While most people are putting away their bikinis and short shorts and getting the woolly knit out, for anyone who trains this means putting the vests away and getting the base layers out; winter training begins!
Transitioning from summer training when the days are longer and brighter, you can wear a vest and shorts, and generally feel more energetic to colder, darker nights when you would prefer to just go home to a hot meal and a blanket can be tough, so here are a few tips to help keep your training on track.
The saying "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail" is one of my favourites, because how true is that? Planning your week's training helps you stay on track. I ask my PT clients each week what their training schedule is for the week, then make a conscious effort to ask them each day how it went. It's all too easy to say that you'll go to the gym tomorrow and then skip the session. Make a weekly planner like mine below, set your alarms, and pack your bag the night before. Having something written down makes it real.
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday S&C Legs S&C Back and Biceps Teach Spin Watt Bike Teach HIIT Long Run Rest Day Boxing Watt Bike Core Core Teach Spin Core Run Club Teach Spin S&C Upper Body
By planning your workouts, you are being accountable to yourself, because no one likes to see skipped workouts crossed off the calendar. Also, if you train with someone else you don’t want to let them down. Tell people what you are doing, and you’ll find they will encourage you more than letting you slip into the chunky knit!
Take the training inside
Used to running or cycling outside? There is no reason why you can’t keep your stamina and energy levels up during winter. The only time I don’t run outside is if it is raining, as due to injury I cannot chance slipping on a leaf. So the treadmill helps! At the gym where I work we also have a 'skill mill'. This is a self-propelled treadmill which is shaped like a banana. It is much more natural to run on as it replicates running outside. I mix it up by running intervals. By turning the resistance up to its highest, it replicates a prowler. My current plan is below:
- 5 mins warm up jog, halfway resistance
- 2 min sprint, low resistance
- 2 min prowler, heavy resistance
- Repeat x 10
- 5 min cool down walk
When it comes to cycling, this one is easy. I teach 3 spin classes a week, but also am a big fan of the Watt Bike. This feels more natural than an upright bike and you definitely get a big workout on it! There are workouts on the Watt Bike app, or I tend to log into my Zwift app and follow one of their plans.
Who doesn’t love shopping for sportswear? It’s the perfect excuse to get some winter kit to make you warmer and more visible outside. These are my winter activewear essentials:
Buff (for neck or ears)
Buff (I wear 2, one round my neck and one under my helmet)
Get a Personal Trainer
Think of the money you are saving by not sitting in the pub beer garden with a cider! You could be putting your beer money towards keeping you motivated during winter.
Most personal trainers sell sessions by the block which works out cheaper than individual sessions. I tend to run a 6-week kick start course just before Christmas which gets everyone into the mind frame of training and eating better before the festive period.
Speak to a trainer about what your goals are. They will keep you accountable and it is their job to keep you motivated! If you were to have 1 session a week it could cost you around the same as your week's worth of coffees that you grab on the way to work.
‘Summer bodies are made in the winter’
We've all heard it, but it is true! You might want to swap your water for a hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream, but think about your reason 'why’. As a personal trainer and nutritionist, I’m a believer in moderation. I don’t advise cutting anything out of your diet, unless it is detrimental to your health.
I tend to eat well during the week, but I always order a pizza on a Saturday night. My Christmas tipple? Baileys Irish Cream! I don’t deprive myself, but I factor it in when I am training and ensure I do an extra few squat jumps or an extra kilometre run. In the past, I have found that if I completely deprive myself, I get ‘hangry’ and start to resent everyone who is tucking into their selection boxes while I am trying to convince myself that this yogurt is equally as satisfying.
So if you want the chocolate bar, have it, if you want the glass of wine, have it. Just don’t talk yourself out of going to the gym to burn it off!
About the author: Emma Vincent is a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and Sundried ambassador.
As the nights draw in and winter approaches, sometimes it's unavoidable to go running in the dark. We're here with all our top tips so that you can stay safe when running at night.
Run in familiar locations
When darkness creeps in, now is not the time to explore a new trail that you've been meaning to check out. Stick to well-known areas that you've run many times before.
Especially if you start your run when it's still light but then it starts to get dark, your eyes may not adjust as well as you'd expect and so any unexpected hazards could take you by surprise. Run in familiar locations that you know are safe and that you know you can easily get home from if things take a turn.
Run in well-lit areas
If you usually run in an unlit park or wildlife area, it's advisable to stick to well-lit public spaces if you're going to be running in the dark – especially if you run solo. You never know what might be lurking in the shadows and so it's best to mitigate risk by sticking to well-lit areas. This also reduces the risk of tripping over loose branches or tree roots and injuring yourself.
Take a fully-charged phone with you
You never know what might happen on a run, even in daylight, so having a fully charged phone on you could be a lifesaver (literally). It is also worth letting someone know that you are going running and how long you intend to be so that they know when to expect you home. Having friends and family know your whereabouts adds an extra element of safety when out running alone and can also add peace of mind for both parties.
Wear reflective clothing and LED lights
There are many different hazards when it comes to running in the dark: wildlife, trip hazards, other people, and also traffic. In order to minimise risk and make yourself as visible as possible, wear running clothing that has reflective detailing on it so that you stand out and can be seen. Your running leggings and running jacket should have reflective strips and panels so that you light up in a car's headlights and there is no chance that they won't see you.
Additionally, if you are going to be running in a park, wear LED lights such as a head torch not only to increase your visibility to others, but so that you are also able to see where you are going!
Stick to the path
Never overestimate how well a motorist can see you. Avoid running in the road wherever possible and always stick to a pedestrian footpath. Even if the road is well-lit, it's not worth risking being hit by a car, especially if you run with headphones and can't hear as well as normal.
One thing that all triathletes can agree upon is that winter training is the worst. Frozen fingers, numb toes, and the dreaded 'winter miles' come around every year but somehow it never gets easier. That's why here at Sundried we've come up with 10 ways to make winter training more bearable. So button up and don't lose hope just yet.
1. Invest in a great pair of gloves.
One of the worst parts of cycling outdoors in winter is frozen fingers. Cycling doesn't raise the core temperature in the same way running does and it's the extremities which suffer! Make sure you have a great pair of winter gloves at your disposal to combat against the pain of numb fingers. The Sundried winter gloves are made from 90% bamboo and are naturally great at insulating your hands without making your palms sweaty. They also feature silicon grippers to the palms so that you won't slip on wet handlebars. If cold weather gloves still aren't enough, try a pair of more heavy duty ski gloves.
2. Find an indoor set up that works for you.
Don't feel like you have to do all of your winter miles outdoors and suffer through the cold. A lot of Sundried ambassadors train indoors in the winter and this is a very common thing for a lot of triathletes. You have lots of options when it comes to training indoors, from using a spin bike at your gym to investing in a Wattbike or a Turbo Trainer. Find what works best for you and the set up you like best. Sundried ambassador and Team GB Triathlete Paul Suett has his turbo trainer set up in his garage, while fellow Team GB Triathlete Laura Rose Smith has hers in the house. So long as you make it work for you and you're comfortable, that's all that matters.
Use the tactic of layering up and utilise it to your advantage. Packable outerwear like the Sundried water-resistant jacket is perfect for outdoor winter miles because you can wear it to protect your from the elements, and then take it off and pack it away easily if you get too warm. The Sundried Grand Casse outdoor jacket packs away into its own little bag which you can clip onto you or your bike when you don't need it and whip it back out if it starts raining or even snowing. Wearing lots of layers means you can adjust your warmth and coverage throughout your ride.
4. Do a thorough warm-up.
If you start your ride cold, chances are you won't really warm up at all. Sometimes in summer we can be hot and sweaty before we even start a training session and it's easy to cut the warm up short. In winter, make sure you do a very thorough warm up so that your blood is pumping and your heart rate and core temperature are high before you even start. This will give you and your body a better chance out against the elements.
5. Make the miles count.
Don't head out and do 'junk' miles just because you think you have to. Make each mile count, and if you don't think the session will benefit you because you have a cold or the weather is particularly bad, decide whether it's actually better to skip that session all together or perhaps do a different type of training instead.
6. Don't go it alone.
Being motivated to train alone can be hard at the best of times, but particularly difficult in winter. If you don't usually ride with friends or a club, see if you can find one to join, if only for a few months. Most towns have a local cycling club who will be willing to welcome you warmly to the team. Cycling together will help to while away the hours out on the road and it'll mean you'll have team mates to help you if you experience any problems out there. Even a friend or family member to cycle with could make all the difference.
7. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Winter is a difficult time of year for everyone, from the short days and cold weather to the seasonal depression and winter illnesses, it affects us all. You'll never do your best training in winter and it will be really tough to stay motivated, so remember why you first started doing this and try to enjoy yourself as much as possible! Hopefully your motivation will thaw out in the spring.
Many people have heard of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – which refers to the low mood often experienced in winter. Short days, lack of sunlight, and a temptation to eat more 'comfort' food can all contribute to feeling low. But is it actually making us ill? And is taking a Vitamin D supplement the answer? We take a look.
Why do people get more ill in winter?
Do you feel like you're constantly ill over the winter? Coughs, colds, and even the flu make the rounds every year and it can really get you down if it feels like it's constant. But why do we get more ill in winter? There are several factors that cause it but there are also easy ways to combat it.
Drinking less water
If you're someone who regularly drinks plenty of water, it can be hard to believe that some people never drink plain water and exist solely on soft drinks, juices, teas, coffees, or just the water their body gets from food.
In summer, the heat causes people to drink more water because it makes them sweat and makes them feel thirsty. However, in winter it can be easy to 'forget' to drink enough water due to not sweating and feeling cold. Your body needs water to stay healthy and as such, a reduced water intake in the winter could be the reason you are always falling ill and catching colds.
Eating more junk food
It's no secret that the majority of us eat a lot more junk food in winter. Comfort food as it's often called helps us feel warm and comfortable in the dark evenings and something like a salad can be very unappealing in winter. However, surviving solely on junk food can mean reduced intake of vital nutrients and as such your immune system will suffer and you'll fall ill more easily.
Lack of sunlight
Vitamin D is an important vitamin that helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body and a Vitamin D deficiency can lead to weak bones and even deformities. In the summer months, we get all the Vitamin D we need from sunlight as our body is able to create this vitamin when we have sunlight on our skin. However, in winter it is pretty much impossible to get your daily intake of Vitamin D. You can supplement your intake with certain foods such as oily fish, red meat, and eggs, however it can be a good idea to take a Vitamin D supplement.
Why you should be taking a Vitamin D supplement
During the autumn and winter, you need to get Vitamin D from your diet because the sun isn't strong enough for the body to make Vitamin D. But since it's difficult for people to get enough Vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of Vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can get all the Vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet. You may choose not to take a Vitamin D supplement during these months, however if you do take one you may well find that you get ill less frequently (if at all) and that your mood is greatly improved.
When it’s minus five and pitch-black outside, the last thing that most of us want to do is bounce out of bed, bundle up and begin bounding down the frosty pavements on an early morning jog. But don’t worry, there are plenty of tips and tricks for getting in those steps and raising your heart rate, even when time gets tight and temperatures drop approaching the festive season.
Get into a realistic routine
It’s no good telling yourself that tomorrow morning you’re going to transform into the type of person who enjoys that 6am spin class, or vice versa finds a burst of energy after work to smash out that weights session at the gym, if you know it’s simply not realistic for you. Instead, work with your existing habits and find creative ways to fit in your daily exercise.
You could go to that lunchtime yoga session you’ve always fancied, get off the tube/train/tram one stop early and walk the rest of the way, or even take your lunch to go and take a long walk during your break. Or, if the only time you really can carve out is early in the morning or late in the evening, keep your motivation high by giving yourself a reward (like buying your favourite gingerbread latte on the way to the office), and reminding yourself what your end goal is.
Find something you love
It’s easier to get yourself out of the house and battle through the wind and rain if you’re excited about what you’re going to do. If you’re not into running, try cycling or HIIT workouts. Want something less strenuous? Give your local swimming pool or Pilates studio a visit. If you feel like you need to mix things up a bit then even give dance classes a go, or find out what an aerial silks class actually is (please report back tysm). You’ll only find out what exercise you love by trying everything at least once, so get outside your comfort zone!
Wear the right gear
When temperatures plummet, it’s important to keep warm and dry when you exercise outside. It can be tempting to head out on a frosty bike ride bundled up like the Michelin man, but instead, try to choose your winter training gear tactically to optimise your performance. Layering up rather than wearing one heavy hoodie or jacket will ensure you can regulate your temperature during every stage of exercise. It’s much more appealing to venture outside if you know you won’t get too cold or overheat half way through your session.
Refuel and recharge
If you’re making an effort to be active this winter, then it’s really important to fuel your body properly. Eating plenty of slow release carbs, protein (there are some great plant-based sources!) and healthy fats will keep your body running smoothly while you’re running around this December!
Time saving recipes hacks will also help you get those five extra minutes in bed before work in the morning, and we all know that a decent night’s sleep is vital. Getting enough Zs helps your body repair after exercise, and ensures you have enough energy to tackle your trip to the gym as well as your trip to the shops to buy those last minute presents (both equally as exhausting!).
Don’t be too hard on yourself
At the end of the day, this time of year is all about enjoying yourself, so don’t feel guilty for having that extra mince pie, skipping your 5k for a shopping spree, or spending the day curled up on the sofa after the office Christmas party. Balance is important in sustaining a healthy lifestyle, so I hope that these tips help you keep active whilst still enjoying all of the winter wonders this year.
About the author: Natalie Metcalf is in charge of Marketing & Social Media at LoveRaw. Natalie has a passion for creating kick-ass content and can be found practising her yoga poses as she updates the LoveRaw Instagram feed.