Winter is upon us. Staying in bed and eating delicious treats and drinking hot chocolate are always tempting during winter, especially if the alternative is to get up early and train in the dark and cold. If you plan your training, nutrition, and equipment correctly though, you can make it more bearable and rather use the Winter season to your advantage.
Training – outdoors
Most of us only have time to train early in the morning and in winter, the dark, cold and rain can most certainly put a damper on this. If you are a hardcore, outdoor junkie, then get yourself some appropriate winter gear. The head and chest are important areas to keep dry and warm if you don’t want to end up with flu. Always cover your head with something, such as a hat or Do-it-now buff . A pair of good winter gloves and a buff around your mouth and ears are also essentials. Your eyes need protection too, so a pair of glasses (e.g. adidas) with clear lenses, is another ‘must have’ item.
Wear warm under layers and a good, wind resistant jammer over your shirt to keep your chest protected. Arm warmers are also a good investment and you can remove them if you get too warm. Remember, when it rains, the above mentioned will not be enough and you will need a water resistant jacket (not the same as wind resistant).
Your core temperature should stay warm and if your head gets wet, you will start having problems, especially in a race where there is no option to stop. A buff or head cover will get drenched and this cases even more temperature drop as the wind on a wet fabric, causes a cooling down effect.
A very good tip….maybe not the best for the vain at heart, is an old fashion shower cap. You can put this over your helmet or even under if you don’t want to be seen like this. I think it will look quite retro with some nice floral pattern ones. 😉
Water resistant booties over your shoes are also a good thing and again, you get ones that will keep your feet war, but not dry in rain. Just be careful that when you are racing and having to go through water (mtb races), a over bootie will be worse than good as it gets soggy and wet and heavy. Rather grit your teeth and get to the finish line faster.
When the weather is good and you are out training for longer periods over the weekends, don’t forget the sunblock. Just because you cannot see the sun doesn’t mean you are not exposed to the harmful rays. BreakAway Rides coaches and athletes use SolrX sun protection. (You can order from BreakAway Rides) I also recommend using a good moisturiser against cold, dry and thin Winter air.
Other essentials are high-quality lights (it’s always good to see and be seen. ), a stun gun or pepper spray (don’t be a ‘running’ duck). A good multi-vitamin that contains extra Vitamin C and Zinc. This immune booster is a must to sort out those bugs that are lurking and looking for potential victims to infect.
Training – indoors
If you battle to train outdoors when conditions are awful, then join a gym where you can do some spinning classes, cross training, swimming, and gymming – all essential for improving your overall cycling performance and health. Spinning keeps your muscle memory for cycling and is very good to build leg speed and leg strength. Just don’t make the mistake to go hard more than 3 times a week. Do some easy spinning on the gym bike on your own on alternative days. Cross training is good for mental motivation and will help you feel ready to tackle your bike again when spring arrives. Swimming is a great cardiovascular workout and builds core strength. What’s important here is that you maintain a certain level of fitness so that you don’t have to start all over when Summer arrives.
We seldom have the time to do strengthening and core exercises in summer.. Winter is the the ideal time to improve these areas and you’ll be surprised by how much it helps when you start riding again.
When it’s cold, I know how difficult it is to eat healthy foods. A fruit doesn’t always sound that inviting when there are pancakes and hot chocolate. Try to choose healthy soup options and healthy bredies. (you don’t need to use oils and spices full of preservatives, but rather fresh chilli, garlic and curry). Chillie is natures own anti-depressant and it will warm up your body temperature as well.
There are always the Passion4Wholeness range of products with a hot moats porridge which contains nuts and cranberries, cinnamon and coconut for added nutrition. For a chocolaty treat, mix yoghurt with the Passion4 Wholeness cacao, banting friendly meal full of nuts, chia seed and real cacao. Check out the website for more: www.passion4wholeness.co.za
Coffee and tea, especially Rooibos espresso or other tasty, warm and healthy drinks will help against the cravings. Beware of “health” drinks like chai (the powdered ones are full of sugar and trans fat)…rather make your own.
Homemade chai recipe:
- 250ml hot water or hot milk
- Boil on the stove and add 2 cinnamon sticks, a glove, grated ginger and a pinch of honey. Let it simmer for 15 minutes and enjoy.
- Boil water on the stove and add 2 tablespoons of lemon, 1 tbsp of ginger, a pinch of honey. Let this infuse for a while and pour through a sieve. You can add some rooibos leaves to this as well.
For breakfast, you can cook some of Passion4Wholeness’ “Oats with a Twist”..this is a health enhanced oats porridge with cinnamon, nuts, linseed and cranberries.
- Blanche onions, garlic and chilli in a pot until all the liquid is reduced. Add a little soya sauce and balsamic glaze and caramelized. Stir in your choice of protein (lean beef, chicken or tofu if you are vegetarian). Brown and then add your favourite vegetables and either chickpeas, lentils or butter beans. Add some water and cook until all the veggies are soft. Add salt and some plain yoghurt or amazi just before serving.
- (leave out the starchy veg, like potatoes or pumpkin if you are trying to lose weight.
- 1 packet of lean bacon chopped up
- 1 packet of brown mushrooms.
- Cook in a little soya sauce, balsamic glaze and some roasted garlic (roast this yourself in the oven) and water until dry.
- Add plain yoghurt or Amazi (250ml ) and 250ml milk and stir.
- Add a whole head of broccoli, a bag of spinach and a ring of feta cheese.
- Cook for for 3 minutes
- Put in a blender, add some salt and tabasco sauce
- Blend till smooth and enjoy!!
Water and Vitamins
Drinking enough water is equally difficult, but just as necessary in winter as in summer. A tasty way to overcome this is to drink warm water with a squirt of lemon, honey, and ginger. Not only will it refresh and hydrate, it will also give you some protection against colds.
An indoor trainer is a good investment for those rainy days. But if you prefer the vibe and social interaction of a gym, then spice up your circuit workouts by listening to your favourite songs on your ipod.
Cold, wet days in winter are a great time to sort out your equipment and set-up, so you are ready to go when those first blossoms bloom.
And, lastly, if you can afford a ski holiday, then ignore all the above and go and enjoy!
Yours in health – Hannele
Contact Hannele Steyn for a personal consultation.
c. +27 083 2923 366