How Best Can I Train Through a Lock Down Winter? 8 Tips to Keep you at Peak Performance
I find when it starts to get dark at only 3.30pm and I can see the snow on the hills from the living room window, sometimes my motivation for training really starts to drop. At the weekend when it is bright and chilly I love to run up a hill, get out on my mountain bike still or go swimming on a Sunday morning at the beach. But on the wet, windy and in Scotland what we call ‘dreich’ weather I feel much less like getting out there. So I have my road bike set up in the hall on the turbo trainer, I tend to do more yoga following online tutorials and if the gym is open I will go to a spin class. But what do the experts recommend and what are the best tips for training through winter, especially this year with lockdown stopping us meeting up for group activities and most of us finding the gyms are closed again? And how can we keep ourselves in peak performance and ready for a better 2021?
"plan Christmas in to get a week of recovery"
I found that the experts tend to agree on the best ways to train through winter to keep you in peak performance and no matter what your main sport is most of them can be applied as basic principles. To start with you need to know what you are training for and what your long term goals is. Then you can design your training plan building with the best advice being to mix mileage with intensity and allow plenty of recovery time and listen to your body. When you do get outside make safety a priority and check you have all the essential with you when you head out in winter weather. Mix up your training and consider some cross training alongside some activities that will make it fun and keep your spirits up. Have a smart indoor plan too that is well organised and effective. Think about fuelling and hydrating your body properly. And lastly plan Christmas in so you get a week of recovery to make sure you can enjoy it properly without worrying about your winter training plan!
So here we go here are our 8 Tips to Keep You in Peak Performance and answer the question ‘How best can I train through a lock down winter?’.
- Set Your Goal
- Plan Your Training
- Mix it Up for Fun
- Stay Safe
- Smart Indoor Training
- How to Cope with Christmas
- Look After Yourself
- Go With the Flow
1. Set Your Goals
First, you need to stop and think about why you are training? What is the goal of your training? Do you have events planned for next year? Do you just want to stay fit and healthy? Do you want to be faster, fitter or stronger than this year? Next you need to consider where you are now. Have you had injuries this year? How is your current fitness? What has worked well for you and what hasn’t? What is it that you really need to work on to achieve what you have in mind? Taking all this into account you then need to think through a realistic goal for the next year or season. Don’t be afraid to make it challenging but not to the point where it is really unlikely to happen. Now actually write it down. Get your goal pinned up somewhere that you regularly see it. Tell you family or friends about it to give yourself some accountability to try and achieve it.
2. Plan Your Training
Now you have set your goal you need to work out what training you need to do to achieve it. Get out your diary and count the number of weeks until your main event of the year or a date when you want to hit your new peak performance. Next you need to work out a rough plan of how much training and what types of training you are going to do between now and then. If you are aiming for an event like a marathon or a sportive there are lots of online planners you can take a look at to help you build up if it is your first time. If you are already a seasoned athlete then the best advice is to build a plan that slowly increases the intensity and duration of your training until a couple of weeks before your key date. Think about your areas of weakness and build in sessions to try and improve on it whether it is strength training or sprint training for example. Make sure to build in plenty of recovery time after hard training sessions as you body needs time to adapt after you push it or it won’t thank you and you won’t get the results you are looking for.
3. Mix It Up for Fun
Training during winter can get monotonous if we don’t mix it up a bit and make sure we do some things that are fun and give us some joy. We don’t want to be dragging ourselves out for the same run on the same streets in the dark. Mix up your training sessions getting in both high intensity and longer mileage by thinking through the time you have available and what fits best on different days. You might find it best to get your longer rides in at the weekend when you can get outside and perhaps get some shorter or inside based high intensity training done during the week. Whatever you do make sure it fits around work and family life as you don’t want your training to become a stressor for you or them! To have more fun you could mix your sports a bit and try something different - if you normally road cycle how about a bit of mountain biking or if you run on roads, could you find a forest at the weekend. You can even cross train and like a triathlete mix up your activities to give you a change, break it up with 30 minutes of running and 30 minutes of cycling.
4. Stay Safe
When you do venture out make sure to stay safe and try to avoid any extremes such as ice and snow which make it much more likely you will have an accident and end up injured. If you are out in the dark make sure you are well lit up with good lights and a fluorescent jacket. Take your phone with you, any spare kit you might need and emergency food supplies. Pack up a warm layer such as a light duvet jacket and waterproof. You never know what might happen but if you do have an accident or hurt yourself you want to be able to stay warm and raise the alarm.
5. Smart Indoor Training
These days there is so much more choice of options for training inside. Many of us have a turbo trainer at home or even a treadmill. There are options to link to great Apps like Zwift to that can simulate all kinds of training sessions. If you get stuck you can always try out an online workouts with the likes of Joe Wicks or Yoga with Adrienne. Other cheap and easy indoor training solutions include doorway pull-up bars, exercise balls, dumb bars, kettle bells, skipping ropes, resistance bands and mini trampolines. You can make your own mini gym with only a few simple pieces of equipment and although it might not replace your usual workouts it can help keep your fitness up. Having good hydration and a fan can also be a help to avoid overheating if you are in your home. Working on your core strength is something many of us fail to do regularly and winter can be a good time to get into a routine.
6. How to Cope with Christmas
How best to deal with Christmas is you have a training programme and are worried about struggling to motivate yourself again afterwards? The best solution for this is to make sure you plan the Christmas week as a recovery week and plan the previous week with a couple of high intensity sessions. Do make sure to stop and enjoy yourself at Christmas there is plenty of time to get back on track again in the New Year. Try not to get too carried away with all the mince pies and Christmas cake and eat healthily on the days when you are not celebrating in full swing. Maybe after Christmas if you have a few days off you might find the time to get some longer mileage training in during the day light.
7. Look After Yourself
I you don’t feel fully well or have a cold coming on, stop and listen to your body. You are the expert on what is best for you. Training when you are ill will not do you any good and could increase the time you are ill for. Never train if you have symptoms below the neck with a cold or infection. Good hand hygiene, eating a well balanced diet, sleeping at least 7 to 8 hours a night and avoiding overly long training sessions can all help keep you healthy through winter. It is also best to plan in a recovery or adaptation week every 2 to 3 weeks where you do more gentle activity. After an intense training session your muscles might ache, known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which tends to peak 2 to 3 days after and slowly dissipate between 8 to 10 days after a hard workout. The aching is a sign of inflammation of the muscle and connective tissue as they adapt to the increased intensity or load they are able to withstand. Massage can sometimes help reduce the pain but you want to avoid using anti-inflammatory painkillers if possible as the inflammation is a necessary process to get improved muscle fitness.
8. Go With the Flow
Sometimes you just need to get out there so even if there is snow lying on the ground, wrap up warm and go for a hike or run. Find your local hill and have a good leg stretch to get your heart pumping. If it snows it can be magical just to be outside and it brings out the child in all of us! The cold air will lift your spirits and give your mindset a boost to get you back on track for the next week.
So I hope these top tips keep set you on course to being 2021 with a training plan and peak performance mind set in place. I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and enjoy what ever you get up to and whatever the weather is!
It is not too late to order from our Christmas Shop where we have some very special offers for you. Our anti-chafing Sport Body Balm makes a great present for anyone family or friend who is sporty or wanting to start getting fit.