It’s often hard to get motivated to train during the winter when it’s cold and dark outside, and your next race is months away. However, it can be fun with a little extra effort. Here are my tips for making the most of winter training.
Winter is a good time to work on your swimming since that is something you can do indoors. I recommend swimming with a local masters group, especially if you aren’t feeling super motivated. Training with a group is so much more fun than always swimming on your own. There are usually a variety of different workouts, coaches are available to help with technique, and training partners push you to work harder. Also, for a change of pace try signing up to compete in a masters swim meet. There are usually a couple of meets in Cary or Greensboro that are open to US Masters swimmers. Here are some local swim clubs that have masters groups:
- YOTA Swim Team: masters locations in both Cary and Raleigh M-F 6:30-7:30 am. For more information: www.yotaswimteam.com
- RSA: Raleigh practice at 5:15-6:30 am or 11:00-12:15 pm most mornings and Sun 7:30-8:45. For more information: www.swimrsa.org
- Raleigh Area Masters (RAM): Practices in Raleigh M-W-F at 5:30 am or 12:00 pm, T/Th evenings at 6:45 pm, and Sat/Sun at 8:00. For more information: www.swimram.org
- TAC Titans: Practices in Cary 6:00-7:15 M-W-F or 6:30-7:45 T-Th and 11:45-1:00 M-F. For more information: www.tactitans.com
Running can also be a lot of fun in the winter with the right clothes. Living in NC, I normally get by just wearing tights, a tank, and a long sleeve running shirt, along with gloves, hat, etc. This year I went looking for something warmer to wear for winter biking and found a great run jacket that I wear for both running and biking now. I bought the Pearl Izumi Fly Soft Shell run jacket from Inside Out Sports and really love it, not just because it is a pretty turquoise color! When I bought it, I thought it would be too warm for running, but then it got really cold here, and I was so happy I had it! It has great wind protection and warmth, but still has good breathability. I didn’t miss a single run workout during all that cold and snow we had in January. I love running on fresh powdery snow (before it gets icy). I managed to get by OK without Yaktrax so far this year, but I could have used them with the 7” of snow we had a couple weeks ago.
It is a lot harder to get out on the bike when it’s really cold or the roads are icy. However, there are several good options for winter cycling if you are not a fan of spending hours on your bike trainer by yourself. Inside-Out Sports has group trainer rides inside the Cary store every Tuesday at 6:00 pm and cyclecross rides leaving from the store every Thursday at 6:00 pm. Another option is to try a cycle class at your gym. All the Triangle area YMCA locations have new spin bikes with power, and classes are now taught on power based on your FTP.
My last piece of advice is to go ahead and sign up for a spring race. If you have something to focus on during the winter months you will be more motivated to train.
I have done this race a few times in the past, and it has always been competitive and lots of fun. This year was no different, and since it was at the end of September the weather was perfect! The water temperature was also cooler, so it was wetsuit legal this year.
My swim went well. I started out behind Bri Gaal, and stayed close to her for part of the swim but fell behind a little by the end. I think I was 5th out of the water, but two of the girls ahead of me on the swim must have had slower transitions because I never saw them on the bike or run. My time was 12:30, which I was happy with.
As I ran into transition and found my spot I saw Bri was already heading out on her bike. I quickly got out of my wetsuit and into my bike gear and headed out on the bike right behind Braden Walsh. Once on the bike Braden and I passed each other back and forth a few times before I was able to put a small gap between us. I rode by myself for a while, and this section of the course was a little slower due to the wind. About half way through the bike I heard a familiar voice as one of my teammates, Sara Larson, caught up to me. I was happy to have someone to pace with again and we finished the bike together. Time 49:48, not my best time on the course but still pretty good.
I made good time in T2 and started on the run just ahead of Sara. Unfortunately, Sara is a faster runner than me, so she quickly passed me and put some distance between us. Since the run was out and back I could see that Bri was the only one ahead of Sara and me. I also knew Braden and Millie Barrett were not far behind, so I could not let up on the run. I was happy to be running OK after a pretty bad ankle sprain a few weeks before the race. I managed to hold off the girls behind me to finish in third place overall. Run time 22:56, and total 1:26.50. After the race I enjoyed hanging out with my fellow TMS-IOS teammates and other tri friends while we waited for awards. This year FS Series gave cash prizes in addition to the prized belt buckles, so that was a good way to finish off the last race of the series!
Swim (57:20, 10th AG)
Bike (5:58:45, 7th AG)
Run (5:01:23, 7th AG)
It was a beautiful morning, a little chilly and fairly low humidity which would be great for the run. Last year it was pretty hot and humid and there is no shade on the run course. Maybe this year I would have a better run and have a chance to win the coveted belt buckle. There are several other fast girls racing this year so I will have to have a great race to win.
Swim – The course is a triangular shaped course starting in the water. The water was still pretty warm, so no wetsuit, but I decided to wear my Huub swim skin to see if I could shave some time off my swim. I felt pretty good on the swim and came out of the water a few seconds behind Bri Gaal with Erin McGowan already out of transition on her bike. 40 secs faster than last year, yay!
T1: focused on being fast so I could leave on the bike with Bri. It’s so much more fun when you have someone to race with on the bike course. Other than fumbling a bit trying to buckle my helmet I was out pretty fast…so I thought until I got to the bike mount line and looked down to see I had forgotten to pull my swim skin off from my waist. I can’t believe I did that AGAIN! It’s funny how I never made mistakes like that in my first few years of racing, only after racing for 9 years. I really need to remember to practice my transitions before my next race.
T1.5: Ran back to my spot in transition and racked my bike so I could take off the swim skin and then headed back out of transition. Another 46 secs. So much for the 40 secs I saved on the swim!
Bike: Thanks to my transition snafu at least one girl passed me in transition, and two were already ahead of me, so I would need a strong bike. Passed one girl right away and then Erin about half way through the bike. I was pretty sure I was in 2nd place behind Bri, but she was too far ahead to see. Felt pretty good on the bike but didn’t really have any one to pace with so had to keep reminding myself to push my pace when I found myself losing focus. It’s a nice moderately rolling course with only one big climb at the end.
T2: No issues in transition this time. Still not super-fast.
Run: Thanks to the cooler less humid weather the run was much nicer than last year. The run is a two loop course so you get to see the competition several times during the run. I went out pretty fast but started to slow down a bit on the second lap. Luckily I found myself running with a fast girl who was on her first lap, so I just focused on staying with her until I turned towards the finish. As expected I didn’t come close to catching Bri but no women caught me either, so I was pretty happy with my run and 2nd place overall finish. This is a popular local race so I usually see quite a few people I know which makes it a lot of fun. If you haven’t had the chance to race Battle at Buckhorn, I definitely recommend trying it next year.
I have done this race several times before, and it’s always a lot of fun. This year my twelve-year-old son was racing with my husband and I, so I was nervous but very excited for him. He swims competitively and has recently gotten into cross country as well, so he was feeling pretty confident. The morning of the race the weather was great, no rain and 66 degrees! We stayed in a nice house very near the race site, so we were able to ride over to transition on our bikes. After getting our stuff all set up in transition, we grabbed a seat on the trolley to the swim start which is a couple miles away. The water temperature was 74 degrees, so wetsuit legal (yeah!!). Since I was racing masters open I was in the first wave, so I had to get in right away to warm up once we got our wetsuits on. I only saw one other woman at the start, mostly open men, so I knew I would probably be racing alone. That’s the one thing I don’t like about the open category. A lot of very competitive women prefer to race age group, which makes it less fun for those that do race open. Oh well, I would just have to race the clock and try to stay focused on pushing myself as hard as I could.
The swim went well, no major issues, and my time ended up about 25 secs faster than last year. I still think I can do better, and the top two women were 1-2 minutes faster. On a positive note, my son, who started five minutes after me, did not catch me on the swim, so I was happy!
I have never been very fast at transitions, and once again my time was pretty slow compared to others, with the fastest women at a minute or less. One of these days I will take my husband’s advice and practice my transitions. 🙂
As expected, most of the open men dusted me on the swim, so I started out on the bike by myself. I passed one guy early on, but after that I didn’t really see anyone else on the course. The bike course is basically flat, so pretty fun to see how fast you can go. My time was about 15-30 secs slower than the top women’s times, but about 30 secs faster than last year. So not bad, especially since I didn’t have anyone to push me on the course.
Better than T1 but could still be 15-20 secs faster!
I felt pretty good on the run, and again was by myself for most of it. So I just focused on keeping a fast cadence and a steady pace, especially on the second mile where it is so easy to slow down. I did get to cheer on a few of the open men, Marty Gaal and Dan Young, that were finishing the out and back section as I headed down that way. It was nice to finally see somebody! The run course is also completely flat. After a small out and back section you run a loop that takes you down the main beach road, past a bunch of bars and restaurants in downtown Wrightsville Beach, over two different bridges, and a tree lined sidewalk that leads to the back entrance of the race site and finish line. I was happy with my run time, even though it was about 25 secs slower than last year.
So my overall time was 1:17:16, which I found out later put me in 3rd place overall for the women. The first and second place women started about 20-25 minutes after me and finished a little over a minute faster overall. I knew there were some fast women racing age group, so I did my best to push myself hard. I had fun anyway! And my son ended up placing third in the 15 and under age group with a time of 1:28:05 in his first adult triathlon. Very proud of him!