We all have different Ideas on winter training, for some it is a vital time of year, laying the foundation for a big race mid summer or tuning speed for the early season duathlons. For some, winter will be a success if they gain less than 10 pounds. What ever your motivations for this winter; balancing a structured plan with a good dose of spontaneity will get you in the best form ever, physically and mentally.
If you live in the northeast or anywhere that snows in the winter, and your not a pro, you simply can’t train as much in the winter. With darkness coming around 4:30pm, fridged morning temps and icy roads it just not possible. We won’t even get into jobs, girl friends, kids, wives, the patriots game schedule, etc…
So now that we are at peace with the fact that we simply can’t put in as much time as we may want, We can focus on what to do with the time we have.
Find a routine. With cold temps, warm beds and stale indoor air it is easy to get “off track”. Try to find some kind of routine. This could be 1 workout or rendezvous with a friend per week. ie. “every Wednesday morning john and I run together, no matter what.” “Thursday night I do the spinning class at my gym.” Even with only one appointment per week with your body you can maintain your fitness. Find something that works with your schedule so it will be easy to keep this apt and not get side tracked.
This can work for you in a great way if this one work out focuses on your weakness. I have known athletes to turn there swim that puts them 5 minutes down to 1 minute up, over the course of the winter!
These time constraints really hit hard when trying to work on your bike, especially if you are training for an early season ½ or full Ironman. First thing to do is invest in the proper warm clothes. Water/wind proof booties and gloves. Warm tights, thermal cycling jacket, hat or helmet cover. Investing in proper cycling winter gear will make your cold rides more enjoyable, more effective, and maybe a bit longer. One trick for the cold feet is to use shoes 1 size to big and put in two insoles. And don’t jam your feet in there with to many socks. You’ll restrict circulation and have lumps for wood for feet in less than an hour.
The trainer can be your worst enemy and your best ally all at once. If you are going to improve your riding regular visits to the trainer will be a must but they don’t have to be torture.
-Don’t do the same thing day in day out. Mix it up with trainer workouts and the amount of time you spend on it. Try something new once every 2 weeks or so. like watching football with your buddies 3- 4 hr’s with big gear climbs every commercial, sprints every field goal, and hard tempo every time your team is on offence would make even Mark Allan slump over the handle bars by the final 2 minute drill.
-Keep your mind busy. When your not with your friends watch tv, listen to the radio, read.
- stay focused. I have just given you ways to distract your self from your work but the best way I find to make time fly is to have specific workout and stick to it, to the second. Warm up, cool down, some 10 minute strength intervals, rest intervals. You’ll find that riding for less than an hour becomes pretty difficult.
It is important that your take care of both your body and your equipment with the same care as you would in the summer months. Proper nutrition and stretching is vital to staying healthy and on the upward path. Care for your bike and trainer is also a must. Just because your not out in the rain and dirt doesn’t mean you can just get off your bike and be done with it. Salt will build up on your bike and trainer and will destroy both if you don’t clean them. They will surely fail you when you need them most.
Technique work is something that can be and should be incorporated into every workout on the trainer. A clean efficient pedal stroke is something that every triathlete and cyclist can reap huge benefits from, more so than most realize.
One leg pedaling: 30 sec. each leg x3. pedal with one leg. focusing on pushing the pedal all the way around the circle. Keep pressure light and body still.
*incorporate this into your warm up and cool down every time you ride the trainer.
Pedal in a large gear at 50-70 rpm’s (slower than you ever would on the road.) for 1 minute then immediately drop to a low gear and spin a few beats higher than is comfortable. 105 or higher. Do this for at least 10’
This will raise your HR and your excretion level a bit. Don’t focus on working hard rather trying to be efficient and be able to do this for longer and longer periods of time. Level 2-3. This is an excellent way to work both your cardio and your pedaling efficiency.
Eric coaches athletes of all levels in triathlon, cycling, mountain, biking, Cyclocross
and is working with RAAm solo rider this year!