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Benefits of training in winter

Words: Andre Bekker

How often do you hear of Comrades runners that don't train for two or more months after the big C and then start training again with exactly the same goal as before? Why don't they improve and take it to the next level? In most cases, these runners did not reach their initial goal because they hadn't trained through the previous winter. In addition, with less time to train, they push too hard, too soon, and this often results in injuries and getting sick, which in turn means even less time to train. Had they trained through winter, chances are they would have attained their goal, possibly even exceeded it.


The prerequisite for training through winter is to have goals. No goals = no motivation. No motivation = excuses why you can't train, like "It's too cold," "I will fall ill," "It's dark," the list is endless. When setting your goals, it is important to set smart, realistic goals, as it not only gives you something to work towards but also improves the likelihood of success. Once you know what your goals are, write them down. Goals that are written down have more meaning because you are making them a reality. Then hang your list of goals in a place you spend a lot of time. This will help you to remain focused and on track.


Now that you have your goals, you need to get into a routine and do the same thing over and over and over, so that when it's cold, dark and windy you just go because that's what you do. And when you ask yourself the question, as you will, "Why am I doing this?" the answer will be simple. "I am running a triathlon (or whatever) in a specified time. No discussions as I know that with no effort I will not achieve my goal." No goal is easy to achieve, which is why it's a goal. A goal is something that needs work, hard, dedicated work. So get yourself into a routine that you are not going to break.


Work on your efficiency. Winter is a great time to correct that swimming stroke, pedalling and running style. No hard training, just keep the routine going.


During winter, your muscles contract and get stiff, your blood is thick and you naturally gain weight. All of this is your body's way of protecting you from falling ill. So don't expect to run PBs and swim faster than ever.

If you don't exercise, your immune system will weaken and you'll fall ill. Have you noticed how sports people with goals don't fall ill? They don't have time for it! Focus on consistency, be out there when others are sleeping or complaining about how cold it is. Trust me, when you get to work you will be bright eyed and raring to go, while your colleagues will have to have another cup of coffee to get them going.
So train through winter and improve, it's well worth it! Your last 20 km in that IRONMAN or Comrades is directly proportional to your winter training. All improvements in any sport are made in the off season, not in season when you are already fully committed. •

Benefits of training in winter include:
• Your immune system will be stronger and you'll be healthy.
• You will finish winter in good shape and ready to up training in spring.
• You will be more efficient, thus faster.
• Time spent indoors, like at the gym, will make you stronger.
• Your core temperature will be slightly higher, so you will feel less cold.
• You will enjoy life.

More information
If you have any questions or need advice on coaching, please email Andre Bekker on or visit http://5thdimensioncoaching.co.za