Winter has arrived with an icy thud. But bitter cold, biting wind and slippery slopes don’t have to derail your triathlon training regimen.
Still, wintry conditions require some extra precautions and planning to assure a successful workout. Follow these tips to stay safe and have fun while training outdoors during the calendar’s coldest months.
Start with a thin layer of synthetic material, such as polypropylene, to help draw moisture away from the skin. Don’t use cotton for the base layer; it will not wick away the sweat. Next, try a layer of fleece. Finally, wear a windproof, breathable jacket. The number of layers should be dictated by the temperature and wind. To warm the air before it hits the lungs, cover your mouth with a thin mask or scarf.
Hold Onto the Heat
The body reacts to cold by directing heat to the core. That’s a great natural survival mechanism, but it also leaves hands and feet vulnerable to frostbite. Use a thin set of liner gloves under your regular gloves, and take the same approach with your socks. And don’t forget a close-fitting hat. Though research is mixed, it is believed that more than one-third of a person’s body heat dissipates from the head.
Winter means shorter days, which means a smaller window to train in the daylight. Wear reflective clothing if road training takes place in the early morning or evening, when visibility can be tricky.
Every biker should always have two important things in place before a training ride: A helmet on the head and lights on the bike. Winter conditions can also warrant a tire change to better traverse road ruts and debris. Trail shoes or additional grips for running shoes are also a good idea. And always carry a cell phone.
January as in July
Sun protection is important in the winter because of the sun's reflection off the white snow. That means sunscreen to ward off ultraviolet rays. Go for a SPF protection level of at least 30. And remember to protect the eyes and reduce glare with sunglasses or goggles.
Signs of Trouble
Early warnings of frostbitten skin include paleness, numbness or a stinging sensation. Take no chances and seek medical care if these symptoms rise. Hypothermia is a more serious, and potentially fatal, matter. It is medically defined as a body temperature below 35-degrees Celsius or 95-degrees Fahrenheit. If you are unable to touch your thumb to the little finger on the same hand, hypothermia might be setting in. Symptoms include intense shivering, slurred speech, loss of coordination and fatigue. Get help right away if these signs show up.
Know When to Hole Up
When the temperature dips below zero Fahrenheit (about minus 18 degrees Celsius) it’s probably best to move your workouts indoors. Try to avoid ice, too. It’s an enemy that is often seen too late. Slips can cause knee, ankle and back injuries or worse.
Good luck, train smart, and race hard.
Zoom Performance is a professional endurance coaching company working with athletes from beginner triathletes to Ironman World Championship qualifiers. Certified coaches provide customized programs along with metabolic testing, bike fit, one-on-one analysis, clinics, and sports nutrition programs to allow athletes to take it to the next level.