Winter Training with the Wurteles
Heather Wurtele has won 6 IRONMAN titles (Coeur d'Alene 2008, 2013, and 2014, St. George 2010 and 2011, Lake Placid 2011) while setting new course records at Ironman St. George, Coeur D'Alene, and Ironman Lake Placid. She has also won 18 Half Iron distance races, 5 of those in 2016 alone, with course records at the St. George, Monterrey and Oceanside 70.3s. And to top a great 2016, she took 2nd place at the 70.3 World Championships.
Trevor Wurtele won the IRONMAN 70.3 New Orleans in 2012. His first full distance IRONMAN win came at IRONMAN Canada in 2013. He's since been a consistent podium finisher, with three 2nd places and a 3rd place at IRONMAN Canada in 2016.
During the winter months, these athletes use Nordic skiing as part of their training routine. Let's hear more from Heather and Trevor on how they get through the cold months with great preparation for their racing season to come.
As much as we enjoy sunshine and warmth, we prefer living in a climate with four distinct seasons. Yaaaay Canada! Mentally, it helps keeps things fresh, and physically we get to change up the training routine. Both are good things for longevity in sport.
Winter is definitely the most drastic change we see all year in terms of training structure. After the last race of the year we take 3 weeks totally off triathlon training. Typically for us this is at the end of October or November. We're far from sedentary during those few weeks, taking advantage of our free time for some mountain biking, Nordic Skiing, winter hikes, and definitely spending a lot more time in the hot tub at our local pool. This year we needed even more of a change so took some time to travel without our bikes, head over to Europe to watch a bit of Belgian cyclocross, go castle hunting, see Amsterdam and drink quite a few Trappist ales.
Once those three weeks (maybe even 4 if we're not feeling recovered enough) are over, it's time for us to get back into a triathlon specific routine. Keeping in mind, of course, that triathlon is our job. If we want to improve year after year, and be competitive with the best in the world, these winter months are very important as a long stretch of uninterrupted training. If we did this sport purely for fun (don't get us wrong, we love it), we'd probably enjoy a few more winter activities and spend more time in the mountains skiing.
The races are a calling though, so we tend to take a week or two to ease back into it, with an emphasis on frequency of workouts as opposed to any major individual sessions. This varies a lot for individual athletes, but for us, this year, we swim 6 days per week for a total of around 25km. Typically during race season we swim 5 times per week, but a bit higher volume per session.
Over the winter, all of our cycling is done on the trainer until we head south in February. This involves 4 rides per week at this point, with two very intense sessions and two longer but moderate effort rides. If we had fat bikes, it would definitely be cool to do some of these in the snow! Our longest ride indoors is typically in the 3-3.5 hour range until we see actual pavement in February. Nowadays, with programs like Zwift, that time goes by pretty darn quick and it helps us keep the effort level high when we need to… sometimes higher than we need to with those KOM, sprint, and lap segments! If you see us on there, give us a wave!
Running, we maintain 7 runs per week, but nothing over 1:30 just yet, and a lot of incline (10%), mostly on a treadmill. On sticky-snow days we hit the Mission Creek greenway or the trails above Kelowna for runs, and to keep from totally losing our minds with all the indoor training we do a few hours of Nordic skiing at least once per week. The beauty of the snow, and the peace of the forest in winter is something we really look forward to - especially when we can get up above the typical Okanagan cloud layer and into the sun. It's also a great cardio workout, hits some swim specific upper body muscles, and works those glutes! The wind on your face, and some speed on the downhill bits makes up for the static trainer time a bit too. Add to this a core/weights routine, twice per week, and what looks relatively easy on paper starts to create some serious fitness as the winter rolls along.
At this point, the first week of January 2017, we're starting our 6th week of the build for this coming season. Another 6 weeks or so of a very similar routine with a progressive training load, and we'll be super fired up to get our bikes outside!! December, January and February can be mentally tough months, with short daylight hours, lots of hard work on tap, and no races in the near future, but we just focus on executing each individual session the best we can, and add some fun, snowy sessions to escape and refresh!
Follow Heather and Trevor in their 2017 season right here on the Garneau blog. And, if you are looking for some great Nordic pieces, click here to see our winter line-up.