Winter Training

If you’re an endurance athlete, training through the coldest months can often take a hit in favour of the warm front room and a sofa...

While rest and recovery is an important part of everyone’s training schedule, you don’t want to be undoing all your hard work from the previous year, and feel like your starting from scratch in spring.

To give yourself the best chance of getting through the winter as fit as possible, whilst avoiding seasonal ailments, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep training all year round

Here are seven ways to stay in top condition through the winter months:

1. Get Focused

Envisage where you want your fitness to be next season and work backwards, writing a training plan that works towards this goal will take the guess work out of training and keep you on track.

Going further, faster or being generally fitter can generally be broken down in to efficiency and strength, and it’s important to plan specific training sessions that will help improve these areas.

2. Boost your Mitochondria

While winter hibernation appeals, a sedentary lifestyle can actually reduce your overall energy levels, leaving you feeling even less like exercising

The more you move, the more energy you make. This is thanks to the production of mitochondria, known as the ‘power house’ part of cells that turns foods and oxygen into cellular energy.

When we exercise, we increase the number of mitochondria in the specific muscle group that is being used – so the more mitochondria you have, the more energy you can generate and the faster and longer you can exercise.

Other ways to boost mitochondria are to reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates, while increasing Magnesium, B-vitamins, L-Carnitine, Creatine, Omega 3, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Resveratrol are said to have mitochondria supporting properties too.

3. Get Strong

Hit the gym to lift weights and strengthen your core. Adding strength training to your routine can really help iron out any niggles, aches and pains you suffered mid-season, as well as helping to up your power and help maintain your form when you tire and exhaustion kicks in.

Adding resistant training to your routine will also help improve bone density, prevent injury, develop lean body mass as well as increasing your metabolism.

4. Try something different

Winter is the ideal opportunity to try a new sport, or add a new dimension to your training. Cross country skiing is great for all round fitness and strength, while yoga or Pilates is perfect for building core strength and flexibility.

It’s also a great time of year to instil new habits, so try adding a stretching and foam rolling routine to your day to help prevent injury, or even work on your mental health by building in meditation or mindfulness time to help lower stress levels.

5. Have a plan B

The key to maintaining fitness through even the coldest of winters is not panic or give up on training completely when you get thrown a curve, or should that be snow, ball. Being flexible in training can be your biggest asset.

If you planned a long run, ride or swim and you got snowed in, don’t sweat it. Just change it up and adjust your training plan to get it in later in the week, or hit the home trainer. There are so many indoor training options these days that you can work out for just as long or hard without even having to open your own front door.

6. Look after yourself

Winter can be hot bed for germs and while we all know it’s not actually the cold weather making us sick, a combination of cooler temperature loving bugs, being indoors and in close contact with sick people, raised stress levels and even constant overeating can affect your immune system.

Prevention is always better than cure, so ensure that you get plenty of good quality sleep, wash your hands regularly, eat well and up your intake of good quality vitamins and minerals to help ward off winter illnesses.

7. Eye on the prize

Entering events now for the up and coming season will really help you maintain focus and keep you motivated throughout the winter months.

Everything from committing to a team, signing up for a race, or even planning ahead for personal bests can be enough to get you off the sofa and out training on the days when you struggle to put your kit on.

Teaming up with a training buddy can be really beneficial as you can encourage each other to get out and moving knowing that you both have a goal to train for.

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