It’s the most wonderful time of the year for spending time with loved ones and for setting new goals for the year. That said, sometimes our health and fitness can take a backseat during the colder months of the year.
Find your why
As the seasons change, so too should your goals. Determining your purpose for maintaining your fitness during the winter months offers an excellent starting point. Your why could be one of the following:
- To counteract winter weight gain
- To help your mood
- To stay healthy
- To get you ready for a spring marathon
- To socialize with your friends
Next, it’s time to create goals that align with your why. People are more likely to stick with a plan if they set S.M.A.R.T. goals. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “I’d like to run longer and faster,” if you take the S.M.A.R.T approach it would look something like this, “I’d like to be able to run a 5k in under 26 minutes by March 28th.”
In other words, your goal now becomes specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused and time bound. Once you’ve come up with your big picture S.M.A.R.T goal, you can then work backward and set smaller milestones in order to achieve it. It’s also a good idea to plan on celebrating small wins. This will help you to stay motivated on your fitness journey.
Pay closer attention to safety
Shorter days during winter may create a safety concern if you’d like to get your workout done outdoors. Fortunately, there are several precautions you can take to ensure you put safety first. As discussed on this episode of the Another Mother Runner Podcast, it is very important let drivers know you are a person (not a car or a bicycle).
- Get knuckle lights
- Wear highly reflective gear
- Use safe earbuds or headphones. Be sure to get those that allow you to hear what you're playing on your phone and also your surroundings.
Other safety tips include running with a partner, varying your routes and running against traffic.
Switch up your routine
Even the most committed (even crazy) fitness buff can have a hard time getting outside when it is so dark and cold in the mornings and evenings. If you find that this is a frequent challenge for you, consider exercising from the comfort (and warmth!) of your own home. You can use equipment such as kettlebells, free weights or a jump rope. Or you can do a workout DVD or even a virtual coaching session. Fitness expert, Jessica Smith has a host of free workouts, including pilates, barre and even indoor walking! Check them out HERE.
You can also consider swimming at your local community center or other indoor activities like rock climbing during winter.
These indoor workouts offer great cross-training opportunities for runners who want to avoid injury.
Revamp your playlist
Music has the power to energize and motivate you, and it just makes your workout more fun! You can make a playlist of your favorites, or check out some that have already been curated, like these workout favorites from Spotify. If you want to get into the spirit of the season, Shape magazine also has an awesome playlist of holiday songs you will want to run to and will let you hang on to the holiday spirit a tad bit longer.
You might also consider incorporating podcasts now and then to switch things up. There are many different genres to choose from e.g. leadership, personal development or wellness.
RELATED: Best podcasts to listen to while running - health and wellness edition
Get online support
There are many opportunities to find workout programs and challenges that are specific to the seasons. These offer tons of resources to help ensure you come out on the other side of winter feeling better than ever. For example, blogger, Gina Harney (aka The Fitnessista), has a great winter workout guide that you can follow along with to stay fit and motivated.
Get support IRL
Apart from online support, you may also need a workout buddy in real life (IRL). Finding an accountability partner offers a win-win because you can catch up with a friend or loved one while you both stay fit.
During winter, you might find that you are more thirsty or that you start to crave warm “comfort foods”. Instead of resisting, try to go with the flow. But, at the same time, do your best to incorporate more nutrient-rich foods, especially seasonal ones. Balance is important year-round but especially during the winter holiday season when you may be tempted to eat all the treats.
Consider your emotional fitness too
Sometimes exercise alone isn’t enough to fight the winter blues. That’s why it’s also important to focus on your mental health during this time. If possible, schedule in some downtime to rest and prepare for Spring.
Another great tip is to ensure that you brighten up your surroundings during winter to boost your mood. Opening up all the blinds and curtains or even using a light box are some options to consider. Getting as much sun as possible is the idea with these options.
Get the right gear
If you are running outdoors for your winter workout, be sure to protect yourself with the right gear. Apart from wearing hats, gloves and possibly even a balaclava, don’t neglect your legs and feet. Our compression sleeves, are excellent all year round but especially in the winter when blood flow is constricted. Compression gear will aid in muscle recovery and help you to avoid common winter running injuries such as blisters.
Now, we’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to stay on track with your fitness during the winter? Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with us on Facebook or Instagram!