1. There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather, Just Bad Clothing
Cycling during winter is all about layers. You’ll want to be prepared for any weather and layers will allow you to set off in the cold and strip off layers as you warm up on your ride. It’s working out what works best for you and what keeps you warm, everyone is different, but this is what works for me. Start with a warm thin base layer, followed by a jersey and a long sleeve jersey or thicker cycling jacket on top. I wear Liv's Race Day long sleeve jersey to keep me warm. I never leave without a thin waterproof jacket (such as the Delphin rain jacket) in the winter - it’s a must-have! It’s not very enjoyable cycling when soaked through and still having to ride home. Gloves and overshoes are also a must to keep your extremities warm and your shoes sparkly clean and dry. Swap your shaded sunglasses for transparent glasses to protect your eyes. I personally love to wear a cycling cap underneath the helmet to protect my eyes from sunlight or face from getting wet when it rains.
2. Be Prepared
Always check the weather in advance for wind gusts, rain and temperature. This way you can head out earlier or later to avoid rain, take the correct clothing out with you, for instance, waterproofs if it’s due to rain, or even choose to go another day. Plan your cycling route well in advance and check when it’s sunrise and sunset so you don’t get caught off guard. Always take your bike lights out with you just in case.
3. Be Flexible With Your Training Sessions
British weather brings unpredictability, so be prepared to swap your sessions throughout the week, for a more pleasant training session. I personally love to run in the rain so I might swap a run in the rain for a cycle when it’s dry.
4. Focus On Your Weaknesses
The winter is often many people’s ‘off-season’, a chance to focus on technique on the bike, as well as run and swim if you are a triathlete. Focus on skill-based sessions to nail that technique or get rid of any weaknesses, whether it’s to improve your swimming stroke or become a more efficient cyclist to get the most out of every pedal stroke. Doing drills out on your run can help you become a more efficient runner.
5. Strength & Conditioning
S&C sessions can help athletes get stronger, faster and ultimately avoid injury. With it being the off-season and weather not being the most pleasant, winter is the perfect time to focus on S&C indoors. Check out my article on tips for Strength and Conditioning exercises here.
6. Consistency Is Key
Be realistic about the amount of training you can commit to each week. Don’t overload yourself with too much training, it’s better to plan to do a few sessions a week, then if you meet each session slowly adding more in if you can.
7. Train With Friends
It’s harder to get out of the door to train if it’s cold outside. Agreeing to meet with a friend to train gives you accountability making you less likely to cancel or miss that session.
8. Maintain Your Bike
Don’t let mechanical issues get in the way of your riding. Get yourself a full service of your bike so you know you’re going into the winter with a well serviced and working bike. Throughout winter maintain your bike with this guide to servicing your bike at home. Sometimes people also change their tyres to thicker tread to cope with shrapnel and bits on the road. Avoid the buildup of dirt and grime in the brake pads by giving your bike a good old clean when you get home from every ride. Remember to re-oil the chain - wet lubricant is recommended for winter riding.
9. Rest & Recovery
Winter is a time for bugs and illnesses to go around, so keep your immune system strong by allowing for plenty of rest and recovery after big training sessions. The more run down you are, the less your body will cope or battle with any bugs going around.
10. Create A Training Plan/Get A Coach
Another way to add accountability to your training is getting a coach to give you a training plan. They can help you reach your goal whatever it may be and support you through the months when it may be tougher to train. Having someone to ensure you aren’t overtraining or even under training, make recommendations for you to improve and keeping you on track. It’s a great way to discuss how your training is going.
Good luck with your winter training and let us know if you have any more tips that help you train through the winter months.
You can follow Alice on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook or at her blog Alice Clare Fitness.
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