Winterize your training
Written by By Coach A.J Johnson
You may not want to think about it, but winter is right around the corner. Training in adverse weather can be difficult, but with a few easy changes in equipment and mindset you can stay fit and have fun through the winter.
First, get in the right frame of mind. Embrace the cold weather and realize it’s an opportunity to get stronger. The discipline it takes to get out the door on a cold, dark morning will serve you well in the summer. Learning to cope with bad weather is a skill, and it takes practice. There is no guarantee of good weather on race day, so treat the snow like you would big waves or high winds on race day.
Simple modifications to your equipment can make it more enjoyable as well. For the run, invest in a good pair of trail shoes, even if you’re on pavement. The extra traction keeps you from sliding around on the ice. Plus, trail shoes tend to be a bit warmer due to the rugged construction and many are waterproof. On the bike you can put a wider, 25c tire on. The extra width gives you a larger contact patch with the road to keep you safer on slick roads. Install some tire liners or Slime to prevent flats. A punctured tire stinks in general, but it really stinks when it’s cold and your hands are numb! You may want to invest in a rear fender to keep any wet spray from soaking your backside. Several models simply clip onto your seat post.
When it comes to what to wear, I am reminded of what my mom always says, “dress appropriately”. In my opinion, the wind is your biggest enemy, especially on the bike. Once the wind cuts through you, it’s nearly impossible to warm up. Find outer layers that have windproof barrier. There are windproof gloves, hats, socks, vests and jackets. Under your jacket you should layer with wicking materials. Your local bike or tri store is full of base layers that pull moisture away to keep you dry. I also like skinsuits to wear on the bike. Having a full suit with long sleeves keeps you much warmer than a bib and jersey combination. It goes without saying that a hat and gloves are mandatory.
Last, you can do different sports. Don’t underestimate the benefit from a long snowshoe hike. It builds power and strength, specifically in your hips and core. Even downhill skiing helps build dynamic power and muscular endurance. Since several of my athletes live in Colorado I build skiing into their programs. You have to keep it fun! My favorite winter sport is skate skiing. It is a tremendous full body workout building strength and aerobic capacity at the same time.
This winter can be your best yet and set you up for a great 2010 triathlon season. Remember that your approach is the key, be prepared and embrace the change of season. With some easy modifications you can stay fit and happy through the cold.