In the year 2020, “training indoor or at home” took a different meaning. No one thought earlier that swimming pools in entire countries could be closed. Triathletes adapted to the situation by either reducing or stopping training, but in most cases, by training differently. In this article, I want to show you what I learned over the years from training at home.
The key to training for a triathlon at home is preparation. Firstly, you will need to set up a pain cave. Depending on the number of hours you will train at home and your budget, it can be either minimalistic or really sophisticated. Secondly, you want to make sure that you adapt your training plan to your indoor setup, and finally, if you feel up to the challenge, you can also race from the comfort of your home.
Disclaimer: The Triathlon Tips of My Tri World are reader-supported. When you buy through links, I may earn an affiliate commission.
PAIN CAVE SET UP
The place where you will train at home is called a pain cave. The number of equipment you should have in there is very different whether you plan to spend 1 hour a week in this room or your entire training.
I recommend you watch first the video below from Lionel Sanders. He is a pro triathlete who trains mostly indoor (up to 30 hours a week). He has pretty much the pain cave that all triathletes would dream of. Get inspiration from the types of equipment and create your own setup.
As a mortal triathlete (like me), you will be mostly restricted by the space you have, your neighbors, and your budget.
I only have the space to fit a bike trainer and some weights for strength training in my apartment. So this is where I will focus more on:
PICK THE RIGHT BIKE TRAINER
The days where all you could see when training indoor was the wall are long gone. The rise of smart trainers with 3rd party software is really a game-changer in indoor biking. There are several types of trainers. You should look for controllable trainers where 3rd party apps can control your trainer. It is by far the most immersive experience you can get. For more details, check my article: Not All Smart Trainers Are Worth It.
My recommendation: Every two years, I upgraded to a new trainer, and now I have the Tacx Neo 2T (Amazon affiliate link). It is the most silent one, the one which makes the least vibration but also the most expensive one I tried.
FLOOR MAT AND FANS
When you train outdoor, most of your sweat is evaporating. You won’t have this chance indoors as there is no wind, and the temperature of your room will be relatively high. You should invest in good fan(s) to reduce the sweat you are creating and in a floor mat to protect your floor.
My Recommendation: I bought the Tacx Mat (Amazon affiliate link), which doesn’t let any sweat go through it and helps to reduce the noise. As for fans, I’m still testing some. I didn’t find really good ones yet.
TRIATHLON TRAINING AT HOME
Let’s check sport by sport, starting with the easiest one to do at home:
The easiest sport to train at home is the bike. It is by far the most developed one. Once you picked a controllable smart trainer, you can try indoor apps.
There are plenty of options; some are focused more on social interaction and others on training. To help you decide which one you should try first, I wrote this article which will give you a first glance at the main indoor apps: The Best Indoor Cycling Apps For Riding Real World Roads
My recommendation: try a couple of them (they all have either a free trial period or a money-back period). I personally use Trainerroad for structured training and Rouvy for longer rides and races. My wife prefers the Sufferfest.
If you are one of the lucky ones who has a treadmill, you will also be able to train using some of the indoor apps. Zwift, Rouvy, and Peloton have this possibility.
When I don’t have the possibility to run outside, I usually replace the session with a cardio one following one of the Peloton videos.
You can get really good swim sessions with an endless pool. It replicates the open water swim better than a standard pool (no turn and a current coming at you).
A second option is to invest in a swim bench like Vasa’s SwimErg (website link, no affiliate) for dry land swim training.
I personally don’t have any of those two pieces of equipment. When I can’t go to a pool, I simply replace the swim session with a specific training like the one in the GTN video below:
I bought from Decathlon a set of weight (2,5 kg, 5 kg, and 10 kg) and a good floor mat (20mm thick).
You have thousands of Youtube fitness channels, giving strength training. I personally couldn’t stick with one in the long term.
I can recommend the videos from Peloton that you can access through their app for roughly $15 per month and the ones of Laura Philipp (Pro triathlete) like the one below.
TRIATHLON RACING AT HOME
You can do bike races at home at pretty much any time when using indoor apps. The most popular one for cycling is currently Zwift, but it is not the only one. It is definitely a unique experience you should try.
In 2020, Ironman created its Ironman virtual platform, which allows you to enter virtual competitions (currently held every weekend). A distance for each of the disciplines is set for a specific weekend, and you can complete it anywhere in the world. A run usually replaces the swim.
To make it fairer (especially for pros), they are using the Rouvy application where triathletes are on the same course. Here is a recap of the first event they made:
As you can see, there are plenty of possibilities to train and race from the comfort of your home. Jan Frodeno even did a Full Ironman at home (his Instagram video), so you have no excuse! 🙂