The days of three-hour bike rides under a warm, cloudless sky are coming to an end. Cold weather has already swept into many towns and the rain, sleet and snow is right behind it—if it's not there already.
The cold and snow can make it nearly impossible to get outside and train. You can bundle up with booties, balaclavas, thermal tights and heavy jackets, but you don't want your cycling workouts to become a chore, and hate your bike by February.
To combat the limitations that winter brings, there are some alternative exercises to bike training. While they don't mimic the exact pedaling motion, they can help maintain fitness without riding.
There's a reason why cross-country skiers have one of the highest V02 max values of all athletes: This sport is hard. It's a great way to train the heart and lungs and maintain leg strength.
Skate skiing is similar to cross-country, but it's more of a skating motion instead of forward and backward. This type uses more legs than arms, so it can be an even better form of skiing for cyclists. Skate skiers also don't need to continually wax their skis, which makes for easier maintenance.
As much as cyclists may hate it, running is beneficial. It's an easy, convenient way to get in a quick cardiovascular workout that is leg dominant. It takes significantly less time to complete a good run workout compared to a bike workout. You can also run after work when the light is starting to fade and it's too dark to ride.
Initially, you should start with a higher frequency of runs and shorter durations. This should help prevent injuries. As your body adapts to the new stress, you can add duration and mix it up with trails and hills.
Hiking is another great activity for winter. Even on cold, snowy days, you can bundle up and head to the trail for a low-intensity cardio workout. When it's too snowy for normal snow boots, try wearing a pair of snowshoes. These are great for active recovery days and help maintain leg strength.