Training in the colder months



The whole lacking motivation thing in Winter is a weird one. It’s 100% a head based thing. People deciding that the discomfort associated with being out while it’s dark, cold and or wet simply does not justify the rewards gained from it. I’ll make you a deal. If you want to hibernate over winter and do nothing, then during summer you need to behave like the good hibernating animal you are and eat all the pies. Fatten yourself up so you can survive your weeks of couch surfing with no food. Or… you could just change your mental approach and let go of your resistance to the fact that it is about to get dark, cold, and wet. 


Why the winter blues? Apart from the obvious goodness of the sun not being there, in my opinion, it really comes down to years of conditioning (our own and our social circles). We and others create the belief that the cold, wet, and dark of winter SUCK and therefor we simply can’t expose ourselves to it. How many times have you heard someone say or you’ve said yourself during winter, the weather is terrible, it’s dreadful outside, what a foul day etc etc. Very few just accept the season as is. Your way out? As far as I’m concerned accept the season for what it is and be prepared!


We moved from Sth Africa to Canada (summer to winter) when I was 8. We arrived, landed… Then prep was in full swing. I’m glad I don’t remember the looks on peoples faces as my Mum proceeded to dress us in full snow suits while still on the plane! Hahaha… That’s acceptance and preparation!


Ok, my tips:


  1. Embrace the Weather


When it’s warm, we embrace and accept it. We dress appropriately, sit out in the sun, go to the beach, swim, etc. Those who live where it snows a lot go skiing, climb mountains, build a snow man etc. They embrace and accept it. If it’s windy, they wind surf, kite surf, fly a kite etc. You get the picture. If you dress appropriately for your climate, the weather is a non event. In a lot of cases it actually adds to the enjoyment had. The point I’m getting at is the whole notion of “bad” whether is totally  in your head. A hurricane is bad, a drought is bad. Seasonal weather? It’s simply an opportunity to challenge yourself to embrace change, teach yourself to be prepared, and generally just toughen up buttercup. Seriously. If you let something simple and uncontrollable like the weather be a set back to your motivations levels and goals, life won’t have to throw much at you to stop your momentum toward achieving anything you may want. Sure it can make things harder at times, everyone accepts that. However it’s continued action, despite an unwanted challenge, that creates the mental toughness and the fuel for internal motivation that we all desire.


This is where conditioning steps in. It’s important to get this concept of conditioning and how you and your social circle including mostly your parents have affected your thought processes. Studies have shown that young girls with eating disorders and body image issues have mothers who are more vocal about the dislike of their own body image and how they should look/eat etc. They unknowingly push their dislike of themselves and lack of self-esteem on their unwilling daughters. A strong and sad example, but a good example nonetheless of how our comments and self talk affect the opinions (often lifelong) of those around us. So start saying to yourself (and your kids if you have them) whenever you look outside at the weather - “this is good too.” Then don’t go outside expecting the opposite of what you know you’ll experience!


2. Get Some New Gear


It’s obviously important to look amazing while training. Or you could just be sensible and make sure you have clothing that is practical for the activities you want to do whilst obviously getting proper apparel to face the weather. The investment should make you more motivated to use your new clothes too.


3. Set yourself up for success.


The force is strong with beds in the morning when dark, we’re warm and toasty and the weather outside clearly is not. You can’t lie there and think about it. Have your clothes ready the night before and as soon as the alarm goes off, get up and get dressed. Get a heater on, and feel warm and good about being up. While you're doing this, remind yourself of all the good you receive from doing what you do for yourself. You chose this. It’s not some cruel punishment. 


If you're an evening person, try to organise training straight after work. Clothes ready in the car and drive straight there. Again reminding yourself about how much better and more energised you feel for having done some exercise. 


The hardest one is being home before a session and then needing to leave for training late. If this is your situation, in my experience, you can’t let your head go in to relaxation mode. You need to keep at the forefront of your mind that you will be leaving again to train and once again, remind yourself why you do it!


4. Set a goal.


The last and most obvious is to set a goal that excites you. Not one that you feel will get you through but something you really want to achieve. That you know you’ll need to put in a solid effort for. A word of warning for this. Don’t set more than a few tops. Otherwise you’ll find yourself trying to achieve too many things and getting nowhere.


There you go! Embrace it, get some new gear, set yourself up for success, and set a goal to keep you moving in the right direction.