Winter Training: Motivation
With the busy festive season over and winter starting to bite, motivation can be thin on the ground even for the most dedicated amongst us cyclists and triathletes. Whether you are looking to take on your first event in 2020, or you are a seasoned athlete, here are some tips from the team at Human Race to keep you moving during these stormy January days.
First of all, take some of the pressure off! Winter gives us the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. Use the time to connect with friends and do physical activities you wouldn’t usually do – think family walks, rock climbing or a dance class. Even if it is just a long restful weekend, give yourself a full mental and physical reboot – you will reap the rewards of later in the year.
Give it just 5 minutes
That said, for many of us, winter training is time to build our fitness base, to focus on our technique and to build strength. When that Netflix series is calling your name, or you are wrapped in cosy duvet heaven, throw your kit on without thinking too much. Give yourself permission to quit after 5 minutes. You almost never do. And if you do? You needed the physical or mental rest so put your feet up and hit your next training session refreshed.
Find a friend
It’s much harder to hit snooze when you know you are meeting a friend. If your friends have different hobbies, find a running club, a swim squad or a cycle group. Mixing some social into your sport schedule keeps you accountable, makes it fun and gives you good company, rain or shine.
Not sure where to start? Living in a new area? Find your local parkrun for a welcoming way to work a 5km into your Saturday. Its atmosphere is one of inclusion so whether you are racing or walking, you will fit in. You can also look up local clubs on The British Triathlon and British Cycling websites. Let’s face it – the steaming coffee and slab of banana cake is one of the top reasons for cycling!
Find your why and focus in on the joy
Cake aside, working out why you want to train is absolutely key. Whether it is for general health, to get on the podium, to connect with people or to set a good example for your family – focusing in on your reasons why is core to keeping going during the winter months. Work on seeing the joy in moving your body, the relief when the sun comes out for a moment or the tailwind scoops you up. Motivation will always ebb and flow but knowing your why, and finding the joy in it, will keep you disciplined.
Prepare your bags the night before
This is a classic. Scrambling around in the dark and cold trying to find your kit is not fun. What people neglect to tell you when you train for an event, triathlon in particular, the extra discipline is actually bag packing and kit washing. Ten minutes the night before definitely takes the sting out of getting up.
With mild and sunny days few and far between, it helps to be prepared for all weather. Not quite got the right kit? Invest in keeping your hands and feet warm first and build from there. Better to wear a running jacket on the bike and get outside, than wait until you have the perfect set up!
Wind is your friend
Look for the reasons why bad weather makes you a better athlete – after all, there is no guarantee of perfect weather come race day. Strong winds and rain improve your bike handling skills, build strengthen and develop grit. Plus you get more kudos in ice and snow.
Let’s face it though – when Storm Brendan lashes down, sometimes it is better to head to stick some good music on and head to the gym (or onto the trainer). Need tips? Watch the Global Triathlon Network’s video interview with the king of indoor training Lionel Sanders’ on his Indoor Training Secrets.
No gym membership? A yoga routine for athletes such as GCN Does Yoga is a good way to work in an indoor session.
As we all know, consistency is king! Losing a few days here and there is not a big deal but to lose weeks to illness can be demoralising and can derail your plans. As with everything, prevention is better than cure – particularly at this time of year. Focussing on eating well and keeping a regular sleep pattern should shore up your defences. For your training nutrition, check out SIS’s neat Winter Training bundle. Not sleeping well? Try Headspace’s Sleep hygiene tips.
Low on energy?
In hibernation season, this can be for many reasons but with one in 5 Brits low in Vitamins D at this time of year, it could be worth checking in with your GP and looking into supplementation.
This NHS ‘Behind the Headlines’ article on Vitamin D is a good place to start if you would like to dig in a little deeper.
Our Podcast tip:
None of our advice is rocket science. Finding ways to implement the things we know we need is the hard part! Catch Episode 175 of The Bevan James Eyles Show – A different way of approaching New Year’s resolutions – to identify the change you want to create – and the tools and strategies to get there.
Focus on an event
Planning an event into your diary gives your training purpose, structure and a sense of accountability. Think what an achievement it will be to cross that finish line and remember that everything banked now will help you take a step closer to your goals.
No race plans yet? Take a look through our events calendar for inspiration.