It is a select few who have the privilege of being full-time athletes, and I’m quickly learning the hard way since recently qualifying as a Junior Doctor a month ago. As the dark nights loom ahead, and the race season dwindles, sometimes our motivation can too. So what’s the best way to keep motivated through the winter, carry on progressing and avoid piling on the pounds? Here’s some tips:
1) Have a little break. Racing throughout the season takes its toll both physically and mentally. Make sure you’re feeling refreshed before going into attacking the winter workload.
2) Have a plan. What would you like to achieve next season? How are you going to get there? What do you need to work on? This is where a coach can come in handy, to help guide you on the best way for you to achieve your goals and hold yourself accountable. Often wintertime can be a good opportunity to work on your strength in the gym or build a good base endurance.
3) Consistency is key. There is always going to be times where work/family/social events come up that mean you might have to change your training round one week, but on the whole, having a routine where you can, will help. In the winter I try to get my sessions done on the way to and from work, because I know as soon as I walk through the door and sit on the sofa it’s game over. Try to find a routine that works for you, and you’re more likely to stick to it when the going gets tough. Make it easier for yourself, whether that’s commuting to work on your bike, setting up an indoor trainer, running in a training group with friends or just promising yourself ten minutes in the sauna after a swim session – if you can look forward to something about training you are much more likely to get it done.
4) Make sure you’ve got the right kit. A bike that’s falling apart and a sweaty ‘boil-in-the-bag’ waterproof is not going to make it enticing to get out the door when the weekend finally comes around, and unsurprisingly the forecast is constant rain until you get back to your desk on Monday morning. Do your riding mates a favour too and pop some proper mudguards on your bike for winter, they’ll appreciate it as much as you.
5) Fuel right. When daylight is so limited, training on weekdays can often mean cramming sessions in straight before and after work. Nothing quite puts you off a session like being hungry beforehand. Make sure you eat well throughout the day, and I always keep a stash of caffeine shots, GO energy bars, electrolyte tablets and rego recovery sachets in the car to make sure that I’m never caught short! During the winter I also use Vitamin D supplements, and take Vitamin C effervescent tablets and iron to keep myself healthy for the workload ahead.