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My thoughts and musings with regards to getting the best out of your training and racing - and enjoying it along the way!

Winter training motivation struggles

woodsey96by woodsey96Oct 16th 2013
Funny isn't it? In spite of all the admiration you receive for your dedication, discipline and commitment to training and racing in the summer, and despite your pride for living an active lifestyle, it can still be challenging to maintain day-to-day motivation for training in the winter.

It can also be confusing when you don't feel like your normal self. On the inside you feel like you lack drive or you can't find your mojo to get up and go. That's when the excuses start to creep in.
So, here are 15 excuse busters to nudge you, push you, or inspire you to stay motivated and keep moving through the cold months.

Excuse: "It's too hard to get out of bed on cold, dark mornings."

It's true that temperature and light have direct impact on our body rhythms in the winter extremes. But there are simple things you can do to encourage yourself to leave the comfort of your warm bed.
Create heat. Adjust the thermostat timer to warm your home or bedroom before the alarm goes off. If the temperature outside the duvet is as enjoyable as inside, poof! the excuse is gone. Even better, put your workout clothes on the heater or radiator so they are toasty warm and ready for you when you climb out of bed.
Recreate early sunlight. Invest in a bedside lamp that simulates natural daylight. For example, the Phillips 'Wake-up Light', endorsed by the National Sleep Foundation, gradually increases the light and comes with built in clock and alarm. Starting your day with natural light will help activate your internal clock to get ready to take on the day.
Tune your alarm. Rather than a normal, annoying alarm clock, use your iPod or similar device to play specific songs that get you going. It doesn't need to be your techno dance mix but something that lifts your mood and energy will do wonders for your ability to get out of bed on the first try.
Find a friend. Find someone who will commit to joining you in the morning for walks or workouts, and hold you accountable for showing up. Knowing someone is waiting for you to share the pain of the early darkness might be just the stimulus you need to throw back the covers and get out of the house.

Excuse: "I may be out of bed but I still don't want to go outside."

It's easy to fall into a vicious cycle of excuses that destroy momentum and kill motivation to be active. Use these ideas to boost your mood from the get go.
Put your head under water. Rather than clinging to the comfort of your favourite housecoat while shuffling to the kitchen for a coffee, make a beeline to the shower. The water will wake you. Getting dressed right away also will help get you past the urge to lounge lazily over your latte.
Dress the part. The truth is there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices. Is it time to upgrade to proper winter performance gear? If you've balked at the cost of higher-priced winter hats, gloves, tights, tops or jackets for outdoor activity, just ask anyone who's used them: The price is easily offset by the increase in enjoyment, comfort and enthusiasm that helps counteract the cold. If you already have some, maybe it's time to treat yourself to a new piece. A new base layer or trail running shoes might be the bribe you need to head outdoors on a regular basis.

Keep it simple, stupid (K.I.S.S.).

The best way to overcome our excuses is to not create them in the first place. The more things that need to fall into place in order to get to the gym on time, the more likely we are to find a reason not to go. If you have to drive too far in the snow or ride a cold subway across town, you're creating extra hurdles that will attract excuses.
Keep it simple: go for a 25-minute run around the office block at lunch, do three laps of your neighborhood first thing, or switch things up at the gym by using only the cardio machines you don't have to wait for. You'll finish a quality workout with less hassle and at a pace that feels rewarding.
Warm up indoors. Do some jumping jacks, leg lifts or pushups in your living room before heading out. Not only will it get your heart rate going and your blood circulating, it will make it very difficult to slide back into bed. Excuses be gone!
Tap into technology. Proclaiming your intention to workout each day on Facebook, Twitter, your blog or online community (e.g. Nike+) can strengthen your commitment, even if it is to avoid the embarrassment and guilt of not following through.

Excuse: "I can't find the same passion or fire to do it regularly."

What drives you in the summer is probably different from what motivates you in winter. When there's not a big race on the horizon, what fuels your daily ambition?
See the big picture. Find, or make your own 12-week calendar from January to March. Put it on one page and post it somewhere you'll see it every day (bedroom wall or office desk) . When you look at all three months together you realize how fast it's going to go.
Use this to plan and track your workouts and the winter events you'd like to participate in. Winter can seem long but if you focus on the big picture, you'll see the spring thaw is just around the corner. With it looming that close, you'll be more motivated to get fit and ready for the first race of the year.
Use mini-goals for major rewards. Set small targets that lead to higher intensity, focus and discipline to stay on track each day. Perhaps the number of miles this week, the number of workouts over the next seven days, or steady improvements in strength gains on the bench press. For maximum motivation, always write your goals down, making them specific and measurable, and track progress so you can reward yourself for the results.
Create your own challenge. Speak to the gym manager and together devise new and motivating challenges for members. If your health club doesn't do an indoor triathlon or duathlon, take charge and make it happen. Not only does it keep you fit but it helps build your commitment to train and create camaraderie with other members. We started the 100 press up challenge to build up at 1 a day so that you can earn your Christmas dinner! It┬'s not too late to join in!
Remember what works for you. If you find yourself suitably motivated in the summer, what specifically created that motivation: Targets? Goals? Friends? Coach? Competition? The great outdoors? How can you tap into the driving force and the feeling it creates in the summer and replicate something similar now?

Turn from student to teacher.

If you're an experienced athlete, now is a great time to offer your knowledge to someone who could use extra guidance to get into the sport. Is there someone you know that has hinted at trying a triathlon? Become their mentor. Just be sure to ease them into it and go at their pace, not yours. You'll find that sharing your enthusiasm with someone else also gives you enthusiasm to fuel your own workouts.

Step out of the ordinary.

Months of in-season intensity and pushing your limits will tire the best of us. Do you need a physical break from what you've always done to give your body time to recover and heal? (see the previous blog!)
Take a yoga or pilates class. They are easy on the joints but provide great lasting benefits. Do you need a mental break from a tough season? Cross train with a different sport that doesn't require a stop watch or power meter. This will help ease your mind from information overload so you can stay active without stressing over stats. We recently ran a 30 day yoga challenge as something different from our Facebook page ┬- with some good following. Not all of it will be to everyone┬'s tastes, but if you can take something from it all the better!
Don't hesitate. Give one of these a try this week and share your ideas for what keeps you motivated.
 
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