I’m no expert, I’m not a coach or a pro rider at all, as much as I would love to be! I have however put together my top tips for winter training and some of the ways to stay motivated throughout the shorter days and colder months.
- Turbo Training
When its dark, cold and wet – opt for the turbo trainer. This means that you can maintain winter training levels inside which of course is more practical. The turbo trainer can however be a laborious machine and no one enjoys pounding out endless pointless miles on the turbo trainer. Try to make it more positive by working to either music or training videos to liven things up, you could also organise a group turbo session. Training with others is a good way to stay motivated. It’s also good to have a plan to work to as well and that way you can work to improve certain areas, there is lots of material online about interval training and sessions to run on the turbo.
2. Go to an indoor training class – Watt Biking?
Watt biking is something I’m hearing and reading more and more about. Watt biking is an indoor training session on a bike which measures your power output, pedalling technique and heart rate. With regular sessions you can monitor you’re progress and then put the benefits from winter training to use on the roads and trails come the summer time.
3. Do something different
I’m a road rider primarily, but this winter I’m really looking forward to doing some mountain biking. I can ride a mountain bike throughout winter even when the temperatures drop more and the roads are icy and dangerous. Cross training is good for fitness, and its also good fun to try something new as well. Mountain biking or cyclocross are brilliant but also swimming, running, badminton or anything just to stay active and enjoy what you’re doing.
- Find a training partner and ride with a club
The best thing for me whilst training was to find a training partner who like me wanted to get the miles in, and was happy to ride at a similar pace. I also joined club social rides to be able to ride with different people and go on new routes, and just went on a few adventures. Long miles at a steady pace, riding out to a nice café stop or town. You have good company and plan a nice ride and it’s something to look forward to and something to be proud of when you return too. It’s really important to enjoy what you do.
5. Be organised
Over winter when the days are shorter and its cold and miserable outside I think it’s important to have some sort of organisation. If you’re riding before or after work, have everything ready the night before if you can. My slow cooker is also my best friend in winter as you can have something cooking all day with no need to waste valuable training time. A little pre planning when you have a little more time goes a long way rather than constantly chasing your tail. I sound so organised, I should learn a lot from this point however!
6. Ride to and from work
Commuting is a good way to take advantage of the shorter days if a commute is workable for you. It isn’t possible for everyone, but if it is then take full advantage of that to get the additional miles in. 7. Have a goal for 2016
I think if you have a goal to work towards it really helps you stay motivated. I had a cycling to do list for 2015, and I’m quite proud to have ticked many of those off this year. I’m now putting together some new challenges for 2016 to work towards to try and keep the motivation levels up. Knowing that putting in the winter training is going to benefit me is one of the ways I kept it going through winter when I quite easily could have spent all my spare time in my pyjamas, fleecy socks and fluffy blanket. A tempting thought even now, throw in a hot chocolate and I’m sold.
8. Dress well and have decent lights
Warm layered clothing which is appropriate for the temperature is vital over winter. You don’t want to be too hot, and definitely not too cold. A balance which is very hard to get just right. Lights are equally important, and invest in a good set – buy cheap, buy twice! Make sure they are charged for dusky evenings, riding at dawn and grey afternoons.
9. Rest when you need to
Overtraining is not productive. Everyone is different and I really would advise listening to your body when it needs to rest. If you have a cold or are feeling tired, then rest until you’re feeling on better form. I did make the mistake of riding constantly through colds and I think this just dragged everything out.
10. Join and embrace the strava community
Strava isn’t for everyone and I can understand that, but personally I find it a great tool for motivation for training year round. It’s a great way to keep track of what I’m doing, to keep my mileage up, support, encourage and post lovely stunning photos of the places I have been to 🙂