November has come and gone, and now it’s that season where I pile on the following layers before stepping outside, or opening the door to let the dog out:

  • Baselayer
  • Shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Light jacket
  • Heavier jacket
  • Wind shell
  • Maybe a couple more random ones for good measure, just to be sure

These days, I don’t leave the house unless I’m ready for anything and everything!

So here’s the question this time of year: does trying to stay upright on my bike while riding across town count as training?

It’s tough to get out and do any real training this time of year, which is fine, because I don’t have any races for about 4 months, but getting out in inclement weather can be its own reward too. Some of my favorite things about triathlon training in the winter:

Bundling up for cold outdoor rides instead of riding the trainer, simply because it makes hot apple cider taste better than ever afterwards.

The thick layer of ice formed on the inside of the doors by the pool deck, and watching the cold blue-yellow sunrise while swimming laps.

The sheer happiness on my dog’s face when I get the leash out for an early morning run when the wind chill is 20 degrees below zero.

Post-holing through knee-deep snow on the way up Colville Mountain back in my high school days, only to bomb back down as fast as possible with reckless abandon. It doesn’t hurt much when you fall in 3 feet of fresh powder.

Trainer nights, getting to do a hard ride together with teammates of every ability level, and no one getting dropped or having to wait.

When I was in high school, one of my cross country teammates took a photo for his photography class. It was a detailed close-up of the imprint of a running shoe in the snow, the angle of the tread and disturbance of the snow suggesting forward motion. It was titled “Runner’s Sole”, a play on words that, like many others, is both overused and poignant, depending on who you talk to.

So much of who we are as athletes is defined when it is most difficult to keep doing the things we do. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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