It can’t just be me that gets winter blues and a serious mojo deficiency in winter.
In the winter months it is hard to get motivated to train, especially if you’re like me and like to train outdoors. So how do we beat the winter blues and stay motivated? Let’s start with a motivation poster quote, probably incorrectly attributed to Ghandi or Confusus:
“The hardest step on any journey; is the first.”
It’s a fair point, I’m sure once I’m out on the trails I’ll start enjoying myself, but knowing that it’s going to get easier doesn’t make that first step any less insurmountable! One way to make that step easier is to kit up early. Get kitted up in your running gear, you can always throw a hoodie on over the top, make a brew, potter about, think about a route. I like this preparation, as I can potter about in the house knowing that I am going to go out for a run when I’m ready. It then takes 30 seconds to strip off, get out the door and get training!
Short and sweet. No one wants to go out in the dark, cold, drizzle for a 20 mile training run. If they say they do, they are a probably a liar and you should hide them from your facebook feed. So plan a short two or three mile loop, but keep your options open. If you’re feeling good when you're out there, maybe throw a few hill repeats in, or have a few extra goes at a Strava segment, safe in the knowledge you’re still only about 10 minutes away from home, a cup of tea and warm set of clothes. You never know, your short two or three miles might turn out to be seven or eight miles training. Whatever you accomplish it was better than nothing.
Gloves, hats, socks. This isn’t race day, you can wear wooly hats, wooly gloves and thick socks. Nothing sends you back indoors quicker than cold feet or cold hands or even cold ears. Be comfortable, be warm. And gentleman, if you start over heating you can create and impressive bulge by stuffing hats and gloves down the front of your running shorts or tights, and ladies you can add some padding into your boulder holders too.
I think it was Abraham Lincoln, or maybe Luke Skywalker that said:
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
If it’s dark or going to get dark when you're out training, then take a head torch or plan a well lit route. Do wear something with high-vis stripes or better still a high-vis jacket. Nothing will ruin your day like being hit by a bus! I know it’s not cool to have your phone strapped to your arm these days when running. But do take a phone when you're running in the dark. No matter how much your other half loves you, they are not going to stop watching Game of Thrones when you are 45 minutes late. They are not going to come looking for you in the cold dark drizzle if you take a tumble or twist an ankle. Take a phone, slip a tenner in with it too, so you can happily twist and ankle, phone a taxi and be home in no time!
Finally you need to imagine a poster of an epic bald eagle, standing on a mountain ridge, staring out into the middle distance, with the strap line:
“Visualise your better self and strive to be 110%”
Okay, discounting the obvious mathematical inaccuracy and condescending tone of this motivation poster. Do imagine yourself running along your favorite trails or routes and do imagine that feeling of freedom when you hit a great downhill section. Remember that epic feeling you get when you reach the top of a climb or a flight of steps. See yourself running like Jonathan Albon or Siri England through puddles and weaving around trees. Stoke that fire that burns inside you, stoke that fire that reminds you that you love running, that you love the outdoors, and that you are an EPIC hero that trains in all conditions.
If I could, I would stand at your front door and spank your ass as you leave the house to go out and train. GO GET ‘EM TIGER!