Winter sportive Training Tips from the Pros

Couple bad weather with Christmas cheer and December has all the makings of a training write-off. We catch up with Yorkshire's local professionals and performance coaches to ask what their training schedule looks like in December and how to balance turbos sessions with turkey sittings.    

Connor Swift - Current National Road Race Champion, Rides for Madison Genesis

Connor Swift

“Throughout December I will be doing a lot of base miles - generally backing up long rides together lasting 4-5 hours. I will have two rest days a week or two easy days.

“In my longer rides I will include big gear, low cadence for 10/20 mins at a time repeated between 3 to 5 times throughout the ride.”

“In addition to riding the bike I will also do two gym sessions a week and try to get in the pool to swim weekly too.”

“This time of the year is great to get out in a group rather than slogging the cold winter miles solo. During Christmas time it’s important to enjoy yourself and not slave away. So, the week prior to Christmas may be slightly bigger. If I skip Christmas Day then it’s not too bad.

“If you do want to train on any of the festive days I would recommend getting a quick hour in on the turbo in the morning and that way you have trained and can still enjoy a full day with the family. On the turbo do some big gear efforts or maybe 2 x 10 min sweet spot.”

Scott Thwaites - Professional Cyclist, Rides for Dimension Data

Scott Thwaites

“In December I start to introduce some efforts covering all zones and 2-3 strength and conditioning sessions in the gym.”

“My tops tips would be to enjoy the festive mood but only in moderation. Eat according to how you’ve trained. If you’ve done a big session then enjoy a nice meal and some sweet treats or a drink.

“In terms of training on the bike; keep the sessions short and intensive so you spend less time out in the cold. 

“Plan your sessions so that you do the longer rides on the nicer days and a short session or a home-trainer ride when the weather is bad. Zwift is a great tool to use in the Winter.”

Tom Pidcock - Current European U23 Cyclocross Champion, Rides for TP Racing/Team Wiggins

Top Pidcock

“I’m in Girona for the first two weeks of December doing some longer base miles to keep the endurance base, then add some intensity before heading back to Belgium for a couple of weekends of racing. 

“In Belgium I’ll keep the intensity because the weather will probably we awful there. While in Belgium in deep winter it’ll just be about doing just enough because it’s easy to get fatigued and/or ill when it’s cold outside.

Christmas is a time to relax and refresh your body and spend time with your family. Christmas is almost the mid-point of the winter so is perfectly timed for a break. I go riding with group rides, which is quite easy because everyone is off work for Christmas - so there should be a ride going out everyday. After Christmas I’ll head somewhere warm again.”

Graham Briggs - Professional Cyclist, Rides for JLT Condor

Graham Briggs 

"It's important to set goals to remain focused in winter. I'm using Cyclocross races in December, with my aim being a top 10 at the National Cyclocross Championships in January.

"In December I'll be doing lower mileage; maximum 3 hour rides on the road with a few high-intensity turbo session during the week. I also enjoy Doncaster chain gang, plus an hour each side of the 1 hour race-pace effort chain gang provides.

"In December I include two gym sessions with weights and core work and also a 5km run for cyclocross training."

"In winter it's important to keep healthy and get plenty of sleep to try and stay away from illness.

"On Christmas Day I'll do a very short indoor training session on Zwift then be with my family. Then a Cyclocross race on Boxing Day."

Gabriella Shaw - Professional Cyclist, Rides for Brother UK- Tifosi p/b Onform

Gabriella Shaw

"Training in December is a mixture of long base miles and also starting to introduce some intensity back into the mix.

"This December I’ll be balancing my training around my job and rehab for an ongoing injury. It's important to be organised, so plan training in advance and make sure you use your time wisely. When busy, plan an intense session on the turbo or an early morning road ride."

"It’s important to find a balance and enjoy the Christmas period off the bike as well. I’ve always taken Christmas Day off to spend the day with the family but I know other people like to take advantage of the quiet roads."

Tom Murray - Coach at Mint Cycling & Resident Struggle Coach 

Tom Murray  

“Get a good block of training in early December and then enjoy some down time knowing you have earned it.”

“Add split sessions to your days. You may not be able to commit as much time on the bike over Christmas, but two short and specific sessions may be of more benefit - at half the time - and it won’t upset the family traditions or see you miss out on a second turkey helping. Family and friends are important as they support you. 

“Pack your overnight bag in the car, wave the family off and then ride to your relatives. I find this is a great way of sneaking rides in you wouldn’t otherwise get done. It’s December - don’t forget the cape! Don’t forget to enjoy it!”

Simon Beldon - Coach at Matt Bottrill Performance Coaching

Simon Beldon

“December is an endurance phase. Gain some longer hours in the saddle by riding in small groups. 

“December is also a time to introduce bike strength work and up the intensity slightly with sweetspot efforts. A small amount of VO2 max work is also beneficial, usually on the turbo until it warms up outside again.”

“If you have a good chunk of time off at this time of the year use it wisely and get some miles in on the road whilst you can. Go out with a plan and think about the purpose of the particular session you are doing and why.”

“Christmas is a time for family, friends and enjoyment so do just that! Cycling is a hobby at the end of the day, so that extra mince pie or a couple of beers isn’t going to compromise your season right now.” 

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