24 Jan 2018 Be Bold in the Cold – Winter Training Tips
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive this time of year is about training. How much training should I do for my ride? Is it necessary? Do I have to train in the winter? We don’t like to think of it as “training” which sounds like a hardship, but more as an activity to help you feel better all around and get you ready for your tour! Here are some of our thoughts and ideas which hopefully you will find helpful.
Cold weather exercise can always be a challenge
Most obviously – it’s cold! This makes exercise even more important. Increasing your circulation will keep you warmer through the winter months. Once you get in the habit, it is quite fun and something you will look forward to. Keeping active throughout the winter will not only keep you in shape, but it will make those spring and summer time activities a breeze. You will be able to bike longer and stronger, and ultimately have more fun while doing it!
If you live in a warm climate year round, well, we hope you are riding plenty!
For everyone else, here are some tips & tricks to pay close attention to:
1. Clothing – Layer, Layer, Layer!
When headed outside to exercise during those cold winter months, it’s very important to dress in layers. Dressing in layers will not only keep you warm, but dressing in the right layers will keep you dry as well. Our favorite next-to-skin layer is a thin merino wool layer. Merino wool is a powerhouse natural fiber! It is super soft, moisture wicking, odor reducing, and temperature regulating, making it perfect for outdoor activities. Your merino wool layer should be followed by either a long sleeve fleece top or insulated vest, with the final layer being an insulated jacket if it’s extra cold or a shell to keep out the wind. These layers fluctuate depending on weather. You want to be slightly chilled when you head out to exercise, giving your body enough space to warm up without overheating. Wearing layers allows you to remove or unzip layers as your body heats up. Dressing in too many layers, and you run the risk of overheating which can lead to hypothermia or even frostbite. Thick socks, gloves and a hat are also very important. For your legs, there are many wind-resistant and/or insulated options. You do not need to spend a ton of money on super fancy, tech brands either! If you aren’t finding what you need, and don’t want to break the bank, try your local Goodwill and TJ Maxx/Marshalls. Many of these stores carry great outdoor gear at a lower price. Take advantage of sales at your local outdoor company and bike shops as well.
2. Sweat – Beware of sweating!
While staying warm is important, a common mistake people make is actually dressing too warm when exercising in cold weather. Remember that exercising will generate body heat and sweat even though it’s cold outside. Once moisture starts to accumulate in your clothes, it will begin cooling down your skin and your body temperature. If it’s really cold outside, it may even end up freezing close to your skin, which can lower your body temperature significantly and increase your risk of hypothermia. This is why we love wearing merino wool as our next-to-skin layer. Choose lightweight fabrics that wick moisture away from your body, keeping your skin dry and warm.
3. Stay Hydrated
Even though it’s cold out, you still need to keep hydrated! Drink before, during and after your workout, even if you don’t feel very thirsty. During the colder months, I even bring a thermos of hot tea or hot chocolate with me during my workout. Did you know that Hot Chocolate is also a great post workout recovery drink? It’s a perfect mix of carbohydrates and proteins for your post workout body and brain.
4. Stay Visible
The easiest way to stay safe when participating in any outdoor activity, is to stay visible. It gets very dark very quickly this time of year, so make sure to wear work out layers with reflective trim if you’re headed outside in dim light.
5. Get Moving
Even if you only have 10 minutes, take a brisk walk! Exercising does not need to take a lot of time to be effective. As you begin building exercise into your daily routine, you will find that you feel better, and the more addictive it will become.
6. Winter Biking is a blast!
Have you thought about winter biking? It can be quite fun. You might live in an area with a local trail which is kept clear of snow. Be cautious if you ride along a road and make sure there isn’t any ice. Another tip is tire size and tire pressure which will make a huge difference! If you are biking on snow, release some air out of your tires so that you are riding on low pressure on wider, fatter tires. This will allow you to travel over the snow, instead of sinking down into it. If you have a local shop that rents snow bikes or fat tire bikes, give it a try! Just as always, be careful on icy/slick surfaces!
“My absolute favorite piece of winter riding equipment are my bar mitts & shoe covers! Bar mitts are insulated mitts that go over your handlebars with velcro, shielding your hands from wind & cold while allowing for full-finger mobility. Shoe covers act the same, sliding over your shoes to keep out the cold air.”
7. Exercise Indoors
Do you have an indoor trainer? Try joining a virtual group to ride with. Check out Zwift to join a training group.
8. Grab a friend
Working out with a friend keeps you motivated, and is just more fun all around!
9. Find a spin class
Spin classes are a great way to train! There are so many different varieties of spin classes now, so find one that suits your skill level and interests. You might even make new cycling friends to ride with when the weather warm up.
10. Go cross country skiing!
If you live in an area where cross country skiing is possible, it is an excellent way to stay fit and active throughout the winter. XC Skiing uses many of the same muscles as cycling does, making it a perfect compliment to your training.
Want some other thoughts or ideas on how to stay fit and active throughout the colder winter months? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to chat about ideas anytime!