After nearly 2 years of consistent training every week, I guess I have a slight advantage when winter comes creeping in and the mornings and nights get colder and darker.
This may be a controversial opinion but I think that training in the winter probably comes a bit easier to those who are further on in their fitness journey than those just starting out. This is purely on the basis that they have built up dedication towards their goals and resilience when it gets tough, over a period time.
However, that’s not to say that I find it easy. The only thing I like about Winter training is that battling the elements/getting it done when others don’t makes me feel like a BOSS! Other than that, no thanks; I’ll pick long, light Summer nights and early morning runs any day. I don’t pretend that I bound out of bed raring to go run 5 miles at 5.30am. I am generally very honest in this blog. Sometimes I find it hard. Everyone does and it’s simply part of human nature. There are weeks where I am so into my training and don’t fall off the wagon at all with my nutrition. But there are also times when I just want to take a rest day or eat intuitively. Queue the mini breakdown when I ask myself, ‘am I going to be on a diet for the rest of my life?’ or ‘will I get fat if I stop running?’
These are moments of pure emotion. Me, over-reacting when I find things hard. The logical side of me knows that I’m not on a diet at all. I’m eating in a way that allows me to fuel my body to reach my goals. I’m not exercising because I think I have to lose weight, I’m doing it because I enjoy it and it makes me happy. The bigger picture is that exercise and controlling my nutrition make me happy. Achieving the challenges I set myself makes me happy. Sure, a packet of crisps or a big calorie-laden meal may bring short term happiness (for all of about 5 seconds) but in the long run, these things actually have the opposite effect on me as they interfere with my plans. I’ve learned to control these emotions, because I have acknowledged over time that they are far more prominent in the Winter months when my training programme and nutrition plan feel a bit tougher to adhere to.
Anyways, back to the original subject of this post; training in Winter. I want to help those who have just started training (perhaps in the Summer) to remain consistent when it’s not as easy and develop their training into a lifestyle that they are able to maintain throughout the entire year. But this post may also be helpful to those of you who have been training forever.
Here are my top tips for Winter training;
Invest in the correct equipment, appropriate for the season.
You’re not going to be comfortable working out throughout the winter months in the same clothes you ran in throughout the Summer. It’s far too cold! If you work out outdoors or commute to the gym without a car, this will most likely mean adding layers. Make sure you can always take something off if you start to overheat once you’re on the move! You don’t want to cut a workout short because you’re too cold or overheating!
If you’re a runner like me (and cyclists too), reflective gear and body/bike lights are a good idea for those dark morning and after work runs. If you have the luxury of being able to run during the daylight hours – I am jealous!
Do it with a friend.
If you arrange to meet someone to work out you’re far less likely to cancel or find excuses not to go because you’d be letting them down too. This also helps validate when your reasons for not working out are legitimate or ‘excuses’. Having this level of accountability will increase your chances of adhering to your workout plans. Just this morning, I really didn’t want to get out of bed but as Brandon and I were going running together, I forced myself to get up!
Organise your training to avoid bad weather.
I prefer to exercise outside as much as possible but there would be no point in planning ALL my workouts from November to February outdoors. I live in Scotland and the weather can be unpredictable to say the least. If you know it’s potentially going to be bad, always have a plan B so you don’t miss your session.
Track your nutrition.
Don’t throw your ‘Summer diet’ out the window in favour of the hearty calorie-laden foods we often see being enjoyed/promoted at this time of year. Whilst it’s typical that people ‘bulk’ at this time of year, this doesn’t mean you need to gorge throughout the entirety of November and December.
But you don’t have to eat cold salads throughout the Winter either. Recipes can be adapted and you can still enjoy seasonal, hearty meals whilst adhering to your plan. Eat smarter, not less.
Meal prepping and tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal can be a saviour when it comes to logging your meals. Stay accountable and don’t throw away all the hard work you’ve put in so far, or you’ll be back to square one in January.
Set multiple alarms.
Does this one need explaining? If like me, you train in the mornings, it always helps!
Basically, keep up everything you’ve been doing throughout the summer months. Don’t skip workouts for Netflix just because it’s cold and dark. The TV is always going to be there. And as for a big hearty feast, that’s what Christmas Day is for…
Do you guys have any tips or tricks that keep you on track with your training during the colder months?