Threshold power (maximum you can hold for around 45-60min) is too close to your MAP then it's very difficult to move your Threshold power much higher. By pushing your MAP higher you raise your potential Threshold ‘ceiling'. This has obvious benefits for someone racing sprint to Olympic distance events but it also has big impact for longer distance events. Craig Alexander worked specifically on his MAP after being beaten on the bike in Hawaii 2010. In 2011 he was one of the strongest bikers in the race and ran a pretty decent (!) marathon off it to win. Now is a good time to work on your MAP because it can be done in a short session and it's hard to work on at the same time as working on your endurance. You need to be relatively fresh to get the most out of the session.

Example set on turbo:

  • 10min warm up building from and Easy to Tempo intensity
  • 6x30sec with 60sec recovery building each 2 from Threshold to Vo2 intensity
  • 5-6x (3min @ max effort with 2-3min recovery between each effort). Try to keep each effort even and even throughout the set – so your first one is not higher than the rest and there is no big drop off through the set.
  • 10-15min Easy Spinning warm down

There you have a quality power specific session.

Christmas break

Now we all need to be flexible during this time due to family commitments and other interruptions typical of this time of year. Pools are closed, bad weather affects training and, let's face it, we want to have a few drinks, indulge ourselves and not feel guilty about missing training. At Triathlon Performance Solutions we use Christmas as a recovery period due to the nature of the interruptions. Training is reduced and we put in a few optional sessions with little or no intensity.

Playitas, Fuerteventura with Triathlon Performance Solutions

Training camps

This is a perfect time to sit down with the loved one and bargain a week away to ‘work on your weaknesses' or basically get a week away where you don't have to spend 20 minutes getting dressed with layers, to not have to worry about preparing those healthy post ride recovery meals, sleep when you want and top up your Vitamin D levels.

Having been to many venues across the world now, what stands out on all fronts is Playitas resort, Fuerteventura ( Home to many Pro's this winter, Triathlon Performance Solutions hosts a camp in March where we will be joined once again by Ironman UK 2010 winner Fraser Cartmell.

Whatever you decide, if you are planning a summer Ironman or perhaps the World or European Championships, a week of some volume and good uninterrupted training with a coach or some colleagues will be worth its weight in gold later in the season. It's a chance to work on aerobic and neural pathways, improve muscular endurance but most importantly set you up for an even better 2016 than you have planned. CLICK HERE for more information.

Triathlon Performance Solutions

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