With cold mornings and dark evenings, keeping active at this time of year can be a challenge event for the keenest athlete. However, it is far from impossible to enjoy your sport during the winter and it is a good opportunity to try some new approaches to your training.
For cyclists, icy roads and poor visibility are foremost concerns. For the purists, the indoor trainer calls, but there are even ways to liven up what can be a torturous way of keeping the legs turning over the winter. The key to this is making your indoor riding sociable.
Over the past few years, from my time in Vancouver, my friends and I have held group turbo sessions affectionately known as the “Pain Cave”. It was still hard, you still didn’t go anywhere or see anything, but you could still share the ride, be competitive and spend time with your friends screaming encouragement in your ear. Numerous other coaching groups and local clubs run similar social indoor sessions and the youth riders at the Sulis Scorpions at Odd Down (Bath) have really embraced the idea since it was introduced this winter.
Of course, you can now enjoy a social, competitive ride over the internet; Zwift has led the transformation of turbo training into a global group ride. If “pirate rules” are your thing, then programmes like Zwift are the answer to your indoor riding prayers.
I have also run spin classes in a gym setting for the University of Bath Triathlon Club for many years. As with the indoor groups above, you get the music going and share a social training session. Even though the sessions are hard, coming up with inventive ways to break up the efforts pays dividends; especially when you are working with (and sometimes against) the person next to you.
So the dark and the cold are no longer a reason not to ride. I personally enjoy a session where the social side goes beyond the riding. So having a group where you can chat, encourage and train together in person will always be the only thing that gets me riding indoors consistently through a winter. It also makes sandbagging more difficult when they can look you in the eye.