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Winter training can be tough. Pro triathlete Phil Graves has some tips to help you stay motivated

5 Ways To Get Through To Spring

Winter is nearly here, and we all know that means dark nights, cold rides and runs, and lots of warming up in the shower with hands and feet burning up as blood returns to them! Here are five tips to help you get through to spring.

1. Enter lots of races

Even the best of us experience a drop in motivation during the never ending winter months. A lot of the time, it seems like we’re training just to tick over until the weather gets better and we can start racing again. But why can’t you race over winter? A lot of the best racing starts just as the nights start to draw in: hill climbs, cross-country runs, cyclocross races and duathlons, to name just a few.

In the past week I’ve come up with my winter racing schedule – one that sees me racing local, what I’d regard as ‘fun’, races nearly every weekend. I find that in winter, the long, easy miles are fine but it’s hard to do intense efforts. If you race lots, you can build on what you achieved the previous summer and it keeps your motivation high. You can train from race to race and see improvements, rather than training all winter and hoping that in the spring you’ll find you’ve improved.

2. Have a long-term goal

Most of you will have a key race at the back of your mind for 2014, be it an Ironman, a 70.3, a qualifying race to make the Great Britain Age-Group Team or just your local race. As you go through winter, keep that race at the front of your mind. It’s what all your training and racing should be geared towards, and it should give you much more motivation. You don’t want to forget about your long-term goal, come to May and think, “Oh my God, I’ve got Ironman UK in two months!”.

3. Train abroad

If you can treat yourself to a week somewhere warm, do it. Training somewhere where it isn’t 5°C and snowing can give you a huge fitness boost and will definitely get you through the winter a lot easier. Plus, if you have a family and can take them with you, not only will they appreciate it but it’ll get them off your back for a few weeks when you get back so that you can stay on the training bandwagon! I’m really not sure why people go somewhere warm in summer when the weather is perfectly tolerable at home, and then stay in the UK all winter. Surely it would make sense to stay at home in summer and enjoy the weather, and then in winter, when it’s Baltic, go somewhere nice and warm?

4. Treat yourself to something in the end-of-season sales

New kit always makes us smile and gives us that little bit of extra motivation – something that’s much-needed over winter. Be it a new bike or just a new pair of cycling shoes, even the smallest thing can make training over winter much more tolerable.

5. Don’t miss out on the festivities

Finally, winter also means two other things: Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy yourself. It’s all well and good training as much as you can, but remember – there are more important things in life. Go to that office party. Don’t begrudge the mother-in-law coming round to drop off presents when you want to go for a run. Just enjoy it, and make sure you eat and drink much more than is good for you!

There we go. I hope that helps you all through winter and into spring without converting to an indoor sport like volleyball or darts! Happy training…

You can find more winter triathlon training articles here