Cold Hands, Wet Shoes, and Dirty Bikes

Winter is upon us here in Philadelphia now. I was wondering wether it would come this year. Being my third year in the city of brotherly love, after two previous years of record snowfall, and no snow up to the middle of January (save an inch in October) this winter has been an odd one. It has been great for training. Being able to head outside without the extra consideration that ice and snow brings is somewhat of a treat.

Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to a good steady snowfall over the winter season. However, this is not what we are experiencing. With a steady snowfall we can get into a rhythm and embrace winter training activities such as XC Skiing, snow shoeing, and many others. Two inches of snow over the weekend is sure to turn to slush tomorrow when temperatures reach the mid 50's. That creates a cold wet mess that at first blush is not very inviting. Your shoes get wet and muddy, hands are cold as ice, and any bike ride turns your bike into a 30 min project of washing unless you want it to turn into a pile of rust. My bike comes back covered in road grime, ice, and worst road salt that is the enemy of clean shifting.

Then once you get home where does your gear go? My bike gets to go on a landing pad of laid out towels to drip and get cleaned before it begins to get eaten away. Running shoes get stuffed with newspaper and set out to dry over the hot air blowing vents. All of the clothing goes straight to the wash, or the floor by the washing machine at least. Then I get to take a warm shower and rinse the dirt from behind my ears and in my teeth.

That shower though is one of the most rewarding parts. I did my work. The elements may not have made it easy, but I gained a little bit extra by doing battle in the damp cold. There are times when it is just best to embrace the elements and use them for what they are. Maybe you will gain some strength from the experience.

This type of weather may be another blessing in disguise giving you the time to focus on some more time in the pool, technique on the trainer, strength in the gym, or speed work on the treadmill. Training through the wishy washy winter may not be ideal but can be used to great advantage. It is just best to identify what works for you. Sometimes that may mean going out of your comfort zone, or finding a different aspect of your training to focus on.

A key to training is to always keep it fresh. Changes in weather may seem like an inconvenience, but they can sometimes provide the subtle changes that we all need in our training. While we all may not be lucky enough to train in sunny 70 degrees year round, it is easy enough to make the best of your training environment.

Train smart, train hard, and have fun!