Gwen Jorgensen's Tips for Winter Training

January 02, 2020

Interview with Gwen Jorgensen

Photos courtesy of Talbot Cox

After winning gold in triathlon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Gwen Jorgensen, has powered through injury, workouts, and training to focus on the US Olympic track and field trials in June 2020 in the 10,000m and, possibly, the 5000m.

So what does this gold medalist do to keep strong when winter rolls around? Plenty of things that are easy for you to incorporate too.

What does your workout fueling look like?

Right now I am all about the hot apple cider hydration mix. I despise being cold and for the last few weeks, all of my workouts have been cold and rainy. I love having Skratch’s Hot Apple Cider hydration mix to keep me hydrated and warm me from the inside out.

For a workout day, I usually start my warm-up about one hour before the workout starts with a 20-minute run and then head inside to change into dry clothes. This is also when I eat anywhere from three to six raspberry Skratch chews along with water. I then do some activations, stretches, and drills. After the body is warmed up, I usually sip on some Skratch hydration mix and switch my shoes before doing some strides. After the strides, I am primed and ready to go. Depending on the length of the workout, I may or may not hydrate with my hydration mix and chews. Immediately after the workout, but before my cool down I either have a Skratch bar (I love the savory ones, a nice change from sweet) or with a Skratch Recovery mix (horchata is my current favorite). It is so important to get food quickly after a workout. Because I usually have to shower and have some travel time to get home before I can get in a meal, I make it a priority to eat something immediately after my workout.

Nutrition is probably the biggest switch I’ve made since going pro. I focus on the timing and the quality of what I put in my body and I notice if I forget or skip a step in my pre, during, or post-workout nutrition that my body and recovery suffer immensely. I also have noticed that I’m more satisfied all day long if I eat something immediately post-workout 

Outdoor options/safety:
What is your favorite equipment for training outdoors in the winter?

Gloves are a necessity for me. I also love my winter cycling boots.

What safety gear do you use when it is darker out? Icy conditions? Staying warm?

I love riding my Specialized Turbo Vado. It has big tires, lights, and reflectors that make it easy to be seen in the dark. I also love Specialized’s high visibility gear. It makes me feel safer while commuting.

I also wear a Road ID on my Polar watch, which contains my emergency contacts and medical information.

I think sunglasses are underrated. Sunglasses are like sunscreen, they protect the body from harmful rays [such as reflection from snow or ice]. I wear my Rudy Project sunglasses year-round. Propulse is my favorite Rudy Project sunglasses, they are lightweight and stay on my face without fogging up. I barely even notice I have anything on my face. .

Trainers + Motivation:
How do you stay focused?

When I choose to run inside I take that time to focus on my run form. I love using the treadmill for form checks because there are no distractions like trail conditions, traffic lights, or cars. I focus on relaxing my shoulders or I hop off the treadmill to activate my glutes.

How do you keep it fun? Using Zwift makes running inside fun. I used to hate using a treadmill but now that I have a virtual reality to run in I look forward to my afternoon runs inside. I love that I am able to interact with people from all over the world. When I was coming back from surgery this summer I was using the bike races on Zwift to scratch my competitive itch.

When do you use Zwift vs. going outside? I really enjoy using Zwift for my second run in the evening. This allows me to focus on my form and run whenever I would like. If I run outside I am limited by the daylight and conditions. 

Strength training:
During the winter I work to assess any strength deficiencies. I often work on glute, peroneal, and foot strength.

Here are some of my favorite exercises:

I like these exercises because they can be done any time of the year and anywhere - inside or outside.

Fitness Tracking + Consistency:
What do you use for fitness tracking? Why?

I use TrainingPeaks to track my fitness. It gives great metrics of fitness and how I’m recovering. I love that I am also able to track my menstrual cycle and how I’m feeling on a daily basis so I can look back on training to see how I respond to different stimuli. While training, I use my Polar HR watch. I love using heart rate to make sure I am recovering. Pace can be dictated by conditions, elevation gain, or training at altitude. Heart rate is a way to consistently measure my effort. I can also use my Polar heart rate to make sure I am recovering. If my heart rate is too high it is an indication for me to take a step back. I use Sleep Number SleepIQ to track my sleep nightly. It lets me know if I’m ready for a big day of training or if I need to rest. I am able to see my resting heart rate, breathing rate, restfulness and more. I find that my sleep varies depending on my training. Sometimes after a hard workout, I actually sleep worse. I make sure on hard days to focus on my breathing and relaxation before going to bed and stick to a routine.

What keeps you consistent? Do you have a weekly routine -- what does routine look like for you? Why?

I set big goals and let others know what they are to hold me accountable. I have always been vocal about my desire to win an Olympic Gold medal. Stating this goal holds me and my team accountable. This keeps me motivated on a daily basis. I try to be average every day. An average day means I’m working hard, putting in the hours, acutely conscious of what I am doing, and making an effort. If that becomes a habit, then all those good habits become average. And average just keeps getting better and better.

I have a sleep routine. It is the same every night. At 8 pm I put Stanley to bed, which thankfully only takes about five minutes. I am in bed by 8:15 and watch 30 minutes of TV with Patrick before either reading or going to sleep. Every night I am asleep before 9:30 pm. I rarely stay out past 8 pm because I know I need to stick to my routine in order to get quality sleep. Some may see this as a sacrifice, but I love the way I feel after a good night’s sleep and so I enjoy having an excuse to get home early.

Do you keep routine during the holidays?

I do, I ran twice on Christmas day this year but I still had plenty of time to enjoy family time. I did take a break from my core exercises on Christmas and even skipped my PT exercises. Hopefully, my PT doesn’t read this, but for Christmas, I know it’s important to keep a routine, but also allow time for a mental break to enjoy the family. It isn’t a supercritical time in the season and although routine leads to consistency and ultimately greatness, flexibility and mental breaks are necessary or our bodies will shut down.

What training block are you in? Based on what block you are in what are the advantages and disadvantages of wintertime?

My coach and I do not have a specific name for this period of training right now. I guess I would say that I am training to resume competition. For a long time post-surgery my goal was simply to return to health, then return to training and now I have some racing on the horizon that I am getting ready for.

Recovery + Rest:
Gwen has four pillars when it comes to sport and recovery they are sleep, balance, nutrition, and bodywork. See the video below for her in-depth approach to these pillars.

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