Now that we've entered the long, dull, cold, and dark winter months, our training can also start to feel long and tedious. But there's good news! There are many techniques to "spice up your workouts."
As a coach, I get excited when an athlete comes to me and wants to learn something new – whether it's a new skill or a new competitive endurance technique. The athlete will expand their endurance knowledge…and because I love researching the living daylight out of everything – I'm bound to learn something new, too!
Over the years I've spent coaching, four winter training "changes" have proven to be the most effective for my athletes – and sometimes, the most fun!
1. Learn a Different Technique
After finishing a successful season, one athlete came to me and wanted to learn a new swim stroke – Butterfly! He had a goal of wanting to compete in the IM Medley in the Endeavour Games in 2023.
Each week, he works with a swim instructor to help him learn and master the butterfly stroke. I schedule time into his training routine for this new skill, and he is IMPROVING.
2. Try a New Sport
The same athlete informed me that he signed up for a "Learn Adaptive Scuba"! While Scuba isn't necessarily an endurance event, many aspects learned in Scuba can be used in endurance sports. For example, mental strength, using your body in a different environment effectively, maintaining movement throughout your time, and controlled breathing are all benefits an endurance athlete can learn from Scuba.
Another non-endurance but relative to training sport for the winter is Pickleball. This can develop lateral movement and communication. There are so many options to try.
3. Get Competitive in a New Way
If you're someone who loves the "thrill of the hunt" and are bored with the lack of racing in the "off" months, perhaps it's time to get competitive… in a new way. Try Snowshoe Racing, Cross Country ski racing, Fat Bike racing, even training for a long-distance swim event!
4. Try a Training "Block"
For those athletes with a specific "A" race (the primary race you are training for this coming season), is there a particular area of training you need to improve in order to achieve your goals? Talk to your coach or a knowledgeable friend, and take three or four weeks to focus on that particular area.
This is called a training block. For example, if you want to improve your run speed and strength, consider increasing your run workouts for a couple of weeks.
Dredging through the winter months can be a long, arduous process…but it can actually be an exciting time in your training plan. How do you "spice up" the winter months?
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 sport and beyond! Coach Becky can be reached at email@example.com.