Let’s face it, when it’s cold, or cold and raining, cold and snowing, and dark, we just don’t feel as motivated to train. It’s harder to put on your trainers and your kit inside in the warm, to then have to launch yourself into the harsh conditions.
In the UK and Northern Hemisphere there are also much fewer events for us to enter, so we lose the impetus of training for a big goal. Many of us plan to start our proper training on January 1st, perhaps because it’s around 16 weeks out from a Spring marathon, or maybe just because it seems a good time to start getting fit after the holidays.
But what if we could keep our fitness over the winter and even enjoy it too?
Here are my 10 tips how to keep fit and keep the fun of winter training
1. Have a goal in mind
You may have thoughts of running your first 5k, riding a sportive, getting a marathon PB, or trying an ultra. Whatever it is, you will feel and train better if you have some pre training under your belt before you start a proper training plan. Knowing you are taking early steps to achieve your goal will help you get out the door.
If you haven’t got a goal yet, get dreaming one up. Maybe you’ve seen some people on social media doing things that look fun or know someone who really enjoyed entering an event. Ask them, get googling, and find something you’d like to aim towards.
2. Get social
Running or riding with others is not only more fun, but good safety too in the dark, or difficult conditions. Knowing you have to meet someone is a great way to commit and show up to do the training.
3. Keep it entertaining
If you can’t train with others, listening to music or an audiobook can help distract you from the cold. Just make sure you can still hear traffic and other runners and cyclists around you.
4. Mental toughness
Know if you can train in dark, cold, rain, mud and snow, then you will be mentally tougher when it comes to training or competing in better conditions.
You might also be stronger than all those who stayed inside while you were out there winter training.
5. Get kitted out
We’re very lucky to be training in an age of technical garments (how did those early explorers do it without goretex?!). The old adage is true – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. So put on your gloves, your base layers, your waterproofs, your luminous kit and lights, and get out there.
6. Stay in
If you really can’t face it, or it’s just not safe to go out, make use of that gym membership! Do a spinning class or run on the treadmill.
It’s also a great chance to strengthen your core and any muscle weaknesses for the months ahead.
7. Do a fun event
Forget about PBs and seek out some more unusual seasonal events, from running in Santa outfits over Xmas, to trying out some muddy Cross Country where the focus is getting round, not on timings.
8. Change it up
Give yourself some added fun. Try some new routes. Try out the trails. Grab a backpack and run or bike to the post office (this is how I deliver all Art Of Your Success orders!) or shops. Meet your family in a pub with a log fire at the end of your route.
9. Keep flexible
It’s tempting just to come back in and get warm. But don’t forget to keep stretching, and if you’re not in the habit already, try some Yoga or Pilates classes to keep you strong and supple. Get rid of any niggles before they become a problem when you want to ramp up your training.
There’s no need to go mad, just keep some base training going. Still plenty of time for friends and family. You and they may even enjoy the time together even more once you’ve got out and done some training!
Let me know in the comments below what’s the most useful tip you’d like to try, and if you’ve got other tips we can all use.