How to Stay Motivated to Train in the Winter Months
It's rainy, cold, and dark outside and it seems almost impossible to get out of bed in the morning to work out. The days are shorter and the temperatures are dropping. Your bike trainer and treadmill are your new friends. Swimming doesn't seem too exciting, especially since the air temperature is chilly even though the pool is heated. These are some obstacles every athlete faces, especially if you live somewhere like Michigan or New York in the winter months. Even here in Texas we have some chilly mornings and occasional winter weather. The challenge is getting and staying motivated to train when conditions make it hard. So here are my top 5 tips to stay motivated to train even when you just don't feel like it!
1. This is a great time to build your aerobic base. This is a period of time during your training cycle where you do long steady efforts to build your aerobic endurance and capacity. This is the foundation of your training and the point at which you build from. I tell athletes that want to work with me for a race that is 6+ months into the future to START BUILDING. You can never have too much AEROBIC BASE. An example of this is a 2 hour bike ride done in Z2 or a one hour endurance run done at a pace where you can carry on a conversation the whole time. Think of it as the concrete foundation of your house. You want to make it strong because everything else is built on that.
2. Think of how you will feel if you DON'T do your workout. There is nothing worse than wishing you had gotten that dose of endorphins when you have a busy day ahead. Have you ever heard the saying, "I never did a workout that I regretted."? It's true. Don't get into the trap of sleeping in and putting it off until after work or school. It's way less likely to happen then than if you do it first thing in the morning.
3. As for swimming, people dread the feeling of getting in cold water and how that is going to feel first thing in the morning. I read an article somewhere on triswimcoach.com and Kevin talks about focusing on the 3rd and 4th lap instead of the first 1 or 2. All it takes is getting over that initial shock of cold but if you can keep focused on all of the laps beyond that, it makes cold water seem much more inviting.
4. Have you invested in some cold weather gear? The best time to buy this is at the end of the winter season of the previous year. Keeping your head warm is key and I use lobster gloves when I ride the bike. These are awesome for keeping your hands nice and toasty because your fingers aren't separated like finger gloves. I usually put on thermal shoe covers (yes I saran wrap my toes always) and invest in wool socks. There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate dress. Get warm and be motivated to #getitdone.
5. The off season is fairly short lived especially if you planned an early Spring race. The weeks before race day go by quickly. It's a great idea to put your race entry confirmation out in the open, maybe on the refrigerator so that you see what you signed up for OFTEN. This is a really good way to remind yourself of what lies ahead and the work you need to do to have a successful race. Put it out in the open, tell your family and friends that you have committed to an Ironman or 70.3, etc. so that it makes it REAL and you become even more committed.