If you live in the Midwest, specifically Chicago, you know we are dealing with a beast of a winter. It's no joke. I can honestly say I ran more on the treadmill in January than I have in the past few years combined. We are all dealing with it (the weather isn't different for anyone else here), but it's HOW you deal with it that will determine the fitness you develop in the winter. Complaining, missing workouts, making excuses…this will do nothing for you. Finding a way to embrace winter, get creative with your workouts, and staying dialed in are what it's all about.
Not easy, right? Here's how I'm doing it…
Tri Smart Coaching puts on a really fun event every year called Swim-A-Poolooza. I pick to swim 100x75 which is roughly a 4.26 mile indoor swim. I know what you're thinking…sounds like the worst pool workout EVER. Not going to lie, it's tough. It's physically and mentally exhausting, but I get to do it with a group of my friends so it isn't as bad. Problem is, this year I had a total blonde moment and missed the event. "Lucky" for me, my coach Jen wrote me my own 100x75 to do solo the following Sunday. It even included sets with fly and other stroke work, she's so good to me. I could have dreaded this workout, complain to anyone who would listen, or just not do it. Nope, I CHOSE to get excited about it and actually looked forward to it all week. Seriously.
The foot of snow that I woke up to at 5:30am Sunday morning wasn't even going to stop me. I drove all the way down to FFC Union Station so I would have a full length and quiet pool to swim in…it rocked.
My Salty Yeti always gets me through tough workouts :)
I can't even explain how good this swim felt. Was it hard? Yes. Did it hurt? Yes. Was the pool freezing? YES!! BUT, the mental "win" this type of workout gives me in January is worth all the effort.
My other saving grace this winter…indoor CompuTrainer classes and cycling time trials. Let's start with the indoor CT classes…
FFC is awesome and has an indoor CompuTrainer studio (http://ffc.com/computrainer/). I wish I had discovered this a LONG time ago, it has completely changed how hard I push myself when I ride indoors. So, every Thursday morning I get to see the sun come up in Chicago while I work HARD on my bike. #needtogetfaster
Not a bad view right?
All this hard work I've been putting in at CT class has paid off HUGE at the Indoor Cycling Time Trial Series I'm doing this winter. I tested almost 20 watts above where I did last year at the first time trial in January…oh yeah! Today, just a few weeks later, I tested another 6 watts above that on a downhill course. FINALLY in the 200+ range.
Incredibly painful, from such a pretty little bike.
No way I'm letting the "Polar Vortex" get in the way of chasing my dreams this winter. The more I think about it, it's actually helping. I'm getting stronger with all of my extra swim and bike workouts, and running outside feels amazing after being cooped up on the treadmill for weeks. On top of all that, the mental toughness you need to get through these indoor workouts will serve me well once race season comes along.