Ten winter cycle training lessons

Spring seems to have closed in and winter is a distant memory (ish)….which is about time. Below is a list of ten lessons learned from my first winter attempting to remain fit and train for the upcoming season.

1) Plan

I have tried to plan my training with long term goals for the first time. This has been successful! In giving me the motivation for continued training and also stopping me from too much intensity. I started the season feeling fit and responding well to high intensity training, better than ever before.

2) Don’t push it

This comes along with planning, but training too hard throughout winter could leave you exhausted and sick. Riding outside in the real cold is especially stressful on the body and can lead a spiral of illness.

3) Cross train

Switching to other sports that don’t get you out on the cold, wet, dark and dangerous roads are great for holding aerobic fitness through the winter.

4) Get on the MTB

I didn’t do that much, but getting out on my mountain bike was fun and somehow getting cold and muddy isn’t a problem when you are on the MTB.

5) Watch for Ice

This is obvious. But, it took not one, but me and my two mates to crash on ice in one ride to decide it was a bad idea to be out on the roads and head home. I came away with a fractured elbow and my friends with some serious road rash.

snow

6) Rest

Sleep lots, I tend to sacrifice on sleep to get a few more hours out of the day…. Bad move.

sleep

7) Eat, get “fat” and be merry

I put on several kilos over the winter and had a merry time doing it! But it dropped off quickly when I started riding and watching my diet. The extra weight will help fend off the cold and dieting through the winter will most likely result in illness and a serious loss of moral…. don’t bother.

8) Clothing

Having the right layers and good gloves (thanks Megan!) and shoe covers is critical for keeping warm and dry on long rides. It’s a fine balance between warmth and having breathable clothing, especially when riding intervals or climbs followed by periods of low effort.

9) Indoor training

This year is the first time I have had an indoor trainer and its would be impossible to train through the winter without it. I can’t sit on it for much more than 1.5 hours but keep entertained with gadgets and TV and music. There was one period where I didn’t go out on the road for 3 weeks due to snow and ice!

10) Enjoy riding

Going out on a long ride on those rare cold crisp sunny days makes one appreciate the British countryside and is very rewarding. Riding for base mileage is a liberating and relaxing pastime compared to the spring max effort interval… savour it.

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