Winter training tips

It's getting colder and we are losing the light, which doesn't help the motivation levels for training over winter, right?

But if you're tempted to hit the snooze button again and again in the morning or dig deeper under your toasty warm duvet, remember this – staying motivated this winter requires a change to one thing only and that is your mindset.

Sure, the conditions encourage eating more and doing less, but the foundation of motivation is based on two things: (1) Having a goal or target to aim for, (2) Clearly understanding the positive effects your actions will have on your life.

Connect with these two forces and you will always be inspired to continue with your efforts during this upcoming winter break.

Here are some useful tips to help you stay focused and on course to achieving your goals despite the winter wobblies:

1. Set yourself goals

Set a goal with some specific details, whatever you do not be vague in your description of this goal.

Open ended goals allow for a way out of the approach to achieving them! A useful example would be to lose 3 kilos in bodyweight or a two percent reduction in body fat between May and August.

If you have to then paste a photo of that bikini you want to buy on the fridge door to motivate you and each time you see it (knowing very well that each day that passes brings you closer to hitting the beach this summer) you are going to be keen to close that fridge door and grab your gym bag instead.

There's nothing like a picture to motivate you. Whatever image works for you, stick it up where you'll see it every day.

2. Train for an event

There is nothing like having an immediate goal to work towards and to keep you focused and on track with your training.

Winter brings with it a few classic events so go find one! It could be the Vic Falls Marathon or your local XTrain Event and all you need to do is enter it and you have committed yourself to training for it.

Winter is the perfect time for running training, too, because it’s not too hot.

3. Work with a trainer

Coaches and Trainers are the masters of motivation and this winter can be a great time to invest in one. Can't afford a personal trainer?

Then join a group class and get motivated alongside others in the same boat as you. It is great to inspire one another to carry on through winter.

4. Focus on the benefit

The gravitational pull of the bed is colossal at 6am, it simply engulfs your whole body and drags you in deeper and deeper, especially when it is cold and dark outside.

That's why you need to remind yourself of the benefits that exercise brings you.

You want to manage your stress levels, have an abundance of energy and feel good about yourself rather than falling asleep at your desk, feeling overwhelmed and overweight.

So get a piece of paper and write down all the ways exercise adds to the quality of your life and to those around you.

Post it on your fridge, on your desktop, on your bathroom mirror and read it regularly, particularly when you are feeling flat.

5. Learn to embrace the cold spells

How about this? Instead of avoiding the cold, rather embrace it. The famously disciplined Shaolin monks train in any conditions because it develops, builds and strengthens character.

You don't have to retreat to the Himalayas, but rather getting outside for some fresh air and open space will be good for your mind as well as your body. The freshness of a crisp winters morning is simply invigorating.

6. Reward yourself

When you reach your goal, reward yourself. Not with a 1kg chocolate brownie, but preferably with something special like a new outfit for your new body or even better....enter another event and keep going!

There's nothing like working towards a goal, achieving it, then splashing out to say: "Well done me".

*Ex-Zimbabwe rugby international Grant Mitchell is High Performance Director at Innovate High Performance Centre in Harare and a top strength and conditioning coach.

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