With a taste of cold temperatures, snow, and less than ideal conditions underfoot recently, (and the option of a fire in the fireplace) you may have found your motivation lagging to consistently get out there and adhere to your workout schedule. While we often think that motivation comes entirely from within the individual, it’s important to recognize that motivation is actually a function of both the individual (you) and the situation. To enhance your motivation over the winter months you’ll want to not only address the “You” part of the equation (i.e. Why do you exercise/train/compete? What can you do differently to stay on track? etc.) but also examine situational factors (e.g. training partners, the environment or facility where you train, gear choices) as these can play a role in your motivation as well.
Here are a few strategies that address both the personal and situational aspects of motivation that may help you to “Keep the Fire Burning” during the winter months. I figure that there are two ways to approach difficulties. Change the difficulties, or change yourself to meet them.
Look Around You. Are there things in the environment that can be changed to enhance your motivation? It may be that simple changes can be made that can have a positive influence on your drive to adhere to a healthy lifestyle. Here are some examples:
No Excuses: Just Solutions
If you’re not a fan of the winter weather elements in general, seek out and surround yourself with those who truly love the snowy, cold winter conditions… These folks may be skiers, snowboarders or skaters. Their passion for their sport and love of the season can truly be contagious. And you may just find yourself discovering a new sport yourself thanks to them!
Plan ahead and always have a hefty stash of healthy pre/post-workout snacks in your car for those days when you’re running late. Take care of yourself and don’t let hunger or low energy derail your plans, Bonus: no refrigeration needed!
Pack a small travel bag for your car as well. Fill it to the brim with additional layers of winter gear and accessories, so you’ll always have options on hand to choose from as weather conditions change over the course of the day.
Save your pennies and invest in just a few pieces of high quality cold weather gear. When you’re comfortable, safe and warm out there, you’ll be able to focus on the workout and enjoy it. This leads to consistency.
If you tend to get completely wrapped up in your work projects, set an alarm on your phone or watch to prompt you to wrap things up with plenty of time to spare so you can arrive on time for a workout with a buddy even in slower winter driving conditions.
Pop your hat, gloves and socks into the dryer for a few minutes before you head out the door to jumpstart your warm-up on cold days. Comfort leads to happy times out there.
Although there’s a wide range of changes that can be made on the personal level to enhance motivation, one stands out from the crowd during the winter months especially:
Flexibility with Workouts and Goals:
At this time of year it’s helpful to rid yourself of “Black and White” “All or Nothing” thinking and to realize that the purpose of many workouts may need to be adjusted depending upon the conditions, but that you don’t need to blow off the whole session. Icy footing and temps in the teens for example aren’t conducive to a solid speed work session. Let it go, but enjoy a longer, slower base run instead where you can focus on the beauty of the season around you and perhaps enjoy some reflective time alone. You can still keep things on track however by consistently identifying your daily training or workout goal with the purpose of every workout and how you’re going to benefit from it before you even head out the door. Once you know where you’re going, how you’re going to get there, and why, it’s a done deal!
Growing up, my Dad used to tell us:
“To be successful, you have to accept all of the challenges that come your way, not just the ones you like.”
True indeed, Dad. I think the man was onto something.