About Me

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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Keeping Your Motivation Over the Winter Months

I've been approached by the team at SportsShoes who want to encourage people not to completely neglect exercise during winter, to give my top tips for maintaining exercise and diet over the winter months. 

We all know it's difficult to find the perfect time to run in winter - it's dark until 7.30/8am and by the time you get to 4pm it's dark again.   Most of us would prefer to stay in bed until it gets light or in the evening curl up on the sofa and watch TV.  When it's wet, cold and dark you really don't want to be outside running.  

A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar on coping with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  I've known for years that the best way to keep on top of my SAD is to exercise, outdoors as much as possible. 

So this post contains ideas for some of the things that have helped me in the past.  

If You Can Cope With Exercising Outside 

Any exercise in winter is better than none, even a 30 minute walk.  This was one of the reasons for getting the dog - not something that suits everyone but it's perfect for me as it forces me to go out even if I don't want to.  The dog has to be walked so out we go.  In fact some of our best walks have been in the winter, especially on snowy days when it's been a bit too slippy underfoot for running.

For the last two years I've taken part in Janathon - a great way to keep you motivated by pledging to run or exercise in some form every day  for the whole of January, logging on Running Free and blogging your achievements on a daily basis.   There's a leaderboard showing who's doing what and that certainly motivated me - targeting other participants to beat in miles or time spent. 

This winter I was hoping to take part in Jantastic (run by the guys at Marathon Talk) but that's not going to be possible now.  Pledge to run a certain amount of miles throughout January, February and March as a member of a group and log it on the Jantastic site. 

Exercise kit is also important during the winter months - after a couple of winters of getting it wrong and overheating and looking like the Michelin Man my top tips for clothing are as follows :-

  • Compression wear under normal long sleeve running tops and tights.
  • Long sleeve tops with another vest top over that on the coldest days
  • A running jacket - mine was a cheapy from Karrimor - good for keeping tissues and discarded gloves in pockets
  • A head torch is on my essential kit list - last winter I managed to run further and only because I bought a head torch for running through those dark, unlit areas of town
  • a buff, or similar scarf
  • high vis kit - a bib and snap bands
  • A headband to keep your ears warm or a beanie if you can cope with wearing one!
  • Gloves - although mine usually come off after 5 minutes

My top tip though - get yourself a training partner!   Someone who has similar goals and fitness level.  There will be no excuse to not run!  I have however learnt that I prefer to train alone.

Booking a spring race could keep you motivated to keep training - I booked Brighton Half Marathon for last February and it certainly helped to motivate me to get out as and when I could.  I actually found out I enjoy running in the rain, providing it's not freezing cold.

If You Really Can't Cope with Going Out Out! 

There's nothing wrong with exercising at home.  There are some great bits of kit - I bought an Airwalker (like a X Trainer but takes up far less room in my attic room).  Last Christmas I bought my husband a turbo trainer for use during the winter months and I will be using that as well during this winter as part of my recovery and fitness build up.

I've also got a small library of fitness DVDs and the Wii has been known to come out during the winter months when I really couldn't face going outside, and of course there are swiss balls, free weights and kettlebells. 

If you're feeling flush and can cope with it - get to your local gym.  Personally, I'm not keen on gyms in January, they're full of New Years Resolutions.  In the past I've spent more time waiting to use machines at the gym than I've spent working out, and there are always lots of classes to choose from.

I'm no expert on diet (I know what I should be doing but I find it hard to lose weight when I can't exercise properly) - I'm trying to follow all the rules of avoiding refined sugar and processed foods but it's very hard.  I try to eat as much fruit and veg as I can and have protein at every meal and eat a small amount of carbs.  I found out at the SAD seminar that the current recommendations for daily fruit and veg intake is between 5 & 7 different vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit.   I find the best way for me is to not deprive myself of anything - if I fancy some chocolate or a glass or two of wine I have it and worry about it later. 

So there is actually no need to lose fitness over the winter - workout indoors if you really can't face it and run outside at the weekends if you can.  

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