Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful… aka Off-Season Training

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We’re finally getting some snow around here!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So what’s a triathlete or runner to do when the weather outside has us stuck on the trainer or dreadmill…I mean treadmill?

Well, there’s plenty to do!  The off-season can be a great time to try a new sport or return to a sport you’ve haven’t done in a while because triathlon or running have taken the main stage for a few months.

Not only will you maintain your fitness during the winter months, but you will also get a much needed mental break so that you can return to triathlon fresh and eager for the next race.  So why not give any of these sports a try?

Cross Country Skiing
I have to admit, this is currently my favorite.  And yes, my favorites do change every few years. Maybe next year it’ll be curling… or luging.
Anyway, if you enjoy cross country running, then you’ll definitely enjoy cross country skiing!  It’s a total body workout and you will get a great cardiovascular workout while doing it.  Need proof?  The highest recorded VO2 Max values come from cross country skiers.
The best part about the sport?  Stopping for hot chocolate to recover 🙂

Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding
Remember what I said about my favorites changing?  These used to be my favorites at one time.  I may have to move out to ski country just so I can dedicate one day a week to each winter sport!
So if you’re thinking you might easily glide down the mountain and stop at the lodge for a hot chocolate by the fire, you’re only half right.  Downhill skiing and snowboarding will leave your legs burning!  But similar to cross country skiing, you get to sip hot chocolate by the fire.
My advise, whether you know how to ski or not, is to take lessons.  As a beginner, it’s important you learn the basics of stopping and turning so you can enjoy your day on the slopes (stopping is especially important.  Take it from me…you don’t want to be on a ski lift with someone who does not know how to stop).  If you’re a veteran skier, it’s good to freshen up and learn something new with a yearly lesson.

Ice Skating
What, you never thought of ice skating as a workout?  Those Olympians make it look easy.  Take a lesson to learn the basics of how to turn, skate backwards, and skate on one leg.  Just like with downhill skiing, your legs will burn.

Snowshoeing
If you’re itching to go out for a run but the snow where you live is preventing you from doing that, this is a great alternative.  Keep in mind that it’s not as easy as you might think.  Start with walking to get used to the snow shoes before deciding to run in them.

Strength Training
OK, so you’re thinking this can be done year round and it’s not exactly a winter sport.  But now’s the best time to focus on strength training because you don’t have the added stress of increased mileage or races looming in the near future.  Some of the benefits of strength training include increased efficiency, power, speed, and injury prevention.

Swimming
Yes, I know swimming is part of triathlon and you may do a lot of it other times of the year, but it is a winter sport.  If swimming is you’re weakness, now’s a good time to focus on it.  If you’re a runner, it’s a great way to get a non-impact, total body workout.  It’s also a great alternative if you’re injured.

So, what’s your favorite off-season activity?

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