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7 Tips to Maximize Winter Training

Winter... Short, cold days followed by long, colder nights. Not exactly conducive to getting out the door and pounding the pavement, especially when you have to leave a warm bed to set out on that cold run or ride. However, for athletes at all levels, the winter months can be some of the most productive in making progress towards personal bests and competitive goals. Without question, the worst thing one can do is shut down from November to March, as doing nothing will completely erase any and all gains in endurance, strength, and speed that you’ve made throughout the year.

No matter how you choose to stay active during the winter months, there are many things you can do to make it a more enjoyable experience and stay motivated to further your gains.

Warm Up


In spring and summer, sometimes you can get away with hitting the ground running--although it is always advisable to properly warm-up before a workout no matter the time of year. However, when the temperature drops, it’s critically important that you devote time and energy to getting your body warm and your muscles loose before setting out. This will help you improve your training performance, motivate you for the workout ahead and, most importantly, prevent injury from muscle strains or pulls. Whether you take a brief, brisk walk, go through a plyometric routine, or simply stretch, getting your body primed for movement is essential.

Find a Training Buddy


It’s very easy to hit the Snooze button or plop down on the couch after work if you are working out on your own. However, having someone who can hold you accountable to your goals will go a long way towards keeping you motivated when it’s cold outside. You can also introduce an element of friendly competition with a training partner that can push both of you to levels that would be difficult to achieve on your own. So whether it’s a long time friend or someone you meet down at the bike shop, tethering your training to someone else can help ensure both of you meet and exceed your goals.

Dress for the Occasion


There is nothing like changing seasons to justify revisiting your workout wardrobe. Out with the shorts and tank tops and in with the legging, jackets, and earmuffs. To stay warm outside, make sure you have a lightweight, warm jacket that is breathable and, ideally, waterproof. Mittens, gloves, stocking caps, and thicker socks should also be considered if you live in an area that gets truly cold.

Don’t Forget About Recovery


Allowing your body time and space to recover after a winter workout is essential to maintaining fitness and achieving your goals. The extra stress associated with pushing too hard through the cold actually has the potential to make you sick--think colds and sniffles--so programming rest into your schedule is critically important during the winter months. Recovery doesn’t have to be vegging out on the couch though; active recovery workouts like walking, ice skating, and snow skiing can allow you to experience the best of the winter months while keeping your body primed for your next workout.

Train During the Day


Think of this as the reverse of your summer training plan. When the weather is cooler, you want to workout during the warmest part of the day---even if it is still laughably cold. While winter days are definitely shorter, working out during the day will be warmer and offer greater visibility than working out at night.

Hydrate!


Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you still sweat when working out in the cold. Therefore, it is critically important to maintain hydration during your winter workouts. That means consuming a fluid and electrolyte mixture that meets your individual hydration needs. Keep in mind that these needs will vary from workout to workout and season to season, so trial and error--which is made easy with the revolutionary technology behind Stage--is key to finding exactly what you need to keep moving during the winter months.

Cross-Train Indoors


Regardless of what your “primary” sport is, doing the same workout day in and day out is not the best way to achieve your goals. Variety is not only the spice of life, it is absolutely essential to keep your workouts from becoming mind-numbingly tedious. Whether you cross-train in the gym, the pool, the basketball court, or a downhill track, there are countless ways you can stay moving indoors. So make sure you mix it up!

Working out during the winter months doesn’t have to be a drag. By focusing on the tips outlined above, you can make the most of those short, cold days and be primed and ready to take Spring in stride!