by Sara Bresnick, PT
New England can be a tough place to live for endurance athletes who spend most of their time exercising outside. Winters can seem cold and long, and with winter, comes a lack of daylight. For many endurance athletes, this means moving their workouts inside, whether it be on a bicycle trainer or treadmill. For others, it means less exercise in the winter or different forms of exercise.
Many of my clients or friends in the cycling world tell me that they switch to weight lifting in the winter or other forms of exercise. Others say that they just don’t do much after it gets too cold or too dark in the winter. This is okay, but I tell these people that it will take time to get back into cycling/running shape and that lifting weights or other forms of exercise will not keep you in shape for cycling specific or running specific events.
I tell people to do their best to maintain their endurance fitness over the winter. It is always much tougher to get back in shape after inactivity and weight gain verses getting back in shape after maintaining fitness over the winter. If you typically run or bike 3-4 days per week, try to get in at least 2 days over the winter and mix in some cross training to balance out. Your body will be much happier when spring comes and you want to get back into your routine. Maintaining fitness also minimizes your risk for injury when you increase your training load in the spring.
In summary, it is never good to stop exercise in the winter. Cross training is okay, but you should continue to participate in your endurance exercise a couple days per week to maintain fitness and minimize injury risk come the spring time.
Sara Bresnick is a Physical Therapist at Boston Sports Medicine