Rather than winter being a downer, it’s an excellent opportunity to change things up and prepare for next season.
Now that winter has landed, it’s time to pause, reflect and adapt. With recognition and acceptance of the shorter and colder days, we can adapt and turn winter into an opportunity.
Now is a good time to pause, to take stock of where you are at, and how your body is doing. Do you have any injuries or niggles that need attending to? How are you feeling mentally? Inspired, flat or tired?
It’s also good to now reflect on how the season went, what went well, what could have been better, and how you’d like to do things differently next season. If you have a coach, sit down with him or her and review your efforts this year and discuss how to plan for next year. You could also sit down and analyze the training data captured by your Suunto watch and see what insights you can find.
Pausing and reflecting like this will suggest how you might like to adapt over winter. Ask yourself what would serve you – body and mind – the best in the coming months?
But before you begin, we are going to jump the gun and give you a few suggestions on how to make this your best winter ever.
Make winter goals
Making goals gives us direction and purpose. There’s no reason to drop making them over winter. After you have paused, reflected and adapted, create new goals for your winter. Write them down, tell your friends and family, and set to work fulfilling them.
Go to physiotherapy
If you suffered an injury, or have a niggle that comes and goes, now is the time to take care of it. Book a block of appointments at a sport physiotherapist, and get to the bottom of it. Make whatever your physio advises your main mission in the coming months. If he or she gives you exercises to do each day, do them!
Work on technique
Reducing your training volume means you have more time to exclusively focus on the finer points of your sport. If you’re a runner, dedicate the winter to improving your running efficiency and technique. You could do regular 20 minute treadmill runs, for example, and focus on form.
Your body has been your trusty work horse all year. Reward it by getting massaged. There are all sorts of massage styles; Shiatsu, Lomi Lomi, sports massage, Thai, Swedish etc. Why not try a few? We suggest getting at least three massages over the off season. Your body will thank you for it.
Winter is a great time to focus on strength training. Join the gym, buy yourself some weights, or sign up for an online fitness course on core power. You don’t need to go hard. Just do a little each week over the off season and it will pay dividends come spring.
Try something new
Learning new forms of movement is good for the body and mind. You develop new skills and capacities you didn’t know you had. It also gives your body a break from your usual movement patterns, while keeping it in shape. Sign up for a boxing course, for example, learn cross country skiing, join a social team sport or go indoor regularly.
Escape to training camp
If slowing down and pivoting to other things isn't how you roll, then why not head to warmer climes where you can keep training like a beast? There are some great places around the world that offer training camps and warmer weather.
Focus on eating well
When the off season arrives, it’s often the case our nutrition plan goes out the window. Especially with Christmas and New Year, it’s easy to eat too much of the wrong stuff and gain weight that you have to shed later. While it’s good to allow yourself to enjoy, try focusing on eating well this winter. You could focus on eating seasonally, try being a weekday vegetarian, or learn how to cook a particular style of cuisine.
Swim and sauna
Swimming regularly is incredibly good for the body. It tones the muscles, improves strength, and is a good cardio workout while causing no impact on the joints. Try swimming two or three times a week this winter. If you’re not a strong swimmer, consider getting a couple of swimming lessons and developing your technique. Once you’ve done your laps, hit the sauna and sweat it out.
Practice restorative yoga
One of the best ways to give the body and mind the deep release they need is by doing restorative yoga. This style of yoga is all about slowing down and holding easy poses for longer than usual and with the support of comfortable props. This approach invites deep muscular release and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing us back to homeostasis, or a state of relaxation. Try to attend six restorative classes this off season. Yoga helps Emelie Forsberg find the flow.
Dark, grey and rainy days week after week can get uninspiring. Counter this by dosing up on adventure and training inspiration. Read uplifting biographical books, listen to podcasts about training and your sport, and watch films and documentaries that spark your imagination. Find local meetups or clubs for your sport and connect with others who are on the same path as you.
Lastly, sleeping more can help you become a better runner. So consider how you can catch some extra winks this winter. Day time power naps have been shown to be immensely beneficial.