I have to be honest, until now I have been a bit of a pussy about winter training.
It has not always been this way. When I was growing up my favourite sport was rugby, which has a season running from September to April, inevitably meaning training and matches took place on freezing, dark winter evenings (nothing stops a rugby match). I remember plenty of sessions taking place in the snow, where coaches would berate anyone soft enough to wear tracky bottoms. Maybe it was the camaraderie of a team sport that allows you to ignore any sense of cold, or perhaps the adrenaline of full contact, who knows.
But fast forward a decade or so, and I started triathlon training, centred largely in the last few years around races in September & October which involve most of their preparation over the Summer. As a result I seem to have stopped any outdoor work between around November & February, and I have realised now what a huge mistake this has been.
Due to the fact I have set myself a ridiculous challenge which involves covering over 4000 km during 2014, I have to keep training this year to ensure I hit my target – another 250 km still to go before Christmas. Yes, I can knock it off with some long bike sessions, but I still want there to be variety, and having kept things up since the half marathon I am trying to get in a decent run on a regular basis.
Last week I mentioned I did my own duathlon, but things were somewhat different as it was reasonably warm. But in the last few days winter has properly kicked in, with sub-zero mornings necessitating a full defrosting of the motor, and judging by the scenes from New York worse is still to come.
I decided today was time to man-up, so ignoring the icicles trying to block to door, and leaving behind my water bottle which would no doubt solidify within minutes, I gave it a whirl with a 7 km effort.
As an aside, I was wondering at what point in a triathlete’s career do you reach the point when you will not get out of bed for less than 5 km? I can’t remember, but anything less than this just does not seem worth the effort of getting ready. To be honest it is edging towards 10 km, and I am wondering if I will reach that point before I reach the one where I simply can’t get out of bed…!
I digress. The run turned out to be amazing. My watch told me I hit the first km in just over 4.5 minutes, pretty much unheard of for me, and I found I could just keep going. It must have been the cold air keeping my engine from overheating, as the second km was just over 5 minutes, and the first 5 km in 27.25 – a new PB! Even the last kilometer (entirely uphill) was under 6 minutes, my normal target pace in a race. I did have to add a hat, gloves and long sleeved top, but at least managed to keep to my normal shorts, and to be fair once I got going I could easily have done without the extras.
At around the halfway point I had to get a photo to prove I had done it, and realised I was not too far from a Rocky IV look. Yes, it wasn’t actually snowing, and I was not being chased by guys with binoculars (that I know of) and yes, I need to go a bit more on the facial hair but you get the idea. I will make sure when it does inevitably snow I dust off the grey tracksuit and find some steps to practice on.
Serious faces, separated as birth (by about 30 years). Next year I am definitely going for the full beard.
I have to finish off by saying that whilst I am now converted to cold weather exercise, I am not a fan of training in the rain. I just does not work for me at the moment, but let’s see what happens in the next 12 months…