Brrr, baby it’s cold...how can I stay motivated to train?
Rain, snow, sleet, hail, sub-zero temperatures...who could ever find the motivation to train in such conditions? It’s not only difficult, but downright impossible to stay motivated when the winter months roll around and the weather is, quite plainly, garbage for cycling outdoors. With the majority of states across the country in the heart of winter, planning and executing workouts or even just getting out of your pajamas and out the door is like getting an angry cat into the veterinarian's office. Good luck with that.
We do have a little bit of luck to throw on your side in the form of the single handedly three best winter motivation tips you can find on the interweb. Ok, maybe there are other ones, but these have been tested and are tried and true to turn even the slightest inclination of motivation into a full-blooming winter, training rose…
1. Make a training schedule and stick to it - Treat it like having a doctor or dentist appointment that you know you can’t miss or else your body, and therefore health, will fail you. Create whatever form of calendar works best for you; a flip one, the summer inspiring monthly pictorial kind, an old fashioned handwritten kind on graph paper, on your phone, computer, a scratch piece of paper...you get the picture. Just make one! And make it at least a week in advance. If you have it written down somewhere, you’re much more likely to follow through despite the harsh conditions outside.
2. Keep it short and sweet - Daylight is of the essence during winter, so don’t try to slog through hours of training in the dark and cold. Your body and mind will hate you for that. Instead, opt for quick, more intense workouts that get your heart rate up in a short amount of time and then get you back inside. Make sure to warm-up before going all out, but try to keep it simple and not overly complicated. Our brains tend to have trouble thinking clearly when the mercury drops, so 60-90 minutes is plenty of time to get a solid workout in even when you can’t feel your fingers and toes.
3. On that note, dress properly - Even if you’re only going out for a short amount of time, you want to be as comfortable as possible. Don’t skimp on the clothing just because you’re not going to be outside for hours on end. You’re likely to start a little chilly, but if outfitted in the right kind of gear for your current weather conditions, your body will start to produce heat rapidly and your clothing will keep you insulated from the cold. This will lead to an enjoyable hour or so spent working out; you won’t go home in a frozen frustrated state, but happy you got the job done and excited for whatever you have lined up for the rest of the day.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. Winter is a challenging time for all cyclists, no matter your skill level or goals for the upcoming spring and summer seasons. Take the chance to embrace the challenge and fear of working out when it’s cold outside. Fear is oftentimes life’s biggest opponent; overcome your fear to get solid workouts in during the winter and once the snow thaws and the temperatures start to rise, you’ll be prime to take advantage of all that hard earned fitness you achieved when most people were too intimidated to even get a foot out the door.
Previously published in Bicycle Times.