Training Tactics For The Winter Months

November 20, 2017

Triathlon training through the colder months can be a challenge for those of us who live where it snows. And even if it doesn’t snow where you live, it’s darker and colder.  When you add to that the holidays that go along with a lot of those colder months, it can be a really difficult time to remain motivated to train.  But maintaining fitness is important for your training as well as your overall health, and there are certainly things you can do to keep going during the colder, darker months of the year.

One of the most important things to keep in mind during this time of year is to be flexible. Shorten a long ride for a family holiday obligation.  Maybe do a trainer ride instead of a run because of a snow storm. Don’t be afraid to move things around or compromise a bit. There will be plenty of time to follow the schedule exactly once the weather improves and the holidays end.

Winter can also be a great time to try something new. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are excellent substitutes for running and biking so take advantage of the snow! Fat biking has also become quite popular and can help you get out on your bike and off the trainer in snowy conditions.

If you aren’t into braving the cold, or are lacking the snow required for some of these alternatives, there are so many great ways to keep indoor training interesting. Join a masters group and work on that swimming. Zwift is an excellent way to remain connected with friends on your smart trainer and get a great workout. Find a group cycling class where you can bring your bike and ride with others or get your own group together and meet up to ride your trainers. Find a group of runners to help keep you motivated and brave the weather. If groups or smart trainers aren’t your thing, you can always get yourself hooked on a new TV series and only allow yourself to catch up when you ride the trainer or run on the treadmill.

If none of these alternatives are appealing to you, you can get out and brave the elements. One of the keys to enjoying outdoor winter training is to dress appropriately for it. With the right gear, there is no reason that you should be cold and miserable when riding or running outside in the winter. It takes some trial and error to figure out how warm you need to dress for what temperatures, but you’d be surprised that even a run when it’s ten below zero can be just fine when you are wearing the right clothes. Although I have still not found a solution for frozen eyelashes, I can tell you, you get used to those.

Another thing you can do is use this time to work on a weakness. For a lot of triathletes, this means more swimming. Swimming is one of the only things that doesn’t really change over the winter. Hopefully your indoor pool is the same temperature whether it’s January or July!  So this is a great time to get in a good swim block. It’s also a great time to hit the weight room and work on strength or any imbalances you might have, or build muscle.

Winter can be a tough time to train for a lot of us, but try not to let it get you down. Try some new things, get a little creative, and try to have fun with it. You may just surprise yourself with how fit you are once the weather finally warms up. 

~Molly Zahr - QT2 Level 1 Coach who is currently using these tactics for herself to train for an early March Ironman, through the cold New Hampshire winter