Winter can be a difficult time to train for Canadians. Freezing temperatures, blizzards and shorter days make outdoor training difficult. I used to compete in cross-country skiing and therefore be excited for snowstorms but now, like most triathletes, I dread the winter days. However, I’ve come to realize that complaining about winter only makes it worse and I’ve started to enjoy training in the snow like I used to back in the day.
There are many activities you can do outside in the winter to get you fit and ready for the racing season. Cross-country skiing is probably the best cross training activity you can do this winter it improves your endurance as well as your strength.
There are two styles: classic and skate. In classic your skis are parallel in tracks and in skate, the movement is similar to ice skating. I personally believe that skating is more demanding than classic skiing. Also, it doesn’t require to use grip waxes, which can take time to apply. So, if you just want to get a quick workout I suggest skate skiing. Back country skiing is also run because you can go ski wherever you want, in the forest or on a frozen lake. The skis are shorter and wider and it allows you to ski in fresh powder and make your own tracks. There’s nothing more exciting than opening the trails after a big snow storm. I really enjoy long back country trainings to build my endurance. Ski mountaineering (skimo) is also a great activity is you live close to big mountains. This sport is really popular in Europe and in the ultra-running community. Ultra-runners like Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Mike Foote, Max king and Rob Krar enjoy this activity because going up mountains builds strength and endurance and going done is fun and thrilling.
I also really enjoy fat biking because it is much more enjoyable than riding on a trainer and it is really fun. I often do my long rides on my fat bike instead of on the trainer and I usually finish the ride completely exhausted. Having the right type of shoe is really important. It is much better to use shoes with clips to allow you to do the same movement as when you ride a regular bike but you need shoes made especially for fat bike riding if you want to be keep all your toes.
Running in the trails, either with or without snowshoes, is another great option, especially running downhills in fresh powder. This is more demanding than running on the road and you will go slower, so don’t look at your pace or at the total distance. If you want to do intervals while running in snowy trails, use a heart rate monitor instead of a gps to know your intensity level.
These are just a few of the outdoor activities that you can do this winter. We can’t forget about winter triathlon as a sport on its own, as well. If you enjoy racing in the winter as a way to stay motivated, there are many winter snow shoe, cross –country skiing, fat bike and winter triathlon races.