We continue our Winter Riding Series with Helen Jenkins, as we give you top tips and knowledge on training and nutrition from a two-time World Triathlon Champion and three time Olympian. 

"Let’s face it, the last 12 months haven’t gone as planned! All athletes, no matter the level or sport, are hoping to have things to do by the summer, so the winter of 2021 is something we all probably need to put a bit more thought and planning into. 

There are races scheduled, but will they happen? Who knows? All we can be sure of is that we are still stuck at home – it is a unique scenario we find ourselves in."

Helen Jenkins Triathlete

"Part of my solution is to have more short-term goals in my training while still focusing on the races that currently have dates next to them. In short, we have to commit to those goals, and be confident that things are going to happen! If they change, then our training will have to change with it. 

Keeping that in mind, it makes waking up and going to train so much easier. Don’t doubt too much and try and stay away from the negative which all of us have in the back of our mind – “ahhhhhhh, summer will be canceled again…”. Instead, let’s hold onto the positives. We have a goal. We have a plan and we are sticking to it. Regardless of what happens, we will be fitter and in better shape, if we put our plan into action.

Races will happen, normal life will return so let’s keep moving forward. But where do we start? First, you need to pick your Race, event, or challenge. Once you’ve picked it, commit to it. Having the goal is the best way to stay focused."

Helen Jenkins Vitus

"Now we have the goal, we can make our plan. Before putting pen to paper to create our plan, here are a few of the things I ask myself:"

  • Where do I want to be by the time the event comes? 
  • How many sessions can I realistically manage in the weeks leading up to the event?
  • How many hours am I able to train each week?
  • When is best for me to train?
  • With homeschooling, working from home, we need to train smarter around family and life commitments.
  • Use early mornings and evenings if you need to.
  • Smart trainers and virtual training are great aids. Sure, some people will love being outside but if it’s not practical and if time is limited the virtual workout can be as productive as the outside work out if not more. Below are three progressive sessions I like to do on the turbo over the winter, why not give them a try.
  • Accountability can really help motivation, even if you make a note of your training plan for the coming week you have it in black and white. Tell your partner, “this is what I am going to do this week.” Get someone else to hold you accountable.
  • In this endless cycle we are in, try and mix things up, don’t ride or train on the same roads or same routes. Mix up the terrain and try something different. I have lived in the same place all my life and until 10 years ago was unaware of all the off-road cycling, I have from my door. I much rather be out on my trail bike now than I do the road. No cars and probably a better surface than the roads especially after snow. If you aren’t sure where your off-road loops are, ask someone, once you find them, you will love them ... I hope!
  • Company is a great motivator, so arrange to meet training partners - socially distanced or virtually. It’s been great the last few weeks having some Jinx Sport sessions on Zwift and even though we are miles away from each other, I was surprised the lift I got from the feeling we were training in a group. If you find mornings or evenings hard after exhausting days of work and homeschooling, knowing you are meeting someone forces you to do it when you least feel like it.


Winter Nutrition

"With the long Winter miles of January being undertaken and goal’s firmly in place, it’s good to ask lots of questions including, ‘do I know what I am going to do with my nutrition in a race?’ and ‘Have I kicked off the new year with positive changes?’

To start with we try and cut out, or at least reduce the level of junk consumed through December. It’s lockdown so we all still deserve a treat for surviving but make it one day a week, not every day."

Here are some of the simple principles we aim to work towards;

Eat the right amounts of fuel at the right time of day " I use this simple adage to help focus the volume of food I eat during the day, to ensure I have enough of what I need for the day but not excessive amounts at the wrong times that just get turned into fat – “Breakfast like a Queen, lunch like a princess, dinner like a pauper” but as I say above, lockdown and everything in moderation so don’t be afraid of eating like a King or Queen the odd evening. My Chinese take away would surely miss me."

Eating the rights things at the right time of day

Mealtime: "To ensure that on top of the right amount of food, I am eating the right things, I tend to have more carbs in the morning and with lunch. Protein and healthy fats with lunch and dinner for repair and fruits and veg with all meals for vitamins and minerals. One of my favourite healthy meals for lunch or dinner to promote repair and recovery is the turkey chili recipe.

 After hard or longer sessions: I use CLIF Protein bars to help aid recovery. A lot of these products taste too good, so try not to snack on them too much! 

Supplements: I use supplements when I am upping my training levels and intensity or when I need to boost my immune system, at the moment I am taking a multivitamin, Omega 3 fish oils and vitamin C, and D 

I also drink Athletic Greens every morning which gives me an extra boost of energy. It has 75 superfoods, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics that aid all areas of performance and health. 

Training with what you will race with: 

The sooner you get comfortable with a nutrition strategy the easier it will be on race day. Fueling the long rides is something a lot of athletes are poor at. I know if I don’t start taking my favourite CLIF Bloks and hydration in a ride then I will pay for it hugely later in the session and the next day. At the moment I am using Precision Hydration electrolyte tabs and finding them very effective. 

After long and harder sessions, Marc and I need to remind each other to get the recovery/protein in – even before changing out of cold wet gear. The sooner you take it, the quicker the recovery begins. 

We find it’s definitely the time and the year to pay a bit more attention to what we are eating and drinking. If you aren’t sure about what and how to change it’s worth talking to an experienced nutritionist or Doctor. I have been working with Will Gurling for the last number of years to make sure my nutrition is where it should be. 

If you are stuck for a session, here are some of the workouts Marc and I like to do on the home trainer at this time of year:

Session 1


  • Progressive 5/4/3/2/1 building power in each block
  • 5 minutes (easy or Watts at 50-65% FTP)
  • 4 minutes (steady or Watts at 70-75% FTP)
  • 3 minutes (steadier or Watts at 80-85% FTP)
  • 2 minutes (getting hard or Watts at 95-100% FTP)
  • 1 minute (hard or Watts at 100-105% FTP)
  • 5 minutes easy

Main Set

  • 3 x 30 seconds building each 10 seconds so last 10 seconds is almost a sprint with 30 seconds recover
  • 10 seconds hard or Watts at 110%+ FTP
  • 10 seconds hard or Watts at 130%+ FTP
  • 10 seconds hard or Watts at 150%+ FTP or more…go full-blown sprint track cyclist
  • 30 second easy or Watts at 60-65% FTP
  • Repeat 3 times
  • 5 minutes easy (easy or Watts at 60-65% FTP)
  • 6 x 5 minutes with 3 minutes recovery
  • 5 minutes – All out efforts (if will be in the region of 105-125%ftp) and looking to hold the best power achievable for each of the 5 mins and not losing too much power as the sessions goes on. Record your average power here for Session 2 (You could start off @ 4 reps or reduce the time interval and hold the No of reps)
  • 3 minutes recovery – easy or Watts at 60-65% FTP

Repeat 6 times

Warm Down

  • 15 minutes warm down, descending power in each block 1/2/3/4/5
  • 1 minute (hard or Watts at 80% FTP)
  • 2 minutes (getting easier or Watts at 70% FTP)
  • 3 minutes (steadier or Watts at 65% FTP)
  • 4 minutes (steady or Watts at 60% FTP)
  • 5 minutes (easy or Watts at 55% FTP)


Session 2



  • Same as session 1 (5/4/3/2/1)

Main Set

  • 5 minutes easy (easy or Watts at 60-65% FTP)
  • 5 x 10 seconds max power with 50 seconds easy
  • 10 seconds at max power…go full-blown sprint track cyclist
  • 50 seconds easy (easy or Watts at 50-55% FTP)
  • 5 minutes easy (easy or Watts at 50-55% FTP)
  • 4/5x 8 minutes with 4 minutes recovery (90%FTP) 
  • 6 minutes at 20 watts below what you were able to hold for the 6 x 5 mins in Session 1
  • 2 minutes as hard as you can hold (100%FTP)
  • 4 minutes recovery – easy or Watts at 55% FTP

Repeat 6 times

Warm Down

  • 15 minutes warm down as in session 1 (1/2/3/4/5)


Session 3 (The session I don’t like but know how much I need to do it)



  • Same as previous sessions (5/4/3/2/1)

Main Set

  • 5 x 30 seconds hard with 30 seconds recovery
  • 30 seconds hard or Watts at 130%+ FTP (best efforts)
  • 30 second easy or Watts at 60% FTP
  • Repeat 5 times
  • 5 minutes easy (easy or Watts at 60% FTP)
  • 6 repetitions of:
  • 15 seconds at max power…go full-blown sprint track cyclist
  • 2 minutes at 6 x 5 min session power (100%FTP+)
  • 10 seconds at max power…go full-blown sprint track cyclist
  • 1 minute at 6 x 5 min session power (100%FTP+)
  • 5 seconds at max power…go full-blown sprint track cyclist 5 minutes easy (easy or Watts at 60-65% FTP)

Warm Down

  • 15 minutes warm down as in previous sessions (1/2/3/4/5)


Keep an eye out for the next installments of Winter Riding with Helen Jenkins coming soon! 



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