Why December is the best time to train



When signing up for 70.3 East London the first thing most athletes ask themselves before they click the “submit” button is: can I train through December?!


Unfortunately, East London 70.3 happens to be at the end of January so the majority of one’s training needs to be through December and early Jan. Most of us have holiday plans, so we land up juggling family time, socialising and training, which can often be recipe for disaster.


Your non-athletic family members are constantly asking why on earth you are doing all this ridiculous amounts of exercise on holiday and you seem to spend your life justifying why you HAVE to go for that 2 hour ride, or you sneak out at 4am so that no one asks what you’re doing… sound familiar?


Bottom line is, even with all the raised eye brows while the family sit suntanning and you come in after a brutal 1 hour run in humidity that you just aren’t used to… the training must continue and you need to actually use the extra time to put in those extra miles that you couldn’t manage in November.


Many athletes don’t  have access to a swimming pool – which is not a bad thing because it forces you to find a lake/dam or sea to do some much-needed open water practice. Instead of just swimming up and down aimlessly, plan a session of sorts. Eg. 4 sets of 40 strokes HARD, 40 strokes EASY. Try and get a buddy to swim with you so that you can practice drafting.


Claire Horner doing what she does best.


If the roads aren’t safe around your holiday area, jump on a mountain bike or take your indoor trainer with you and do some quality indoor rides. On an indoor trainer it is easier to focus on specific HR zones or power zones. East London is hilly, so I’d recommend a minimum of 1 session a week doing a hilly ride staying seated on climbs to build hip strength, or, if you’re on the indoor trainer, do a hill simulation session eg. 4 x 5min gradient at 5-6%; cadence at 55-60RPM, 85% effort with a 5min easy spin between each.


Running we can pretty much do anywhere – it is also great finding new routes in an area you don’t know well. If you don’t have a measured track or a gps unit, alter your sessions to more Fartlek type sets (*a system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are continually varied). You should also include some hill work in the sets because East London is by no means a flat run. A great session we get our athletes to do is as follows: warm up; 6 x 30sec hill sprints – just down easy each time for recovery; Fartlek on undulating route: 6 x 3min HARD 2min EASY; finish with 6 x 30sec hill sprints; cool down.


Being away from work eliminates that stress so we can apply more energy to our training. Don’t run away from the rest of the world though – there is still plenty of time to enjoy the amazingly delicious lunches with the family before heading out to train. And, if you plan to get up early you can literally be done with your first session before the rest of the world wakes up.


Happy training everyone & enjoy the festive season.




© 2011 Chris Hitchcock
© 2011 Chris Hitchcock



Claire Horner is the owner of MTD Triathlon Academy along with her husband Kent. She has her BA in Sports Science, as well as her Level 2 Triathlon coaching certificate and Ironman university certificate. She also has a diploma in Nutrition from Oxford College, as well as being a HIGH5 and Rudy Project ambassador.