Many outdoor athletes that compete in warm weather simply can’t keep up the same type of training when the temperature drops. Whether it be physically impossible or mentally problematic, their training has to change. We asked those athletes how exactly their routine changes and what they do to stay fit through the winter.
“I'm a huge triathlon fan and just completed my first (but not last) Ironman. I always compete in the warmer months. The winter months are a bit more challenging to do long outdoor cycles and runs, but they're the perfect time to get the body in shape,” said Ariane Hundt, a personal trainer and founder of the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp in New York. “During extensive endurance exercise, the body typically loses muscle mass and with that imbalances and loss of strength can occur… adding yoga and foam rolling to the routine ensures I stay flexible and nimble, so that when spring comes and the longer endurance sessions ramp up again, my body can take the required pounding of the pavement, swimming in the pool and my legs can handle the hills I ride.”
Hundt also focuses on strength training and plyometric workouts in the winter.
“As a Minnesotan, dealing with winter isn't optional—you've got to take it on, or you're looking at a long season of hiding indoors and suffering on the treadmill,” said Robyn Reed, a trail, snowshoe and ultramarathon runner. “My sport of choice is trail running, and it's a year-round activity. Winter trail running is a special experience. It's a chance to enjoy solitude and silence on the trails, a time when the winter animals venture out and are easy to spot, and an opportunity to turn off the stopwatch, stop measuring the miles and run by effort and the sound of your own breathing. Winter running lets you master the weather, instead of fearing it. And when spring rolls around and the trails are clear, it leaves you more powerful and confident in your stride than you were in November.”
“As a runner myself, I run primarily in the spring, summer and fall. My favorite season to run in is summer—I'm a rare breed but I prefer hot, humid weather to cold when it's necessary to pile on layers, yaktraks, and mittens/gloves,” said Rachel Frutkin, an RRCA certified running coach, marathoner and blogger. “As such, I do run outdoors in the winter but not nearly as much. During the winter I focus a lot on treadmill running, cycling on an indoor bike trainer, yoga, and strength training. I do these activities year-round but most of my cross training on bike happens in the winter. I find these activities keep me focused, keep my fitness level up, and create an easy transition back into outdoor running when the weather breaks in the spring. I haven't lost any fitness and I'm able to get back to mileage fairly quickly.”
“My husband and I live in New Hampshire. We bike in the warmer part of the year [and] we find winter to have a plethora, of options for staying fit,” said Terri Crowe, an amateur triathlete and cyclist. “Cross-country skiing is one of our favorites and most experts will tell you that [adding] another sport will only enhance your main sport… This winter we are cross-country skiing into a cabin in Baxter State Park in Maine. We ski in with a pulk we pull behind us that has all our supplies, it will take us most of the day to get there. From the cabin we will take ski and hike day trips.”
“I'm a triathlete (amateur not professional) and competed in my first Ironman distance this year. I have completed numerous half iron and other distances. I spend A LOT of time on my bike in the spring and summer training but since I live in Chicago, it is very hard to keep that up when the weather turns nasty and the days get really short,” said Sidney Slover, president and co-founder of LearnItLive.com. “[I put] More focus on weight training (crossfit, circuit training, etc.). I still get some indoor cycling in, but a 45-minute workout can't compare to a 60-mile outdoor ride. Also, I try and maintain my swimming as much as possible. I’m scheduled to compete in another ironman next year, so keeping fitness level through the winter is really important, otherwise I'll have to start from square one.”
“I’m a 53 year old Masters All-American sprinter who lives in Colorado without access to an indoor track for training,” said Steven Sashen, CEO of Xero Shoes. “My training partners and I each wear a silicone bracelet with a phrase that sums up our approach to winter: Harden the F* Up! We’ve been known to shovel a 100-meter path on the track so we could train in freezing temperatures. Sometimes, shoveling IS our workout (and then we come back the next day to run). I’m not saying we like it that way, but we do what we have to.”
“I exercise year around and particularly enjoy snowshoeing and hiking during the winter and spring months… in the wonderful Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City,” said Michael T. Boman, an avid trekker and clinical social worker. “I hike, backpack or snowshoe once or twice a week throughout the year. I hike for elevation and try to get above 10,000 (or 11,000!) feet in the late spring, summer and fall months and above 8,000 to 9,000 feet in the winter.”
You don’t need a gym membership or even a single piece of equipment to get a great workout in any season. Bodyweight workouts can be done anywhere (even at home) and they’re customizable. This convenience paired with results is why many athletes rely on bodyweight training through winter.