Winter Running and Biking — Is it Possible?

You have an Ironman, triathlon, or marathon on your race schedule next year? You know that you like to take a break during the winter months. If you are like 90% of exercise hounds that I know, you spend November until February holding your couch down on the floor and gain 15-25 pounds. If this is you, then you are losing one of the best opportunities to make significant gains for your 2011 season. So there are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself now:

  1. Do you want to go into next season ready to reach your top form?
  2. Can you suck it up a little this winter and actually train?

I am betting you are reading this because you want to train over the winter. Regardless of where you live, it is possible. I will write an article later on how to dress effectively to keep yourself warm and skin protected. But for now, let’s talk about the volume that you will want to maintain over the winter to keep some semblance of fitness levels.

To determine your workout load over the winter, you need to know what your goals are for summer 2011. Stay with me here — but try and determine your mileage during your highest load weeks. I would suggest you even guesstimate if you need to. Regardless of what you are training for — marathon, triathlon, Ironman — this schedule can work for you.

Take the mileage and determine 30% to 50% of the total. Let’s say you are planning a marathon and your peak week will be 40 miles. You should maintain a schedule of 12 to 20 miles during the winter. How you break it up will be up to you, but I suggest in that schedule you put one speed workout once every two weeks. I suggest you throw in a longer run each week into that schedule. Take it easy if you want — what you want to do is just keep your legs moving and heart strong.

If you don’t feel fulfilled by this schedule, increase your mileage or spend time cross-training. Me, I spend time skiing, hunting, and enjoying other sports. Winter training is a fantastic opportunity for you to enter next summer ready to roll. The time you invest now will allow you to hit your peak form earlier and — fingers crossed — avoid those injuries that sometimes poke up their ugly heads when you try to do too much too soon.

What are you planning on doing over the winter to train? What percentage of your normal volume are you going to maintain?

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...