Get the most out of your winter training - by Alex Cole
Photo credit: Ian Roman / PYC Youth Week 2017. As Autumn approaches many sailors pack their boats up for the winter, while the hard core sailors review their boats and clothing, gearing up for the cold and often tough months of winter sailing ahead. Here are my top tips to get the most out of your winter training.
Staying Warm This is easier said than done! Often sailors wrap up in cotton based thermals but this is the wrong thing to do as the cotton takes on water and sailors may retire after a single capsize due to the biting cold of their sodden clothing. What you really need are fabrics which repel water such the Rooster Polypro base layers. During the coldest days, it is essential to have a good mid-layer such as the Rooster SuperTherm Longjohn and top. It is important to remember that you lose 30% of your body heat through your head so an Aquafleece Beanie is essential during the winter months. Another helpful tip is to wear an Aquafleece Neck Gaiter as these keep your neck warm and you can roll it up over your face when the January wind is howling down the Solent!
When you get onshore, it’s useful to have another temporary layer – I wear my Pro Aquafleece Rigging Coat which helps keep the rain and cold out and the warmth in. If you need a more detailed explanation of what to wear I would check out the Sail Through Winter blog.Warm Up It is easy to underestimate the effect of cold temperatures on your body; essentially it causes your muscles to contract hard causing tightness, cramps and pulled muscles. For the first few hours you are at real risk of straining a muscle so I would recommend doing a deep stretch of legs and arms and a short warmup run to get the blood flowing throughout your body. After sailing it also important to cool down whether by using a foam roller to go over achy muscles or a light stretch to loosen up your tired and cramped muscles.
Hydration and food Even when the temperature plummets and frost begins to form on the covers, it is still important to stay hydrated as this allows you to maintain concentration and perform better. From years of winter training I have also learnt that it is best to have a flask with pasta or something hot to eat for lunch rather than having sandwiches. However, you also have to think about the practicality of eating your lunch when conditions are windy as it is difficult to eat food from a flask with huge swell around you. For these occasions, it is often easier to have use high energy snacks such as Granola bars.
As all foodbags are at risk of leaking, I would not recommend having any food wrapped in tinfoil or pre-packed sandwiches in cardboard wrappers. Also avoid high energy drinks or chocolate that can leave you with a sugar low. Before you launch, a banana can be helpful as this gives you a slow release of energy or if you need a quick boost just before a race, use a quick release energy shot.Fitness This is important as you need a base level of fitness to sail your boat, and this is really tested if you are sailing in the windier, more turbulent conditions. Make sure that, over the course of the winter, you use your time to go for a run or pop down to your local gym. When the summer eventually arrives you will be really feel the effect of your winter training.
Stay Motivated Finally it is important to stay motivated throughout your training. Set yourself a goal for each training session and strive to achieve that goal. Keep each goal achievable and ensure that you reward yourself– I often buy myself a bowl of cheesy chips after a long and windy training session!
I hope you have enjoyed my top tips for winter training. Merry Christmas and happy new year!