Pro Tips: Training Through The Winter

By Adam Galuszka
December 31, 2014

Editors note: The winter months can be a tough season for endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere. We feel your pain. Although Boulder has some very good weather in the winter, it can also be COLD. In fact, it is 1 degree F at the time we wrote this! How To: Keep Training Through The Winter. Written by Brendan Brazier. Here are six ways I stay in top shape during the winter months: 1) Take The Time To Cross-Train As endurance athletes, we’d much rather spend time doing LSD (long/slow distances) than pumping iron in a gym, but complementing your endurance workouts with strength cross-training will make you an all-around stronger athlete, and is perfect when it’s cold outside. Weight training is an efficient way to change body composition, avoid injury, build functional muscular strength, and boost your metabolism. I try to perform exercises in a circuit-style session a couple times a week. This is one of my favorite circuits: • 10-20 push-ups (keep your core engaged and shoulders in line with your toes) • 10-15 body weight squats (keep weight on your heels) • 10-15 biceps curls (keep your shoulders and upper back engaged) • 10-15 bench step-ups (alternate legs on each rep) • 10-15 chest presses (with a bar bell or Swiss ball) • 1 minute side plank, left side • 1 minute side plank, right side • 10-15 reverse lunges (step back and keep motion slow and smooth) • 10-15 triceps extensions (keep your shoulders and upper back engaged) Repeat 1-3 times. 2) Don’t Forget Hydration When it’s cold out, our thirst levels may decrease, but hydration is just as important as ever. Hydration is an essential part of cellular regeneration, and an integral part of eating to thrive. Being properly hydrated keeps your blood at the right consistency and volume, allowing for efficient delivery of oxygen to muscles and removal of waste. Hot herbal tea (non-caffeinated) and warm water with lemon are comforting, hydrating beverages during the winter. 3) Eat Warming Foods It’s time for a different type of comfort food. Winter squash stays in season locally during the cold months, and can be a comforting source of vitamin A and C, which will support your immune system. Roast butternut, spaghetti or acorn squash in the oven and enjoy with coconut oil and spices as part of your plant-based meal. If you’re not in the mood for a cold smoothie or shake after a cold workout, consider mixing your favorite protein powder with warm tea or non-dairy milk 4) Embrace Layers The right winter training gear makes all the difference. Invest in sweat-wicking layers that will keep you warm, while moving sweat away from your body. Warm headbands help to keep your ears warm, while preventing overheating. Good gloves should be light and warm, without getting bulky. If it’s often snowy and icy where you live, invest in a pair of ice traction devices to put on your sneakers, such as Yaktrax, or ice cleats. 5) Know Your Limits If it’s -30 degrees with wind chill, it may not be the best idea to go outside for a run. Listen to your body, and know when it’s best to stay inside on the treadmill or cross-train. Consider buying a set of trainers for your bicycle if you’re a cyclist or triathlete. Find ways to mentally engage while moving on stationary equipment, and keep it challenging by incorporating sprints every 5-10 minutes. 6) Find Motivation On days that aren’t too cold, but cold enough, I focus on why I’m training in the first place; No one’s making me do this. I remind myself of what aspects I enjoy about my sport, and what my training goals are, then I remind myself of what I’m grateful for — good health, a sport that I love, and good friends to train with. Sometimes having a visual reminder of your goals (such as a vision board or goal sheet), as well as a training partner or coach to stay accountable to, makes all the difference. Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. He is now a successful performance nutrition consultant, bestselling author of the Thrive book series, formulator of the award-winning line of plant-based Vega nutritional products and creator of Thrive Forward, an online video series designed to inspire and educate about plant-based nutrition. Follow Brendan on Twitter. To purchase Brendan's favorite nutrition products, purchase his Feed box here!