It’s cold, it’s dark and gyms are closed again.
But that doesn’t mean you have to pack away your trainers and your leggings for the next few months.
With another lockdown upon us, it’s more important than ever that we find ways to stay active and keep healthy. Exercise is invaluable for both our physical and mental health, so we need to find ways to keep going through the winter months.
Obviously, motivation is a problem. Jogging in the summer is one thing, but forcing yourself to go for a run when it’s freezing cold, raining and getting dark at 4 pm is another challenge altogether.
So, we have asked some fitness experts to share their tips for staying active all year round – whatever the weather.
CLIF® ambassador David Hellard, Professional Runner and Presenter of Bad Boy Running Podcast, believes that outdoor winter fitness is all about the right preparation:
Wear thin long-sleeved layers
I’t’s hard to get your temperature right in winter – you’ll be tempted to wrap up warm, but as you exercise you may start to overheat, so wear thin long-sleeve layers,’ says David.
‘The layers trap warm air, but can be easily wrapped around your waist when you start to overheat.’
Feed yourself for motivation
David says a little chemical boost in your diet can make a world of difference.
‘Looking out of the window into the cold and dark, it can be hard to motivate yourself to get outside, so take some caffeine 10-15 minutes before you intend to train (Black Cherry CLIF BLOKS® Energy Chews are my favourite) and you’ll be jumping out of your seat raring to go in no time.’
Train first thing in the morning
‘Many parks close in the afternoon and it gets dark so early, so get out first thing and see your surroundings in a completely different light,’ he suggests.
‘I lay out my kit at the foot of my bed so I’ve got no excuses for not getting out the door before the day gets away from me.
‘It’s beautiful seeing all the dew on the grass and mist of the morning and I can reward myself with a nutritious breakfast afterwards.’
We definitely like the sound of a reward breakfast after.
The playground is your playground
David says that you don’t need a gym to have an effective strength workout.
‘Get creative and use your body weight and surroundings instead,’ he says.
‘Benches are great for box-jumps and step-ups, slides can be used for sit-ups, while push-ups on a swing seat are great for your core.
‘Or, why not set yourself a run route, stopping every five minutes to find something near to use for another set of exercises?
‘It’ll be fun, varied and will keep you entertained.’
How to run outside on rainy days
If you’re a runner – or trying to be during lockdown – here are some tips for pounding the pavement during the colder, rainier months, compiled by the experts at NURVV Run.
Banish the chafe
Chafing can happen on any run but add rain and wet clothes into the mix and you’re more likely to get rubbing.
Lube up with some Vaseline or Body Glide pre-run. Apply it in the places you usually get chafing or blisters such as your inner thighs, under your arms, around your sports bra and on your feet.
Think of it as mental training
Not every run is going to be a crisp and sunny jog through the park and rainy runs will make you appreciate those dry ones even more.
The added challenge of wet weather and going out when you really don’t want to, is good mental training. It trains you to push through when the going gets tough – in the final miles of a race for example.
If you’re training for an event, it could be raining on race day, too. All those rainy training runs will mean you’re well prepared and know what kit and mindset work best for you in wet weather.
Visibility can be lower on rainy days so make sure you wear a bright layer or some reflective strips on your clothing to ensure cars can see you.
Get changed quickly
It might seem obvious, but as soon as you get in from a rainy run, strip off those clothes. Having wet clothes next to your skin lowers your body temperature.
Stuff wet shoes with newspaper to help them dry.
On race day
If you’re taking part in a running event on a rainy day, pack a bin bag to wear in the starting pens. Add some arm and neck holes and it’ll keep you warm and dry while you wait.
Take some older running shoes and socks and wear these before you check in your gear so you’re starting the race with dry feet. And don’t forget dry clothes, socks, shoes and underwear to travel home in.
Know when to take it indoors
While running in the rain can make you feel like Rocky, there are times when it’s just not good for you.
If there’s a thunderstorm, call it a day, you don’t want to get struck by lightning.
The same goes if you’re interval training or running at a faster pace – wet pavements can be slippy and will cause injury long-term.
How to stay motivated to work out in winter
Helen Murray, Eastnine coach, gives her top tips on keeping your motivation up even as the nights draw in and the temperature plummets.
Plan your week
‘Getting organised and plotting out when you might work out in advance will make you more likely to stick to your ambition to get moving that week,’ says Helen.
‘Sundays are the perfect time to plan. So, whether it’s a class or just a pocket of time – even 15 minutes when you know you can fit something in – schedule it into your diary, like you would a work meeting.’
Think about why you want to work out
So much of our day-to-day life can be out of control, and Helen says it can be easy to fall into a passive mindset.
‘Writing even just a few thoughts about what you want exercise to do for you, and how you feel afterwards can be really effective,’ she suggests.
‘Any time when you feel like you don’t want to leave your desk, or you’re too busy or can’t be bothered – take a look at those notes and you’ll be lacing up your trainers in no time.
‘Commitment to an ambition or end result can see you through days when motivation lets you down.’
Be good to yourself in the morning
‘Whether it’s getting up to go for a walk when the streets are still quiet, grabbing a ten minute meditation or stretch, or doing a quick strength session in between sipping a coffee – finding some time for you early in the morning can set you up for the day ahead,’ says Helen.
Lots of us think we’re not morning people, but Helen says getting into an earlier morning routine – even if it’s 10 minutes – can make a huge difference and become a habit quite quickly.
‘If you leave your “you time! until the end of the day, your mind will tell you a million reasons why you shouldn’t do that workout,’ she adds.
Get a support network
‘Whether it’s a friend you enlist to work out remotely with, the familiar faces of a regular class, or a coaching network app, having a sense of community and feeling a part of something (especially right now) can make all the difference to your likelihood of getting up and into your leggings,’ explains Helen.
‘We are naturally pack creatures, and we’re living in an unnatural time. Finding community through fitness can to some extent, replace what we’re missing in other parts of our life.’
Celebrate what you’ve achieved
After every workout, after every week, every month, Helen suggests that you track your progress and give yourself a pat on the back.
‘How you do this is up to you,’ she says. ‘It could be via a tracker like My Fitness Pal, ticks on a wall planner or via a workout app that updates you on your progress.
‘Taking stock and appreciating your hard work keeps you motivated for the next workout, so give yourself those gold stars.’
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