Friday, 25 May 2018

Wild Weather

Well the forecasts have all turned out to be correct, the weather over the last 18 hours or so has been at the rather extreme end of the spectrum, extreme for Perth anyway. Wet and Windy is probably how I would describe it.

Fair to say that coaching at this time of year is not without challenges. Nothing quite like standing on a pool deck in the driving rain to make you question your life choices. After I finished coaching at the pool this morning it was actually a relief to jump in the pool and warm up. At least the rain meant that I didn't get any wetter when I jumped in. 

Coaching at the track last night we just happened to be extremely lucky. It was a little surreal being at the track, watching the lightning crackle all around us and hearing the thunder rumble, but us remain dry. We were waiting to be soaked at any minute, but thankfully it held up until just after the cool down. Nailed it.

Still, as bad as coaching in the rain can be, generally training in the rain is worse. At least while you are coaching you can wear a big jacket and use umbrellas. When you are out riding or running in the rain there isn't much you can do other than suck it up.

Training at this time of year can certainly present a number of challenges, however, just because the weather is wild, it doesn't meant that people have to automatically become couch potatoes. There are a number of things that can be done to minimise the misery of training in Winter.

The most obvious one is to simply train indoors. With the advent of smart trainers and things like Zwift, training indoors has never been more accessible or enjoyable. Training indoors means you stay dry, warm and also safe. When used properly tools like indoor trainers and treadmills can also provide useful benefits that are hard to replicate outside, precise output control, uninterrupted sessions, temperature regulation etc.

If training indoors isn't viable or attractive then another option is to make sure appropriate clothing is worn. How does the saying go, there is no bad weather, just wrong clothing. While being out in the rain is always a bit miserable, wearing the right clothes can make it a lot more pleasant. It is possible ride or run in the rain and still be largely warm and dry. Rain jackets, riding booties, full finger gloves, this list of wet and cold weather clothing is a long one. The issue of safety is still relevant, but at least you don't have to be uncomfortable and miserable at the same time.

A third option for staying a bit more comfortable in winter is cross training. There are numerous activities that are a bit more pleasant to than going out running in wet weather (most of them are indoors) and so in the winter months these can be done instead of the normal triathlon training. Most triathletes are loathe to step outside their standard swim, bike, run routine, however, doing something a bit different over winter can help maintain fitness while giving you a mental break and building broader non-specific strength that can serve you will during the race season. I would usually still do a bit of swim, bike, run, but cross training can mean that these sessions occur less often during a week making it easier to dodge bad weather.

A final option for today with regard to bad weather is simply being a bit flexible with your training program. For triathlon Winter is the off-season and so the criticality of specific sessions reduces. This shouldn't be an excuse to skip sessions all together, but if the weather is horrible today and pleasant tomorrow, perhaps use today for an indoor ride and tomorrow for a run. If you want to run and it is looking wet, perhaps go and run some trails, which are often more fun in the wet than in the dry. if being flexible is the difference between getting a session done or missing it all together then it is okay to be a bit creative with where you fit the sessions in. In Winter, just like Summer, consistency is key.

Winter can be a great time to work on the base, focus on technique and set up for a successful Summer racing program. Training in Winter isn't always fun, but it also doesn't have to be miserable if it is approached in the right way and with the right attitude.

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