The cold is settling in the midwest, and seemingly people are pulling it in for the winter. Completely understandable. But some of us look forward to the cold. Just like the days we put in in the 100º heat in high humidity, the bone-chilling days to come get us smirking just as well.
Admittedly, last year I packed it in for the most part. I did my medium runs twice a week inside and a long run on the weekends outside (sometimes not). But this year, this year, we change that. I think just as much as you need to be tough in the heat, as most of our endurance events take place on warm or hot days, cold training throws another curve ball into the equation.
The hardest part is mental. Either getting up early and never seeing the light on your run. Or getting out after work, again, never seeing the sun. Maybe, you'r one of those lucky people who have a treadmill in your house or apartment. Lucky you. But for all of us skidding by the skin of our teeth to keep up with our gear, we have no choice but to hit the pavement and brave the cold.
A night like last night for me was just such night. I had put in a big swim the day before, as well as about 45 minutes of lifting at home with some random free weights we have in the basement and some body weight work. So, I let myself sleep in (until 5:45), and planned my training for the evening. A brick workout.
Doing a brick workout in the cold plays hard on you mentally twice. First, you have the bike. Getting a good training session on a trainer can be a really tough mental hurdle. You're by yourself, probably with a tv in front of you and a fan blowing in your face. That's it. No pretty scenery to look at, or cars to worry about. Just biking in place and turning the legs over.
The next part is what gets even harder. You've gotten your body temperature up, sweat going. Then you want to do what?! Go out in the 20º weather and run? Yup. So on go the layers, adding in a little pre-sweat is always nice. The shoes are laced up and you're ready to hit it. Here's where you build your igloo. That first bit of cold bites your sweat on your face and down your back. Then it seeps into your legs. This is going to suck. But you're out the door. The mental part is over. Now you just need to find your pace and hit your route.
Make sure you're heading out with plenty of gear. Be sure to layer. Better to have on 3-4 light layers than 1-2 thick layers. Worst come to worst, you can always drop a layer and come back and grab it in your car after you grab some cocoa to warm-up. A night like last night which had upper 20's and a nasty wind, I grabbed my windproof jacket, a long sleeve base layer and a short sleeve layer up top. On the bottom I have a great pair of windproof tights that have a thin lining of fleece. They ventilate well out the back, too. The only problem is with the windproof/waterproof jacket. Once you start to sweat, it holds everything in. There isn't too much ventilation, but that would negate the waterproof abilities of the jacket. So, I just live with a little bit of discomfort and make do.
A good 90min ride and 30min ice brick run, and I'd say I'm good. I don't like doing much longer during the week. Especially when the whiole run is in the dark.