When booking a challenge we tend to select races that land in spring and summer months, the issue is that often these require winter training. Winter training is hard work! Not only do you need to battle the unpredictable elements, you also have to contend with the lack of drive and energy, due to the weather. What can you do to push to get the best out of winter training and avoid the common, “I’ll do it later” scenario.
Dull days and the ridiculous weather can really take it’s toll so let’s kick things off with how you adjust your training to cater to it.
Huge motivation for me is always having a partner in fitness crime. I seriously wobble this time of year, and the worst part is if I even take a few days off from training I’m far more likely to procrastinate for longer. Having someone to train with helps push you to actually train. For example, Nick and I will do Zwift sessions together in our outdoor gym. I often cannot be bothered especially as it gets dark and cold, but having him on his Zwift ride at the same time as me, really does help and I feel far better after.
Join a club
If your buddy and you actually manage to talk yourselves out of a training session, rather than into one, it’s gonna be bad news moving forward. By all means, take it in turns to motivate but if you both ditch your training, then what hope is there?! This is where a fitness club of some sort comes in handy, like a running or swim club. I joined a running club and I must say I was both nervous and sceptical, to begin with, but this running club has both motivated and pushed my training further. Running club on a Wednesday and stick with a pacer, and I run. I don’t stop and turn around and go home because it’s cold or it’s raining, we push on until the session is over. The bonus of this is clubs tend to have all their sessions mapped out so it means they do the handwork for you. With my running club, each week is different and from a new location, it just keeps it interesting which is exactly what you need for winter training.
My body is a temple
This might seem a tad weird for me to throw into the mix, but lack of motivation for winter training as mentioned can be down to the weather. We constantly battle feeling sluggish this time of year, so looking after ourselves is key. It’s so easy to opt for comfort food with high sugars and heavy carbs, that it is no wonder that sluggish feeling often haunts us. I know this can be hard, especially when the over-indulgent month of December is in sight, but like any other month of the year, you have to watch what you consume.
If you are training and you have got a spring race like me, this is terribly important in keeping you focused. Lots of veggies is my go-to in winter months because I just do not fancy salads, so big patches of warming homemade healthy soup, lots of water and plenty of sleep. If any time of the year matters for looking after yourself, especially for picking up any sickness bugs, it’s now.
Gadgets for help
We use our phones for everything, so what about some apps to help or something like a fitness watch? I know Garmin watches are great for that and often remind you to move when you have been stationary for a while. I recently reviewed the Garmin Forerunner 945 which has been a complete game-changer for my winter training, and has 100% helped me keep motivated. You also have some apps like Strava and MyFitness pal, one for sharing your exercise and joining challenges, whilst the other keeps your food diary logged, which is great if you feel yourself slipping into winter comfort habits.
Adapt your exercise
I have struggled even taking my road bike out since I got it because any free time I’ve had it’s been raining, so I’ve got a turbo trainer and invested in Zwift. This has allowed me to train well and perhaps even better than on the actual road. I am fully aware I need road training too, but this is essentially an adaptation of a decent training session regardless of weather. Other things you can do could be training in the gym if you don’t want to be running in the dark, or maybe even changing your training times to cater to the dark evenings.
Really, we all have the ability to be proactive with winter training, but like anything it takes organisation. If we plan and adapt to the change in weather and our mood, we can still achieve what we’re setting out to do. What do you often struggle with this time of year that holds you back? Write a list and start looking at ways to make some positive changes.