It’s that time of year again when the season starts to swing a little and you notice that the air is different, the sun sets and rises at different times, you start looking for “other” clothes and your internal body clock starts adjusting. And it’s also probably the end of a long summer down South, a lot of races under the belt and you’re looking forward to a little bit of downtime. And then it’s winter…
The time in between an end-of-summer downtime and the start-of-winter-get-going again is usually a great time to touch base, reconnect, revisit your goals, plan the year ahead and kick back your training a little – or completely. The one thing you need to keep in mind is the momentum required to gear up again.
We all know those first few weeks are going to be hard- that’s a given. What adds to the harshness of re-introducing yourself into the winter regime is, well, winter itself. It’s way colder than you can ever remember- suddenly heading out the door at 5am in a pair of shorts and vest doesn’t cut it. And it’s dark. Really dark. And it gets dark really early too. This weighs heavily on even the most disciplined and well-intentioned athlete and letting a couple sessions slide seems too easy to do…
So why not work with your psyche and plan ahead to give yourself the best advantage you can- start your winter training now, in autumn. “Whoa! What?!” I hear you say. “I thought the whole point of downtime was NOT to train?!” Exactly, you don’t actually have to train -every single session, or any for that matter- but if you setup your schedule now and attend the training session at least (even just for a couple of minutes), the shock to your system won’t be as great.
So, for example, if you plan on doing 5am runs every other day of the week in winter, wake up at 5am every other day during your downtime. Step outside, watch the sunset (or the stars), grab a cup of tea and maybe just walk around the block. Nothing heavy. You’re not officially training, remember. This way, come winter and it’s time to really start, that first month is not going to be daunting.
Likewise, if you plan on doing that early Sunday morning ride starting at 6am, don’t sleep in on Sundays during your downtime. Wake up at 6am. Smell the roses, watch the rain (or the frost settle). Get used to it. You can still go back to bed and read or sleep again. Prepare yourself gently.
Of course, some people have the ability to just switch on and off “just-like-that” between on and off seasons- if you one of those, just keep doing what you’re doing and maybe assign yourself Captain A** Kicker for first month of winter and be a good buddy- get your training partners going!