How to keep training in a German winter

You may remember I wrote about having a slow burning desire to compete with (and against) Eva in Triathlon. Well a little over a month ago that slow burning desire had accelerant poured all over it and I have finally gone all in to the sport of Triathlon.

I don’t intend to go all Triathlon on this blog as as this is not but the topic will come up from time to time. While my ultimate goal is to have bragging rights over Eva, in all likelihood there will be many other benefits and we will have a great time with a new shared passion/torture.

Back to Germany. Unlike New Zealand and Australia, there are proper seasons here. While this can and does open up other sporting opportunities of the snow and ice kind, it really can mess with normal sports and training. For the record, winter sports are not normal sports.

I rest my case

I rest my case

I think we take it for granted in New Zealand and Australia we can pretty much do outdoor activities and sport all year round. Yes, in winter it is generally colder and there can be more rainy and windy days. But on the whole, you would struggle to identify a huge difference or restriction on what you want to do, due to the season.

So what do you do? There are a number of options ranging from taking the bear option and hibernating over winter, moving sport inside or just going hard in the snow like Rocky in Russia.

Regardless of the option you take, you will need some equipment to continue your training through winter. Even with the bear option you still have to find yourself a cave.

Winter equipment by sport

Running – Outdoor Body Weight exercises

Along with Triathlon training I also do some outside body weight exercises which pretty much ties in with the equipment I use for running.

You could move these inside by joining a gym but I am loathe to pay and go through the difficult signing up process in German. It is already pretty daunting and confusing in English understanding what you are signing up for. I would literally rather freeze outside than do this.

First up you need some workout clothing. Ideally you want clothes that are thin, light and allow you to move relatively freely but keep you warm too. You also want clothing that is well ventilated so you do not cook from the inside out as you get into your workout proper.

I normally wear shorts when exercising so instead of buying track pants, have gone the route of wearing compression clothing under shorts. Yes, it looks as sexy as it sounds. I think even if you want to wear track pants, you will still need thermal underwear or compression clothing underneath anyway so I am really killing two birds with one stone. Was killing birds with stones some popular sport back in the day and can it still be done easily in winter too?

The other thing you need is some warm gloves. For running, I find the normal woolen gloves I have do the job just fine. If you are using the gloves to do pulling and pushing, you will need a thinner glove made of something else. I have bought the below cycling gloves and they work well for hanging exercises and allow me to do push ups in the snow like a boss. Even with these, near the end of my workouts when I am cooling down, my fingers are very frozen and I run home not for extra exercise, but so I don’t develop frostbite.


Other than this I also wear a hoodie, a beanie and a scarf as well. The good thing about these options is you can easily ditch them mid-workout once (if) you heat up.


Cycling outside is still possible but the combination of my lack of experience, a road bike with skinny tyres, and the possibility of riding on ice is not a good mix. Throw in the cold temperatures made even colder by traveling along at 20-30 kmh and taking this inside is clearly the best option. Hell, even Rocky didn’t do cycling outside in Russia.

For this, you need some sort of inside bike trainer. I am lucky given Eva is already a triathlete. I can annoyingly borrow/steal her things until I get my own. You could say Eva is Flanders and I am her Homer Simpson in this regard. In her workout dungeon, my new bike has taken over and dominates her bike trainer now.


Property of Ned Flanders

Along with a bike trainer you will also want to get a spare wheel fitted with a training tyre. The training tyre will last longer on the trainer, be much quieter and you won’t waste your normal road tyres. Having an extra wheel means you can keep the training tyre fitted and simply swap the rear wheel when you want to ride outside. Otherwise you will have to keep swapping tyres which would be a major pain in the bike seat.


Technically as long as the outside place you want to swim is not frozen solid, you could still do it in a wet suit. Just this week was Nicholas day (a Christmas tradition for another post) and he makes his journey down the river in a boat while people swim next to him in wet suits with lanterns.

The only other realistic option is the overly expensive swimming pool filled with random obstacles known as “old people”. The only inside pool in Bamberg costs 4.60 EUR for 90 minutes and more if you stay longer. Usually in Australia and New Zealand there is no time restriction, you pay an entrance fee and you can stay all day if you want too. I don’t normally want to stay any longer than 90 minutes, so no big deal but it seems kind of petty to have a time-limit.


Germany wants you to get fat over this period. There are tasty treats galore at the Christmas market, a Saint is stuffing sweets in your boots and you have advent calenders with daily sweet treats behind each door. As if that alone is not enough, you also need to really test your will to continue to leave your toasty centrally heated home to freeze outside or freeze in your cellar.


Sport chocolate must be somewhat healthy?

Stay strong with your commitments over winter, winter is depressing enough without then having to play catch up when the warmer months roll around.






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