Rather than spending countless hours on the trainer, many triathletes use the winter as an opportunity to step away from triathlon and engage in a new sport. A temporary change of mindset doesn’t have to mean a loss of triathlon fitness. Experts share five popular winter activities to help triathletes maintain—or even gain—fitness in the off-season.
Snowshoeing is the arctic version of power running. Many of the same muscles are engaged, but with exaggerated form: legs are lifted higher, arms are pumped more and the terrain requires more use of stabilizing muscles.
“Triathletes will benefit from the increase in running thigh and glute power,” says Brad “BadAssador” Canham, an Ironman finisher, avid snowshoe racer and owner of Endurancetribe.com. “During the transition from winter to spring training and racing, snowshoers tend to have a leg up—literally—on the biked-only-on-my-trainer-all-winter crowd.”
This is especially evident in the increased conditioning of the legs’ ability to bring power immediately off the bike. Triathletes who cross-train using snowshoes raise their anaerobic threshold, overall conditioning and sprint capacity on hilly courses and at critical moments.
In general, running on snow tends to be a very forgiving experience, and injuries are uncommon. However, uneven footing due to hardened snow and hidden objects (such as logs, rocks or cracks in the snow pack) can result in a twisted ankle or knee. Canham suggests those new to the sport find a local snowshoe enthusiast or training group (group training runs are quite common in snowshoe circles) to learn about gear, racing snowshoes and training areas.