Motivation Tips for Winter Training
If, like me, you live in the northern hemisphere and your sporting goals for the season are still several months away, it can be tough at times to find the motivation to train hard through the depths of winter. The small bricks you lay throughout the winter months can seem insignificant at the time, and yet you know you must do the work if you want to race well. This article will lay out 5 top tips to get through the winter, stick to your training plan and to stay motivated despite the cold & dark winter months.
The best way to work towards your races during the winter is to plan ahead. During your off-season break sit down and set out your races and race goals for the season ahead. Pick the
races you want to do and put them in your calendar. Label them A, B & C for different levels of importance and then build your training plan backwards from your A race(s) such that it integrates your B & C races and progresses logically. The aim will obviously be to attain peak fitness for the A race(s) and use the B & C races as dress rehearsals or training races. Once your plan is in place you will have your roadmap for the season which will provide the route you need to follow
to achieve your goals.
Do Something Different
Fitness is fitness. Most endurance athletes focus on developing their aerobic capacity during the off-season and winter months, and there are several ways to do this.
Whether you’re training for running, cycling, triathlon or another endurance sport you can use the winter months to do different sports to develop your aerobic base. This can include cross country skiing, mountain biking, ski mountaineering, hiking, rowing on an erg machine or anything that gets your heart and lungs pumping. You will find it provides a nice break from your usual sport, and that your aerobic base will still develop enough to see progress in your training.
Set Training/Process Goals
If your race goals seem too far away to be achievable or realistic it can be useful to set intermediate goals that will set you on the path to achieve the outcome goals. It is proven that process goals provide the motivation often required to achieve outcome goals, and that process goals can often be more motivating in and of themselves than outcome goals. This is because they provide tangible evidence of
progress on a day-to-day basis, as well as the checks and balances required to reassess your training plan to achieve the desired outcome goal. Examples of process goals can be consistency based, improved power values on the bike, a higher threshold pace as a runner, increased strength in the gym or anything that you as an athlete feel provides proof of progress in the right direction.
Do a Training Race
Training races during the off season can be a useful tool for setting intermediary objectives for your training. These races can also be an opportunity to try different sports or different races. Great examples are cross country running races, Cyclocross races, trail running or ski mountaineering & cross-country skiing races even.
As explained above, fitness is fitness and racing is racing. At the very least, a race is the perfect opportunity to get your intense session done for the week and always an opportunity to rehearse the feeling of pre-race nerves without the pressure of it being an A-race for your season.
Stick to a Routine
The human brain loves routine, it provides comfort and familiarity. If you struggle for motivation during the depths of winter the solution might be to stick to a routine. By sticking to a routine, you can build consistency, and consistency equals fitness. Set yourself a weekly or a daily routine and stick to it. Before you know it, you’ll find that action provides motivation, and you will enjoy sticking to the routine as it provides the satisfaction of achieving something and the reassurance that you’re working towards your upcoming goal. Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day, that can happen, but don’t let one day turn into two or three, because that’s the start of a new routine that will be hard to break out from.