When the worst of winter seems to be behind us, triathletes turn our thoughts to the open road. Although in most locales we won't dream of open water swimming until later in the spring, we can certainly run in cold and snow; and for those who are hard-core or live closer to the equator, cycling can again become something that involves wind in our faces instead of flywheels in our basements.
Are you ready?The primary cold weather training concerns are these:
By "weather" we mean checking and planning ahead. A simple habit is to check the next day's weather prediction before going to bed, so you can plan for an outdoor or indoor workout depending on the situation.In addition, you can make a completely dorky and compulsive spreadsheet to remind yourself which pieces of gear and apparel work best at certain temperatures. If you are into this, check out our article called Need More Nerd.You'll find a handy weather forecast at the top of your training log here at BeginnerTriathlete as well.
The clothes you choose make a huge difference in your comfort and safety out in the cold. Technical fabrics are best because they wick away sweat and keep you from becoming cold and clammy. For more specifics, refer to our article from a sports medicine physician on layering and fabrics.And remember, no matter what you wear, you'll either be freezing for the first 10 minutes or you'll feel great for 10 minutes and then be overheated and feel completely overdressed. Those are the options, unless you have very sophisticated training apparel you can vent, unzip, and adjust as your body heats up.
Minimize the parts of your body being directly buffeted by the elements by trying a balaclava, goggles and gloves. Remember not to wear short socks if it creates a gap at your ankles that is exposed to the wind. Balaclavas are great, but they are even better when they are stretchy enough that you can pull them down under your chin or pull them up to become a hat once you are warmed up.
It's important to stay hydrated in order for you body to regulate its temperature. Keeping your water insulated is a concern in colder weather. Using a Camelbak or other straw-fed hydration system can be problematic if it's below freezing and the straw freezes. Smaller bottles nestled closer to the body often work better and resist freezing. You won't need to carry as many fluids as in the summer, but do keep up the hydration.