You've maintained a strict training regimen all season and the hard work has paid off—even managing to surprise few friends and co-workers in the process. But the days are getting shorter and the cold weather threatens to throw you off your stellar training record.
The onset of cold weather causes many folks to turn to the gym or throw their bike on an indoor trainer. Gale Bernhardt, the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics for both the men's and women's team, is not one of those people.
Bernhardt, who is an endurance coach and training consultant based in Colorado, believes people can benefit from cold weather training. It can offer a more exciting alternative to the gym, provide a changing landscape, and give folks a much-needed dose of Vitamin D from the sun.
There are a couple of challenges, especially for those who live in areas that get icy.
"You probably can't do any intervals on slick roads," Bernhardt says. "Lower intensity workouts without worrying about speed are best to take outdoors."
"Sometimes in colder regions you need to be careful that you're dressed appropriately in case you get a flat tire or twist an ankle, you need to have a way to take care of yourself."
If you're training in the mountains or an isolated area, be sure to bring along warm clothes and a cell phone.
Besides running or riding carefully, there are a few other safety measures to consider when stepping into the cold for winter training.
For asthmatics, it's best to cover your mouth with a bandana or ski mask in colder temperatures to preheat the air before it goes into your lungs. It also keeps the air moist, which you'll appreciate in dryer climates.
For men, Bernhardt advises using "windfront tights" to guard sensitive areas.