Winter training is one of my toughest challenges. Riding my bike outside is engaging and fun. Riding indoors can get boring and monotonous.
Nonetheless, as a competitive cyclist, the off-season plays a crucial role in establishing a fitness base that will carry me through months of racing ahead. In fact, I train more hours in the winter months than I do in the summertime, when my riding is really a cycle of race preparation, rest and recovery in anticipation of my next event. With that in mind, you’ll often find me pedaling away on a bike trainer in my kitchen, with a lake of sweat underneath me and Netflix streaming on my laptop.
Here are some of my best fixes should you find your own motivation to exercise waning a bit when the cold settles in:
1. Invest in winter gear.
I would always prefer to be outside, and cold weather doesn’t have to keep me from riding my bike or going for a run. Different people have different levels of comfort in varying temperatures and conditions, but I find that I am generally comfortable taking exercise outdoors in temperatures well below freezing. The key is to dress accordingly, so as to remain warm and dry. A good base layer will fit snugly and wick moisture from the skin, while a mid-layer will be a bit looser and help to further insulate. An outer layer will provide additional warmth and help block wind, while allowing moisture to escape. Once your core is covered, focus on your extremities. Freezing fingers and toes can quickly lead to misery. Wear a hat, mittens or gloves, socks and shoes or boots that match your activity and weather conditions. Make sure these items, too, are made from wind-blocking fabrics, and slip some air-activated warmers into your shoes or gloves, if you like.
2. Diversify your activity.
You can torch a ton of calories by simply running in the snow. It’s a fast, inexpensive exercise that you can easily accomplish before you get too cold. If you’re not a runner, there are plenty of other cold weather activities that afford a great winter workout. It’s easy to find cross country or skate ski and snowshoe rentals, all of which can be done in a local park or on any number of Colorado trails.
3. Set a goal.
Find something specific and reasonable you wish to attain. Maybe you are training for a race in March, or perhaps you wish to complete an exercise you have never been able to do. Maybe you have a certain number of pounds you wish to lose by a certain date. It’s easier to remain active when you are working toward an objective. By setting a goal, you make yourself accountable for fitting exercise in to your daily routine. On those mornings when I absolutely do not want to spend another hour inside, doing sprint intervals on my bike, I think about my competitors. I know that somewhere, they are making it happen, and that when we all line up to race in February, I will wish I had worked harder when the snow was falling outside.
4. Just give ten minutes.
I once had a coach who told me to promise him that, no matter how badly I wanted to skip a day of training, I would put in ten minutes before deciding to call it quits. Usually, making it out the door is the hardest part of exercising. He knew that if I gave it a good effort for just ten minutes, I would be hooked for the full duration of my workout. Sometimes, I head out for ten and I really do feel wrecked afterward, in which case I know I should pack it in and try again tomorrow. More often than not, however, I put in a few minutes, feel great and decide to keep going.
Professional cyclist racing with Team Novo Nordisk, Becky is a mom of two and active proponent of better nutrition in schools who lives with her family in Longmont, Colo.