How do I stay motivated in Winter?
Here at Northern Bootcamp winter is in full flow, as I sit in a cosy warm office typing, our final group of campers of 2017 are out walking in the snow. All of us, including myself (Caroline) and Dan find it that little bit harder to get your trainers on when it is freezing, dark and gloomy outside. So how do I keep going with an exercise routine in the winter months?
Life for Dan and I is a little different to the majority of people, fitness is our lives and livelihood, so not exercising is not an option, we need to stay fit for our jobs and also at this point in life, training is a habit – something that we just do. However, both of our training plans do change over winter compared to summer and that leads us on to top tips to keep you motivated.
- Change your routine and lower your expectations and intensity levels. If you have trained like a demon over the summer, then it is not such a bad thing to give your body a little respite. (If you haven’t trained over the summer but want to start now – then start slowly). This does not mean stop training, but it does mean adapting your training program without feeling guilty. When life, or snow get in the way many of us will miss a training session that we had planned to do, this then feels like a failure and leads to negative thoughts and then results in missing the rest of the weeks sessions, soon we have decided to give up until after the New Year. Why? All because you missed a session? Instead, accept that your exercise session may reduce from 4 to 2 per week in the next few weeks. However, the worse thing we can do is give up altogether. Aim for a maintenance of fitness in December, rather than an improvement. Anything extra is a bonus and deserves a huge giant pat on the back from me and from yourself.
- Train indoors. If you do not have a gym membership and have always done your own training outside, consider looking for a class or place you can go and pay just a one-off fee for the class that is indoors. When the conditions, whether it be the dark nights, or the frosty ground result in consecutive training cancelations it’s time to look for a different option, even if it is only one session per week. Dan and I attend a local Crossfit class once per week (increased to twice in December) where you can pay as you go, local gyms or indoor bootcamps usually offer this option too.
- Buy new kit. We all love the excuse to buy new gear and if it means it is going to get your butt out of the door and make you feel good about yourself then it is worth the investment. Look for reflective, warm, windproof kit. Include gloves, hat, jacket and thermal layers. Budget clothing from some supermarkets is often all you need, wear plenty of layers and don’t forget a head torch. It can be daunting running in the dark, or attending an outdoor class in the dark, cold and wet. However, that feeling when you walk back into a warm cosy house is even twice as good when you have conquered both the weather and the devil on your shoulder who was telling you to put your pjs on and sit on the sofa.
- Get prepared the night before. If you are planning an early morning session, lay out all your kit in the bathroom, including all of your layers, so that you have to trip over it when you get up. Even if you really don’t want to train, get dressed and put your kit on. If you have hit the snooze button, then just reduce your training time, but do not let it beat you. 15 minutes in the cold, running/walking/lunging is far better than nothing at all. If you have exercised you are more likely to make better food choices that day and feel more positive about the day ahead. If you are training after work, pack your bag the night before so that it is ready to go with you to work and get changed at work before coming home. It is much harder to go back out once you have arrived home. Go straight to work, even if you need to sit and read a book while you wait for your class to start. Do not come home first.
- Train outside in daylight hours. If at all possible, adapt your work routine so that you can take a slightly longer lunchbreak and train outside. Vitamin D is so important in winter and can have a huge impact on your energy levels. With only the face exposed, you need to get as much vitamin D as you can. Even if your training session is a 30-minute power walk, it is certainly better than 30 minutes sat at a desk eating comfort food.
- Drink more water and remember food is fuel. In colder weather we often forget to drink water. It is essential to stay hydrated in winter, especially if you are indulging in more alcohol than usual or because of the cold drinking more, hot caffeinated drinks, both of which will dehydrate you. Hydration levels, affect performance, both physically and mentally. Hunger is a feeling often confused with thirst, so before you reach for the biscuit tin, have a drink of water. Sugar levels play a major role in energy levels. Even if you can’t train as much, still remember “FOOD IS FUEL”. Making good food choices, will stabilise your energy levels and make you feel much more able to take on the session you wanted to do that day.
- Set yourself a Spring challenge or goal. Either sign up for an event in Spring, a race, a swim, a cycle or a northern Bootcamp! When the going gets tough, you know you have this event coming up and you know you want to complete it. On race day there is no option to have a few extra snoozes, you must get up and get it done. Apply that principle to your planned training sessions. If an event is not for you, then set yourself a different goal, but a goal that you really want to achieve, you want to achieve that more than you want the extra snooze in bed.
- Swap your training days around and use the weekend daylight more effectively. If you always do your training during the week, then change this around for the next few weeks and get out and train at the weekend. Many social events will be midweek in December, so make that your weekend and enjoy a clean healthy Saturday instead. Take out 30 mins of your weekend with an interval session; hill sprints, fartlek, turbulence training. All of which are high intensity and therefore do not need to take up hours. However, they will generate a metabolic disturbance and keep you burning fat long after you take your trainers off.
- Try exercising at home. Just one session a week in your kitchen or living room, is far better than none. There are lots of HIIT sessions available on you tube that require no equipment at all. There are also some HIIT sessions in the Bootcamp kitchen recipe book or on our blog post. It only takes 20 minutes and requires no equipment at all. Everybody can find 20 minutes even a week full of parties and Christmas shopping.
- My final tip includes my top two phrases that always get me out of the door:
- YOU NEVER REGRET A RUN (OR TRAINING SESSION) – remember that feeling afterwards and you never think – I wish I hadn’t exercised.
- EARN IT OR BURN IT – indulge and enjoy every mouthful but make sure you have earned it before your do, or that you will burn it off the very next day.