Winter, and the off-season in general, is a great time to work on your weaknesses and develop effective support systems. That means systems that will keep you training during the winter and systems that will support a good baseline fitness that will keep your body working well throughout the season. Let’s take a look at a few important pieces of this puzzle.
Get the right kit
To do winter training right, you will need to have the right equipment or at least some of it. With the outdoors, layering is the best strategy. Leg warmers, arm warmers and a vest are the basic items you will need to ride in colder weather. But you probably already have those as a cycling enthusiast, the optional things that can add a lot of comfort and longevity to your outdoor ride are shoe covers, appropriate gloves, and perhaps a thin scarf. Just remember, if you step outside and you’re already warm, you’re overdressed.
Winter training indoors also has its specifics. It might seem like you can wear pretty much anything since you are in the comfort of your home but that would be a mistake. You will spend a long time in the exact same position indoors so you need the most comfortable kit you have to avoid a saddle sore, rawness or worse. And you might be more motivated if you look good while jumping on your indoor bike setup.
Build up your core muscles
Clothing and proper gear are important to support your winter training but what’s even more important is your core. Your core is what helps you engage your whole body and transfer all your power into the pedals. If your core won’t support you, nothing will. Make sure to have about 2-3 short strength sessions a week during winter to build a strong core for the upcoming season. Planks are a great exercise for this, check out our previous article to see how it’s done properly.
Having a great training plan and all of the gear in place won’t be much help if you lose motivation and stop riding during winter. So, one of the most important support systems you can have is building up a cycling friend group, joining a team or a local community of enthusiasts. You can plan the upcoming season together, get excited about races, and keep each other accountable when the going gets tough and someone stops showing up for rides.
Maintain race weight
The last support system is important to protect you against the common and very annoying weight increase that often happens during the off-season. People often eat about the same but ride less on average compared to the summer and the extra calories can sometimes find their way to the fat stores in the belly. There are a few tricks that can help. Drinking a bit more water and adding a bit more vegetables and quality protein while avoiding your trigger foods is a good start. If you want to learn more about maintaining or losing weight, check out our previous series.
A big part of this last support system is also sleeping. Sleep not only helps you recover from training – it also helps to keep your appetite in check. Lack of sleep increases hunger and decreases the satisfaction you get from foods. So, make sure to get your 8 hours of sleep. If you need a few tips on how to improve sleep, check out our previous series.
With all these support systems in place, you are much more likely to enjoy your winter season and be even fitter than you were last year when the race day arrives.