Triathletes guide to winter survival
For the northern hemisphere – we are entering that strange period where we emerge from our off season caves dying to start training yet paradoxically living in dread of falling ill from some evil fitness eating virus (aka the common cold or flu).
So here are some hints/tips to survive the winter months
Disclaimer: Each time I write a new blog I feel a little like Bones from a Classic Star Trek episode “For Gods sake Jim, I am a Coach not a nutritionist/physio/mechanic”
This blog is no exception as this time I am prefacing my musings on how to protect yourself this winter by openly stating “I am not a Doctor BUT some of these tips should help you keep illness free the winter months”
- Dress for the occasion
A quick check of your favourite weather app the day before a scheduled outdoor workout will let you know what nature will bring tomorrow. So assuming it is not dangerous to go outside – make sure you have good winter/rain/wind gear in the first place and have it ready for the next morning. Worth noting that firstly, many thin layers are better than a single heavy one – as numerous layers traps air and allows it to act as natural insulation and secondly, your head/hands/feet are where you will feel the cold the most – so invest in good gloves/shoe covers and beanie etc
- Indoors is the new outdoors
There will be some days where it is just too dangerous to venture outside e.g. high winds, snow and/or ice on the ground. In these situations do NOT play the hero card and brave the elements – you run the risk of coming of having a bad spill and breaking something. Simply not worth it.
A simple rule of thumb that works for me is if I see the windscreen of my car frosted over – I scrap my outdoor cycle in favour for an indoor session but you guys will know your own weather signs/personal limiters – listen to them!
In these scenarios – look at alternative indoor options such as your using your own turbo/smart trainer, treadmill or even a simple strength and conditioning session. All of will go some way to banish the “inner voices” that are trying to convince you that you will lose 3 months of fitness over one missed bike session.
Spoiler alert: you don’t lose fitness that fast!
- Eat well
Even though I eat fairly well during the year – I make a concerted effort during the winter months to load up on fresh fruit/vegetables to give my immune system the best kick up the a$$ it can get.
For me this is as simple as taking on board lots of vitamin C – ideally via grapefruit and oranges or worst case via juices/smoothies.
Other foods/beverages noted to be good for immune system boosting properties include Brocolli, garlic, ginger, natural yogurt, green tea and almonds
Again not a winter specific best practice but does become slightly more important in the sense that if you do not rest/recover properly during the colder months of the year – you are giving the viruses a better chance to take hold.
Respect your rest days and recovery cycles!
- Monitor/listen to the body
Even with the best precautions– there is the still the risk of germs getting the upper hand. In this case – best to catch this early and take an extra couple of days rest.
For me, I monitor my resting HR every morning and if I see any spikes from my average combined with the sniffles/sore throat etc – whatever sessions were in the plan are cancelled until I am feeling 100%
So whatever way you monitor your wellness (Resting HR, ATL, motivation levels or general sniffles or something else) the key point for me is to pay heed to these early warning signals. It is a much better outcome to “lose” a day of two of scheduled training by resting rather than being forced into 2 weeks off from a full blown chest infection (yes … this is a painful experience sharing moment for me)
Yes winter is a scary time for us triathlete folk with the constant fear that every germ is hell bent on derailing our pre season training. The good news is it need not be – with a little common sense we can lose the minimal amount of quality of training without having to lock ourselves in a protective bubble.
So dress appropriately, choose where/when to train carefully, eat/sleep well and listen to our body’s tell tale signs and we should survive the worst that Jack Frost can throw at us
Cup of green tea anyone?
Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 15 years of endurance racing including numerous IRONMAN finishes and world championship qualifications
Realising this fact, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full time coaching. Steven is now Ironman U, ITU and Training Peaks level 2 certified and in 2017, was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year.
Browse his pre-built training plans by clicking here or if you have triathlon queries you can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org