Weekend Reading: A 3-Step Plan for Maintaining Training Motivation This Winter

This weekend I’m in Greenville, South Carolina, to ride with my old friend George Hincapie and several of the CTS Coaches from our Brevard training center in the Hincapie Gran Fondo. I’ve been looking forward to this ride for long time, and I left Colorado just as the first big cold front of the season was rushing in. Like the rest of the country, we’re entering the cold and dark days of the year, when weight piles up around our midsections and the motivation to train goes down the drain. I can’t afford to fall into that trap because I’m competing in a 6-day mountain bike stage race in January, and to be prepared for the Trans Andes Challenge I can’t lose my motivation and all my fitness between now and New Year’s!

Staying fit right now is kind of like fighting nature. Cold temperatures, early sunsets, Christmas commercials on TV, and riding partners going into hibernation mode are all signals that it’s time to wind down the season.  To combat those signals I have a three-point plan to stay motivated during a period when I can’t rely on warm weather and training buddies to help get me out the door. Even if you’re not racing Trans Andes in January, these steps can still set you up for a great start to 2013!

Step 1: Find an indoor trainer class
In Colorado Springs we have a Tues/Thurs indoor cycling class on Computrainers in the CTS Endurance Sports Club.  It’s a progressive 8-week class, very similar to the 16-session Progressive Power Video Series. For me it provides a positive group training environment and a progressive series of difficult one-hour interval workouts. Social, quick, and effective. A high-quality, power-based training class can be a cyclist’s or a triathlete’s best choice in the winter.

Step 2: Plan a December training camp
A 7-10 day training camp in late December is a good idea for a number of reasons. Through the late fall it gives me something to look forward to. As a parent of school-age children, I can target the week between Christmas and New Year’s as the timeframe for my camp (ride for a few hours, spend the rest of the day with family). And a big block of moderate-intensity training volume provides a great training stimulus for bolstering aerobic endurance after a period that was focused more on short, high-intensity interval workouts.

Step 3: Set a short-term weight goal
I currently weigh about 162 pounds, and I want to race Trans Andes in January at 160-162 pounds. I’m fortunate in that I don’t really need to lose weight; I just have to avoid gaining it. I find that having a short-term weight goal (don’t gain weight in the next 90 days) makes it easier for me to focus on my everyday eating decisions. From experience, I find this mindset to be especially beneficial during the Holiday Season. If my goal were to be 160 pounds in July 2013, it would be too easy for me to justify gaining 5-7 pounds before January (“I’ll lose it later…”).

During this portion of the year, I also encourage everyone to be an opportunist. When nature offers you an unusually warm and sunny day, pounce on the opportunity and get out there for a substantial ride. If you’re worried about messing up the spacing of your interval workouts, don’t overthink it. As a coach I’d rather adjust your interval workouts than see you forego the opportunity for a great outdoor day in the saddle!

Have a great weekend!
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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