After a wonderful month of merriment, mince pies (and probably, even more mince pies) it can be a very real struggle to summon that get up and go attitude you waved goodbye to on the first of December. It may be coming up to the end of January but for some, January may not have been the resolution-fulfilling month you dreamed of. Which is why we wanted to catch up with a few of our Zone 3 Athletes: Radka Vodickova Kahlefeldt, Claire Michel and Andi Boecherer, with the mission of tapping into their professional insight for answers to the big question: “How do we stay inspired and motivated through the winter?”.
Radka Vodickova Kahlefeldt, (pictured above at the 70.3 World Championship 2018) long distance Athlete, new mother and winner of six professional races in 2018 certainly knows what it takes to stay on form. Radka has dominated Ironman 70.3 over the past 6 months, including wins at Ironman 70.3 Davao, Philippines (Asia-Pacific Championships) and Ironman 70.3 Taupo, New Zealand and 5th place at the World Championships. When it comes to post-festivity training, she may just be a master by now, although she knows it’s never an easy feat:
"December is a month where many people enjoy the holiday time with family and friends, with a loose regime consisting of less (or no) training, more eating, more drinking and less sleeping. Then when January arrives everyone wants to get back into the healthy lifestyle, but it isn't easy because as people we are naturally lazy."
Radka’s number one tip is to put those new Christmas gifts into action, whilst also encouraging you to spice things up a bit when it comes to your training sessions:
"Hopefully, Santa bought you a new swimsuit or goggles. This helps you to look forward to getting back into training. Also, sometimes it just helps to do training somewhere new, somewhere different. So, for example, for swimming sometimes you could change from your usual 25m indoor pool to a 50m outdoor."
Claire Michel (pictured above), ITU Athlete, 2016 Olympic Games qualifier and European Cup gold medallist’s number one tip is to find a compatible training buddy:
"Even if you train at different paces at the very least you can set a time to start together and maybe just do a warm up and cool down together but setting a date and time to train together will help get you out the door."
Radka also recommends this strategy, planning training sessions with friends ahead of time to ensure you keep to schedule, “if you agree to meet at 9am at the pool, then you will more likely be there and you will look forward to it”.
Andi Boecherer, professional German long distance triathlete and winner of Ironman Italy 2018 likes to secure his motivation by locking in “a big battle in summer” to keep him “fired up”. For Andi he opts for the mental game, using his past experiences as a tool to motivate and push him to continue to improve:
"I think about my best and my worst race of last summer. The first gives me smiles, the latter makes me want to keep improving and do better."
Well, if it works for Andi! So, a certain way to kickstart motivation is to commit to a race and find that mislaid focus when you’re in the thick of training. Experiencing that endorphin rush again is always better than a slice of Christmas Pudding, but just like every year before we must re-discover that again for ourselves.
All our athletes agreed on races being a great motivator. Claire recommends “picking races that excite and challenge you to give you a sense of purpose and direction during your weekly sessions”. Whilst Radka suggests looking to the near future, preferring to book her first post-Christmas race for some time in mid-February to entice her back into training but she also recognises how hard it can be to get back into a routine.
"If I have decided to race mid-February it will get me going even if I will feel like skipping the session. But remember that the comebacks after a break are the most difficult, but it will get better after two weeks of consistent training."
Sometimes motivation can also be hard to hold onto when we can’t envision the finish line. It can be overwhelming looking at your year ahead and the sheer amount of training you have committed to. Andi says he likes to “break up the training with small single-sport races against specialists” because “a good beating” keeps him on his toes - he’s one tough cookie.
Claire too recommends breaking up your training but into smaller goals, and if you’re struggling, to concentrate on one week at a time.
"I would say to never think too far ahead. When things get tough, break your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps. When really struggling, think one week of training at a time, or one day, or one session, or one interval, or one lap, etc. Just make the goal however small is necessary to keep you going."
Our Pros’ Top 5
- Scope out new and different training locations – a change of scenery can help keep you on your toes, more focused and your training interesting.
- Train with someone – still finding the early mornings tough? Enlist a fellow athlete and commit to training sessions at the times you know you struggle to find motivation.
- Book a race – lock in your first race of the year, set your sights on it and go!
- Let your past experiences inspire your future successes – don’t dwell on them, learn from them and change tack.
- Set small goals - break your training up into manageable chunks and tackle it one week at a time until you’re back on full steam.
There you have it, straight from the professionals, a how-to guide on hacking the winter blues and finding the fire to train hard and look ahead at 2019 with fresh winning eyes.