Winter training - It’s cold and wet; but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
Staying motivated can be tough at this time of year, it’s a lot easier to stay in bed than it is getting 3 hours done - but you feel a lot better once you are out!
For me there are four important things to focus on in order to stay motivated - quality winter kit, fuelling, timekeeping and goal setting.
Kit: If you haven’t already, you NEED to invest in a decent set of winter kit. Nothing extreme, but bits that can keep your bike working and yourself warm down to 0 degrees - no point taking any risks when it gets icy!
A 3 hour ride feels like 5 when you can’t feel your fingers or toes, invest in a solid set of gloves and overshoes, you won’t regret it. I find when it hits 5 degrees legwarmers aren’t enough so I’d definitely recommend bib tights when it’s that cold. Finally, always remember to bring a rain jacket, no matter what the forecast says! Winter is unpredictable and a thin jacket could be a lifesaver if you get cold changing a puncture etc.
There’s nothing worse than getting 15 minutes into a cold ride and puncturing. Make sure you have a durable set of winter tyres on your wheels to prevent this as well as checking for grit in tyres when washing your bike. I know some people disagree but I’d say mudguards are also important, they keep whoever’s behind you happy as well as stopping dirt from getting onto your bottle tops. Lastly, it’s always worth making sure you have a set of charged lights on your bike, it gets dark super early and you never know what can happen.
I find when it gets colder I forget to eat. Try and get a bar (this doesn’t always have to be sport specific) and bottle down you every hour, which probably means stopping off somewhere to refill bottles halfway through a ride. My favourite are SIS GO Energy Apple and Blackcurrant bars - I must go through at least 10 every weekend. If you don’t eat enough you will always struggle in the closing hours of a ride, or even bonk. *For reference, you want at least 30g of carbs every hour, up to 60 if you are doing efforts and/or a longer ride as well.
This is something I’m bad at. Try and get your ride done early in the day, otherwise you’ll never end up getting out. This doesn’t necessarily mean as early as possible, it’s worth checking the forecast in case there’s a time where it isn’t raining or when the wind isn’t so strong. Something less cycling related but just as important is getting a good night’s sleep. You can’t train back to back without recovery, so aim for at least 8 hours sleep every night - otherwise you are bound to get a cold sooner or later.
My final tip for a good winters training is goal setting. It’s helpful to have something to think about when it’s pouring it down and you still have 3 hours left to get finished. Whether that be to complete a sportive, or win a world championships having that thought in the back of your head will help you push through anything.
“It never gets easier, you just get faster” – Greg LeMond
GB Junior Academy