Training in the Cold

It was a blustery frigid morning in Tampa Bay Sunday. Well, I am a wimp when it comes to cold weather so a 50 degree morning with sustained 20 MPH winds for a run-ride-run along the Gulf of Mexico comes with some trepidation. Last year I made a concerted effort to train in cold and cold & rain to ensure I was prepared for potentially racing the USAT Duathlon National Championship in cold weather as the year prior it was freezing and not just from a Florida perspective.

I am taking the same mindset heading into my new training block as I have two important races this year that have a good possibility of  being in cold weather. Here I’ll share a few things I’m doing that may help you when you venture out for a ride or run in cold, windy, and rainy conditions. I’ll use my workout yesterday as an example and start from my feet and go up.

I pulled out my cold weather cycling basket Saturday and located toe covers that slip on over cycling shoes (shown in the first picture below). These seem to help a bit as the cycling shoes have a web fabric on the upper to help with ventilation. I usually wear no-show socks for everything but I do have a pair of cycling socks that go up to the ankle bone. I chose these as I wanted to avoid any skin exposed to the wind.

Moving up to the legs. Usually I’m wearing cycling or triathlon shorts. On this day I wore a thin layer of full length tights that did go over the ankle length socks…yay! Over the tights I wore triathlon shorts simply for the need of cushioning my butt on the bike saddle.

Then, the finishing touch. Last year I ordered what they call, cyclocross pants, from the same company that I have other Healthy Giraffe gear. These are so cool. They are thick, warm and tight. They have a full length zipper on each leg that runs from the outside hip to the ankle. This makes it easy to warm-up and shed quickly before a race or workout. I wore them the entire ride. They can be a bit restrictive to run in so I removed them once I finished the ride and headed out for the final run. You can see the zipper action in play via the second picture below.

Moving to the upper body. On this morning I knew I would not need to shed anything I was planning to put on until after the ride so I chose not to wear arm warmers that I could have removed easily and tucked in my pocket at some point on the ride. Instead I wore a thin compression shirt topped with an extra thermal long sleeve shirt and finally my cycling kit. On this day there was zero chance of rain or I would have added a water resistant windbreaker. I think I have an opportunity to find a repellent jacket but I’ve gotten by with what I have currently. Open to suggestions here…

This was certainly a glove worthy morning and with the long sleeves in play I avoided skin being exposed to the wind here as well. I finally slipped on a neck sleeve that I pulled above my ears and to start, my mouth. Breathing into it for the first several miles really promoted heat.

One final touch – last year Coach Celia Dubey told me to try rubbing a balm over my muscles to keep them warm during exercise. The one she recommended and I am now in love with is, Leg Salsa. From their website description, it’s “a protective, extra-hot warming layer for cycling in rain and cold-weather.” One thing I forgot this morning was to not rub in on or near the nipples…ouch. That was a mistake I paid for but overall it helped me be as warm as possible. I was careful everywhere else including putting gloves on when applying so I wouldn’t inadvertently rub my eyes, nose or mouth. It lasted for five hours until I returned home and then carefully showered to remove.

I’m so happy I chose to go out in the cold and extremely windy conditions. Simulating the preparation and effort will certainly help me in competition. Now, I am ready for the temperatures to warm up please…

Finding the right mix of clothing and other sources to keep us warm can lead to tough decisions. Especially as in many cases we begin to warm up early in a workout and  benefit from shedding layers. Practice and experimenting I will continue to do. Let me know what you do as I’m always looking for ways to stay warm without being restricted in movement.

– Add Health to Your Life

*Final picture below – lucky I had my flat tire halfway into the ride so my hands were warmed up to change the punctured tube.

Toe Covers
Cyclocross Pants with full zipper down the side
My final replacement tube…back to the bike shop for more…




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