Wet, Cold, Windy, Dark and Motivated

Who thought El Nino training would be such fun?!

If you are having trouble getting, or staying, motivated to train here in San Diego through these recent, relatively harsh conditions, you are certainly not alone.  If you’re one of my athletes, you know that when you log a completed workout, it turns from red to green on my Coaching screen.  Let’s just say, I’ve seen a lot of red in the last 7-10 days!

Training in these cold, and borderline miserable, conditions is more challenging than normal.  So, what can you do to maintain some degree of consistency and progress?  Well first off, get better acquainted with your trainer (or get one if you don’t have one yet).  Get used to the idea that running on a treadmill, though seemingly the domain of lab mice, can actually be a good (not great) substitute for outdoor runs.  Lastly, you can get access to an indoor pool if you do not like to do pool workouts in the rain.  I personally love swimming in the rain (you’re already wet!).  It’s not often that the pool water is nicer and warmer than the ambient conditions! Some tips for these “weather adjusted” workouts are below.

However, primarily El Nino driven weather presents a mostly mental challenge.  You know you can train if you really have to.  You can if you reeeeally want to..  That’s the Q:  do you want to?   I would advise that it is actually a good opportunity.  Some, but not all, of your competitors will train through this.  They will continue to advance their fitness, on schedule.  Others, the less committed and less motivated, will stay inside and take the “pass.”  They will fall behind, if even so slightly.  Where do you come down?  Do you want to continue to make progress?  Training now, and perhaps all Winter it may appear, through these conditions may give you a chance to start to separate yourself from the competition.  Do you want to take the opportunity?

When training indoors, follow these guidelines to adapt your normal training:

  • Bike workouts on the trainer over 90 min can be reduced (total duration) by 10 – 15%
  • Intervals on the bike – over 6 min – can be reduced by about a min or two; e.g. 12 min in Zone 3 power can be cut to 10-11 min with the same power goal.
  • On the treadmill, on runs over 1 hour, you can (but do not need to) reduce (total duration) by ~5%.
  • On the treadmill, vary the incline frequently; This will change the repetitive stress on your running muscles enough to mimic typical road or even trail conditions.  Start your run with at least a slight incline of 1+ and use that as your default setting.
  • Try to find a treadmill that does not bounce like a trampoline.
  • Vary the pace on the treadmill too, as no one actually maintains a perfect, steady constant pace, even for intervals (over 3 min or so).
  • Don’t rely on HR as much on the trainer nor treadmill, as too many variables impact HR, given the indoor conditions. Rather, go by power (on the trainer), pace/speed (treadmill), RPE, and cadence.

So, good luck training indoors and please see it as an opportunity!

Hey, we also need the rain!


Coach Bill


1 reply
  1. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Well said Coach! Motivation & determination!! This weather is perfect to build mental strength unfortunately it’s also “Cold season” for some of us! Green logs will come out soon! ?


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