In the northern hemisphere, especially where I live deep in the mountains of Colorado, athletes are currently in the throes of a long and cold winter. During these times, motivation can wane quickly, and you may lack the desire to train. In times like these, I suggest breaking up the monotony with some different forms of endurance training - winter sports! Here are a few suggestions and how they could benefit endurance training…besides being fun!
Snowshoeing is an excellent cardiovascular workout that, unlike running, is low-impact (unless you’re like me and fall a bunch…). This means you can enjoy it without adjusting for ground impact. It is also a great way to strengthen your glutes and calves while working on balance.
A recent study shows that downhill skiing is one of the most popular winter sports worldwide. The study also indicates that regular downhill skiing can help an individual adapt faster to colder temperatures (similar to the other winter sports in this blog). This can be very useful, especially for those participating in early-season triathlons, where they will be swimming in a colder body of water. It also provides a great cardiovascular workout and strengthens some of your peripheral muscles that are often forgotten during in-season training.
If you have a crazy goal to “shred the gnar,” you can rest assured knowing that you’ll be improving your skills simultaneously. Snowboarding can strengthen different muscles than running, biking, or swimming- including your core - while raising your heart rate. You also can improve your balance and coordination because you’ll constantly change and adjust your body position on the terrain. It can also help better proprioception--knowing where your body is in space.
Cross-country skiing is most similar to running but is low-impact. Additionally, you can travel further on cross-country skis than on any other snow sports equipment, so you can mentally feel much more accomplished having completed it. Finally, it uses a large number of muscles throughout the body, making it more effective and more efficient for you than other exercises may be.
All in all, the winter may not be the drudge that some expect it to be - thanks to various winter snow sports!
Coach Becky Piper is a USAT Certified LII Paratriathlon and Triathlon Coach living in Michigan with her husband Sam and her dog named Moose. She is a paratriathlete, and paracyclist, and has plans to try her hand at para- dog sled racing. Her true passion is coaching athletes to reach their best selves - both in endurance sports and beyond! Coach Becky can be reached at email@example.com.