The Cold-Hard Reality

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Every year about this time (for those new to snow) or earlier (for those use to dealing with the cold), the northeast weather throws a big monkey wrench to great on paper programs. I have been in the lovely Tampa area for 6+ years and spent most of my life in Massachusetts and understand why Robert Frost sounds depressing. Snow on the ground changes everything but not as much as one has to believe. Two hurdlers that inspire me during the cold are David Hemery and Renaldo Nehemiah, as they have used a shovel to get workouts done when facility use is not an option. What are we to do when the track becomes a white tundra? What are we to do when we don’t have a track at all as often the track is covered and you can’t shovel at all as the facility staff will not allow it to be damaged (I am not disagreeing but stating the common response)? Some factors to consider:

  1. Fighting The Cold- Don’t. If you want tough athletes realize they will be tough but slow. Toughness comes from accepting things not from misery. Hard workouts can be done indoors. If a cold weather workout needs to be done accept it and stay positive when the the thermostat says negative!
  2. UA Cold Gear Plus Wind Pants- layers of spandex work when you have a layer of cold gear and training pants/windbreaker. Underarmour alone is a nice start but I know if guys are still fooling around with medicine balls during rest periods they are warm. Nothing keeps guys in line more than the cold so playful teams are warm teams. Skullcaps work as they keep the head warm and athletic brands are vital as cotton gets wet. The ears also need protection because that is the first complaint.
  3. Damage Control- Accepting that what you are doing not ideal is the first step, so I should have made this # 1 but who cares. I have found active recovery workouts to be great as not moving is often the first way to get cold. The cold weather is a truth serum to a philosophy as not to many guys will foam roll and activate when the ground has snow. Amazingly, workouts become more effective and intelligent when you can’t just chill during the 2-3 hour block.
  4. Yearly Plan Adjustments-Train outside and Teach inside. Often athletes can’t learn when conditions are a little rough so it’s better to review video and teach inside when it matters. After meets is tough as many athletes are tired from a long day but a few pointers adds up at the end of the year. We tend to run more in the fall to get more foot strikes as we know the winter will bring a decrease in speed and running work. Also our lifting program allows for more strength blocks in the early winter. Unloading the weights in the competitive season when you have low access to facilities spells doom to peaking. Cold weather is like warm weather training camps but in reverse. It’s temping to do more plyos and lifting because you don’t have as many speed and running options but take care of the classic 10% rule. Henk illustrated beautifully when one goes to a warm weather camp everyone wants to do doubles and triples because they finally have great weather and good facilities. Who want’s to rest when you paid all that money to go to as you can rest at home. Don’t start doing megadoses of plyos because you are doing replacement work for lack of speed. Often just a little bit more volume and more frequency helps big time.
  5. Alternate Means- Skipping rope, the trainer, treadmills, and even bike work has to be thrown into the equation. Many times injuries of the past clue us into what can be done based on one’s training program and how they end up fairing when things are not ideal. You have to be creative as giving into the convenient route is a path to failure. Experiment and tune what works and what doesn’t.

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Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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