The storms last week left 14 inches of snow at my house. Training outdoors can be tough during the winter, but Boulder is pretty lucky with about 300 days of sunshine a year.
Throw in a low humidity level here in Colorado, and once the storm ends, the main arteries usually clear up by the next day. This means people can run or ride their bikes--though you have to be a pretty hardy athlete to do it.
Each Wednesday my running group meets for 60 to 75 minutes. I coach--they run! This week, it was nine degrees out when I left my house. (Another runner mentioned it had "warmed up" to 13 degrees at the track, however.) When I reached the track, it had a foot of snow on it. A bit challenging, so we opted for Plan B.
The group decided to run up to the long, winding roads that lead up to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). I usually like breaking the snow on trails, but an ankle "issue" kept me from wanting to test it.
The road to the NCAR includes three separate hills and finishes with a mile and a half climb up to the Center. Our total was about nine miles (with approximately 5 miles of climbing).
After that, I headed over to the athletic club in town where my sister and I both coach at an outdoor pool. The pool deck was covered in ice, so I got in the hot tub first to get my core temperature up. Then, in just my swimsuit and bare feet, I ran over to the pool and jumped in with the rest of the crew.
There were 24 people there. I swam in a lane with Simon Lessing and his wife. He pummels me when he's in the water with me. Because of the cold temps, most of the swimmers don't like me going off on long jokes or stories. And we don't do any long or extensive stroke work either. Just keep swimming. But we did get in over 4,000 meters.
Following that, I headed upstairs at the club to hop on a bike. I told myself that this coming year I'm going to try to ride more, and so I need to be consistent on the bike in the winter. However, all the spinning bikes were busy so I jumped on the Lifecycle instead. My level of exertion was pretty low after the hard run and swim. I think I felt a light bead of sweat on my forehead, but that's about it!
With the holidays coming up, it can be hard to stick to your training. The number one thing I can advise is: Be consistent. That's kind of become my mantra.
I used to do more "all or nothing" kind of stuff, but have learned that doing even the minimum consistently is significantly better for your overall training. If all else fails, do at least 20 minutes; 40 to 50 minutes would be ideal for people in a crunch. Just try and get out there everyday.
Even if an athlete feels like they ate too much or whatever, once they get out there and elevate their heart rate, they'll get an endorphin boost and everything in "life" seems a bit calmer. If you need to, go hard, then back off, then go hard again.
People often get hung up when they skip a workout and don't have an alternative. If a holiday party causes you to miss your usual 6:30 a.m. run, try to plan a make-up for later that day. You don't need to make a huge commitment or time block, but the benefits of getting that alternative workout in are enormous.
Adhere to your schedule as much as possible. It will give you a way to work off stress and you'll feel a lot less guilty about over indulging.