Off Season Training

Cross country skier going up a hill
January 30, 2017

D3 Staff



It's that time of year - "OFF SEASON." Fall is turning into winter, and that means we have to adjust our training to agree with Mother Nature - unless you're one of the lucky ones who lives in Nevis or Florida. Hopefully, you can enjoy some different activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding with the kids, and most of these activities are GREAT alternatives to training indoors. Cross-training on skis or snowshoes, or even just a pair of YakTrax, can be not only fun but great strength and cardio work to keep you active in the winter months.

We may not always realize it, but this "off" season can be used to work on some very important things that you don't slow down enough to work on during "race training" season.

Let's look at it this way: In the prime of your race season, would you take three days a week to work on JUST strength? Probably not because, in the short term, that kind of stress on your muscles might affect your leg speed, and you wouldn't have the recovery to work on your speed. But in the long run, strength WILL translate to speed. So, this is the perfect time to work on strength! And I don't mean in the gym or with a weight program. I mean strength within your sports - in this case, particularly biking and running. I don't think that most athletes realize the benefit of the strength you gain training on slow terrain, which in this case might include a snowy trail. Plus, it's just flat out FUN! Some of my most memorable runs have been in knee-deep powder trudging up Bergen Peak or Evergreen Mountain. YES, it is slow, but boy do you feel pretty fast when you actually get on some pavement! You can gain some pretty similar strength WALKING with snowshoes, or uphill backcountry "skinning" (walking uphill with skins on your skis). And if you're adventurous enough, you can carry that snowboard or sled up with you and really enjoy the downhill. Even on the flats, the resistance of the snow can build some great strength. Plus, it's a nice SOFTER surface, which is easier on your joints. Just be careful that you know what the terrain is like and what's appropriate in terms of equipment. Most dirt trails in the winter can be run on with a simple pair of YakTrax on your shoes.

Then there's winter cardio. Two words: Nordic skiing. Talk about a workout for your whole body and a great way to build your cardio. A lot of the strength you can gain on skis will convert nicely to the bike. In addition to the fact that it's challenging, you can enjoy some pretty good speeds and some awesome scenery. Did I mention that there's no impact? This means that it's great for your joints and can turn into a long-term hobby.

Don't count out the time to use the pool to perfect your swimming too. Get involved with a masters program or, better yet, schedule some swim lessons with a local swim coach. Remember, swimming is a perfect active recovery from a killer power workout like a hilly winter run. You can also use it for a great cardio workout. Most triathletes don't seem to love swimming, but this is a great time of year to mix things up and work on those weak spots.

Most importantly, remember to ENJOY this time of year. So get out there because you can.

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