Winter is the time of year when we naturally want to slow down and take it easy. It is also the time where we are much more likely to overindulge in excessive eating and drinking, so it isn't really the time to reduce our training. I have never been one to stick to a training plan over the winter months, I just tend to go out when the weather looks promising or I feel like it.
However, having learned the hard way, training over winter does set us in good stead for the new season. Having a regime over winter is much more beneficial in the long run.
Being disciplined at this time of year is difficult. The weather is against us, cold fingers and extremities are off-putting, and the ground can be slippy. There are a few options open to those of us who want to leap into spring in a pique physical condition.
Tips for outdoor exercise
Get kitted out. You want a fabric that will keep sweat away from your skin. A good waterproof jacket, Roubaix tights and a merino base layer will all help keep you warm. Don't forget to dress brightly for high visibility. Layer up and wear a hat and gloves.
Be Careful. Be cautious and be aware of the surfaces outside. Leaves litter the ground making it slippery, not to mention ice. Be cautious of drivers and their stopping distance and visibility.
Stay hydrated. Drinking in winter is as important as drinking in summer. Just because it is cold and you don't feel thirsty, it doesn't mean you are sweating less. Keep that water bottle handy!
Keep it sustainable. You are training but also having fun. Don't push yourself to new limits, but do stretch yourself.
Tips for indoor exercise
Join a local gym. If the cold isn't for you, then train indoors. A gym instructor can make a program for you based on your needs, you can circuit train and keep your fitness levels up.
Get fit with friends. Start an indoor badminton, tennis, squash (you get the idea) team with friends. Make it fun and competitive.
Swim for it. Swimming is a low-impact option and works out the whole body. Do a few leisurely lengths or join a class for a real workout.
Get mindful. Do something a little different and join a yoga or pilates class. These are great for keeping you supple as well as focusing your mind.
Tips for at-home exercise
Get some equipment. If you have a bike, get a stationary trainer and you can cycle indoors. Otherwise get some kit and put together a home gym. You can buy new or second-hand and buy as much as you can fit in your home and afford.
Do your housework quickly. Make chores fun and part of a workout. You can work up a sweat by hoovering, running up and down the stairs etc. Just put some good tunes on and have lots of vigour.
Buy a DVD. There is a multitude of exercise DVDs on the market. Pick one that you will like, it can be as long or as short as you like and is a cheap way to keep fit at home.
Circuit training. Yes, you can circuit train at home. Star jumps, steps, skipping, dancing, stair runs, sit-ups, chair dips, wall lunges and so on. Make a routine up and go for it.
One of the most difficult things to do is to stay motived. We have some tips for that too!
- Stay sensible. Choose a gym or activity near your home. Travel can put you off and give you a reason not to go, so don't let it become an obstacle.
- Keep it social. Train with someone who has the same goals as you do. This will make committing to a run, cycle etc much easier and you are more likely to do it. Plus the company will make time fly and you will have fun.
- Keep your expectations realistic. There will be times when it is difficult, or you miss a session. Don't let it set you back, just keep going. If you set your expectations too high, then you can let yourself down. So keep your goals real and achievable.
- Go go go. Don't talk yourself out of it. Get in the habit from autumn and the winter won’t seem like such a huge obstacle. Commit, have fun and spring into spring when it comes around.