We’re a month into the new year. Are you still on the fitness resolution bandwagon?
Or does winter make you question your resolve to get out of bed, depart the warmth of your house and fight the environmental conditions to get through another workout?
Shorter periods of daylight, plummeting temperatures, brisk winds, blankets of snow, sheets of ice and a possible drop in mood are chief among the adversities athletes face each winter.
If you’re struggling to rekindle motivation and conquer the climate like a winter warrior, here are a few tips that may help.
If you find yourself arguing with your inner voice about getting to the gym in the wee morning hours, pondering if there is time to squeeze in some midday mileage or questioning your resolve to get in a post-work workout, STOP IT. This is a form of daily resistance. In “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield writes “the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
Resistance is real; we have felt the lure of it at some point. You can talk yourself down from just about any endeavor. You have to decide that your goal is a worthy enterprise and make a conscious decision to stay committed to it regardless of what the wintry environs throw your way.
Resolutions & Visualization
Growing up, I disliked resolutions for the personal belief that if you wanted to change something in your life, you would do it without assigning a specific date. However, I have come to appreciate resolutions as a gateway.
If you have made a resolution to get fit, raise funds for a charity or accomplish a specific goal (i.e., Couch-to-5K, running a marathon, completing your first triathlon, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, etc.), stick to it and use the power of imagery to help you. Think about the places you spend most of your time and leave yourself reminders. This will help you to think about your goal while you go about your daily grind and visualize yourself accomplishing it. Reminders could be anything from sticky notes, vision boards, photo collages, positive aphorisms and so forth, posted in your workspace, your wo/man-cave, home gym, car and anywhere else you may have moment to let your thoughts drift. Though it may sound silly, images and words are powerful. Find some that speak to you and your aspirations and compile them.
Sign Up Early to an Event
Because of the booming growth of marathons, ultramarathons, obstacle challenges, mud runs, CrossFit competitions and other various endurance events, we’ve seen entry registrations close out early. If you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, try out a triathlon or compete in your local CrossFit Games, then make this your year to get it done. Making the fiscal commitment to events well in advance increases the likelihood that you will commit to the days, weeks and months leading up to showtime.
Want to make this notion more of a treat? Sign up for an event in a warmer climate and treat yourself to some rest and relaxation. For the ultramarathoners, check out Run100s.com. Seeking a marathon? Hit up MarathonGuide.com. Want to conquer a triathlon? Check out Slowtwitch. Looking for something else running related? Browse the race listings at RunningintheUSA. Personal recommendation: Check out 8 Tuff Miles in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, every February; the post-race celebration is wonderful and the recovery drinks are delicious after the cross-island trek.
Regardless of where you go, be sure to leave yourself some time after an event to enjoy the better climate without the concerns of competing.
Make it a Joint Endeavor
If you find it hard to get through workouts on your own, consider linking up with a training partner or a training group. Check out your local running shops, community/gym bootcamps and CrossFit boxes for their winter warrior groups. The November Project is also a notable movement to check out. Social media has made it easier to find like-minded individuals in the pursuit of similar — if not the same — goals. A Facebook message may be all that stands between you and meeting your training partner in crime. Making the commitment to train with others makes it a lot more difficult to skip winter workouts. If you do decide to play hooky from your group we are not responsible if you get called out.
Social Media Integration
Before getting into this, I know you’re probably tired of reading posts about so-and-so’s latest workout. If you fall into the camp where you enjoy posting recent accomplishments, but don’t want to overwhelm everyone in your social network, simply adjust your target audience and share away. The implicit component of sharing your daily workouts revolves around accountability and support. You may find it motivating to give and receive kudos after a significant suffer-fest.
Consider joining a social network geared towards athletes. Strava, DailyMile and Garmin Connect are a few that come to mind. These platforms serve as the new-school training logs to help you track trends and offer potential workout plans. Additionally, Strava and DailyMile offer challenges (most mileage, vertical miles, etc.) that will keep you motivated to get moving. If you enjoy a bit of competitive banter among friends, it is easy to sign on and grind on. Though the work you do in the cold of winter will rely on your will, knowing that others are watching can keep you honest.
Mix it up
Get out and train somewhere new. Explore a new park, a new trail network, a new gym or another new venue. Integrate hills, sprints or weight training to avoid going stale in the same environment or doing the same things. By changing up our training, we gain an appreciation of both the old and new. You may find a new weakness to improve or meet new athletic partners. Mixing up your routine will help you make forward progress toward your goal(s).
If you decided to commit to slugging it out for the winter, master the art of dropping the excuses. Take solace in the fact that the weather sucks for everyone getting outdoors. Personally, I abhor cold weather. I would rather wear board shorts and flip-flops. But that is not the way of the world. We need to struggle through adversity in our personal journeys in order to make worthy enterprises a reality.
I will leave you with one more quote from “The War of Art”:
“We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/children/teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know. We pass through a membrane. We become monsters and monstrous.”
We’d like to hear more of your thoughts. Drop your feedback, comments and suggestions for staying motivated during the winter in the comment box below.
Become a monster and do work. #beastmode #engaged
Former Marine Capt. Mosi Smith, is the race director of the Endless Summer 6-Hour Run in Annapolis, Md., which benefits the Semper Fi Fund. Mosi is a certified coach through USA Track & Field and Road Runners Club of America and was the assistant coach of the U.S. Naval Academy marathon team. Read his full credentials here.