Winter Training Tips

(By: Jeremy Rae)

Here are some guidelines that helps me get through the several months of Onterrible winter. Ontario Cycling schedules almost all of their road races in April-June. This means that if you’re not on top of things during the winter, you won’t be ready to go when it matters.

  1. Reverse Base Training Plan: Since my weekly hours during the winter are lower than the summer, a higher percentage of my indoor riding is quality work. If I’m doing a 90 minute trainer ride, half of it might be hard riding. When the weather starts to get better, total hours will creep up (as will amount of time spent sitting at coffee shops), but the amount of quality remains similar.
  2. Get Outdoors When you Can, Be Smart When You Can’t: Everyone loves a good hard man who refuses to ride the trainer, but the reality is that it’s really difficult to do any quality work outdoors when it’s cold (for me, threshold for quality is around 5c). For this reason, during the winter, I keep quality for the trainer, and when possible, get long/easy rides done outdoors.
  3. Limit Zwift Racing: Virtual racing is undoubtedly something that can make indoor training fun and engaging, but too much of it can be a bad thing. In my opinion, there’s only so many times a year people can put themselves into the “racing headspace” required to perform at your best, and too much virtual racing will hinder that capacity. For this reason, I set a weekly limit of Zwift races that I’ll do.
  4. Don’t Fret the “Results”: On the topic of Zwift, it’s easy to get caught up in how good people seem to be online. Just remember that it’s a video game, and that your success here is very different from real life. At the end of the day, if they push you to power numbers that you otherwise wouldn’t have done, call it a success.
  5. Work Your Weaknesses: Every week I jot down some specific things to work on, and they’re mostly things I’ve identified as weaknesses. Do you consider sprinting, being aero, 60-minute power, proper fuelling, or pedalling efficiency to be a weakness? Take this time to work on it.
  6. Equipment Checks: This one is for the nerds and tinkerers. I use the indoor season to compare outputs from my different power meters, and make sure they’re well calibrated. I also use the indoor season to play with my position on the bike, and see if there’s anything that can be made more comfortable, while not sacrificing my position. If your power meter gives you a L/R balance, or efficiency %, I check those before and after the fit change to see if they’ve made a difference.
  7. Cross-Training is Your Friend: Am I guilty of not giving kudos to cyclist friends who post runs or XC-skiing on Strava? Absolutely. However, they’re definitely onto something regarding training strategies. Stop being a cyclist-snob and try a run or two yourself. You’ll benefit from it, or worst case, even like it.

This blog post is brought to you by Morning Glory Cycling Club. They're the biggest cycling club in Toronto, and offer rides catering from beginners to elites, every day of the week. Find us on the "A" rides, or join us for the skills sessions that we host in High Park and the Bridle Path.