You won’t believe me . . . but winter is actually the best season for training!  But you need to be prepared.  With the help of my trainer at my Northampton boot camp, I’m still flying high in the cold! Here’s a survival guide to help make sure you continue to enjoy your classes.

Realise the Health Benefits

Staying indoors all winter is in no way beneficial to your health and actually will leave you more exposed to any winter bugs going around.  It’s much better to get out in the fresh air, beat the cabin fever with new sights and sounds and give yourself a sound mind and body workout.

If you’re a sufferer of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) then getting outside to exercise will help you alleviate your symptoms as it introduces more daylight into your system and involves you in activities that are exciting and fun.

If you’re trying to lose weight then exercising in the cold burns the most calories as you need to move faster and constantly to keep warm.

Exercise will help you keep the colds and flus away so long as you don’t overdo it.  Boot camp is a particularly effective form of exercise in the winter because you will be encouraged by your peers.

Clothing and Skincare

You need to gear up for the run.  Apply moisturizer to your skin to keep away dryness and itching.  Buy yourself a good ski-mask or a hoodie to protect your neck, face and head from the bitter winds.  Pull a woollen or fleece cap over your ears and wrap a scarf around your mouth and neck if you don’t want a ski mask.

Wear a lightweight, but warm winter jacket. Fleece usually works well.  Layer up underneath it with a t-shirt and a sweatshirt.  Wear leggings or thermal underwear underneath your jogging bottoms.

Wear trainers that have decent traction so that you’ll be ok on the ice and snow.  Trail-running shoes work well, but if there is too much snow then try lightweight boots that bend as you do, but fend of snow and moisture.

To take care of your footwear, remove sock liners and wet laces and hang them up so that your trainers dry quicker.  Stuff your shoes with a wad of newspaper to soak up the moisture (and stink!).  Put them in a warm and dry spot, but not too close to the radiator as the heat breaks down the foam and rubber in trainers.  Spraying your trainers with a waterproofing solution will help them stand up to the wet weather better, but it also makes them less breathable.

Protect your Car

It’s likely that you’re going to get mucky so protect your car with car covers or bin bags.  Bring a spare carrier bag for your dirty trainers and a spare pair of footwear.

Warm up and Cool Down

It’s always essential to warm up properly to avoid injury, but it’s especially important in winter when it takes longer for your body to get warm.   Start slow with some gentle running or even walking.  Then gradually increase the pace until, after about ten minutes, you reach the pace you want to maintain for the rest of the run.  Don’t stop after warming up to stretch.  Your body will cool down again and your warm up time will have been wasted.  If you want to stretch before running, try some walking lunges or high knee skips.

To cool down, continue to run, but at an easier pace or walk for 5-10 minutes.  This helps your body to recover after the run.  Don’t stop to stretch outside or you’ll get too cold, do it inside instead.

Stay Motivated

If you’re tempted to hit the snooze button in the morning, remember this – staying motivated in the winter requires you to change only one thing: your mindset. These conditions encourage eating more and doing less, but motivation is based on two things. The first is having a goal to aim for. The second is understanding the positive effects your actions are having on your life. Connect these two forces and you’ll always be inspired.

Set a Goal

If running is not your thing, set a different goal.  A few pounds of weight loss or a 5% reduction in body fat.  Put a photo of the bikini you want on the fridge.  There’s nothing like a picture to motivate you and each time you see it you’ll know that each day that passes brings you closer to hitting the beach in the summer and you’ll be more inclined to shut the fridge door and grab the skipping rope!

Focus on the Benefits

Your bed’s gravitational pull is very strong at 6am, more so when it is cold and dark outside. That’s why you need to tell yourself about the benefits that exercise brings you. You want to manage your stress, have loads of energy and feel good about yourself instead of falling asleep at your desk, feeling overweight and overwhelmed. Get a piece of paper and write down all the ways exercise adds quality to your life. Stick it on the fridge with your photo.  Read it regularly, especially when you are feeling flat.

Reward Yourself

When you reach your goal, reward yourself with something special like a new outfit for your new body. There’s nothing like working towards a goal, reaching it and then splashing out to say ‘well done me’.