As you head into the new year, don't let cold temperatures and short days put a damper on your motivation to exercise outdoors.
It's true, Some athletes have a self-imposed temperature limit saying, “I won’t ride my bike outside if the temperature is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.”
For others that temperature limit is zero.
Some athletes will run when the thermometer is dancing in the single digits and there is snow on the ground. However, others can’t get themselves out the door. (Note: Many athletes find that running in cold weather is easier than cycling, mostly because the wind chill factor is significantly reduced.)
More: Is Running in the Cold Bad For Your Lungs?
Let’s assume that you want to exercise in cold weather, but you have trouble finding the motivation to actually execute action on that desire. Maybe I can help.
Keep Your Long Term Goals Visible
If your major fitness goals are some six to ten months away, it is easy to skip a workout when the weather is less than balmy. There is a feeling that you have plenty of time. Unfortunately, before you know it one workout turns into two or maybe two each week. Time slips away and suddenly you’re only 12 weeks out from your event and in a major panic about fitness.
If you keep your long term goals visible, posted on your refrigerator or office wall, it is easier to get out the door on a 30-degree day.
Plant the thought seed: "I’m going out because I want to give myself the best possible shot at achieving my goals next season."
More: 6 Tips to Plan Your Triathlon Race Season
Have Some Short Term Goals
Write down some weekly and monthly goals. It is easier to get out the door if some of your goals have looming deadlines. It is best if these short term goals contribute to the success of your long term goals.
Recruit Friends Who Have the Same Goals
Misery loves company and it makes for good stories. If you can find friends who have the same goals as you do, it makes toughing out cold conditions more fun.
For example, a group of local endurance athletes have a goal to ride to a city in the mountains just once per month, year round. Though all of the 15 athletes have differing long term goals, this short term goal will get them out in some cold conditions—like below 20 degrees Fahrenheit—on snowy roads and on a mountain bike.
Say it: There is no Bad weather, Only Bad Clothing
If you have the right clothing, exercising outside is invigorating. There are athletes exercising in all kinds of temperatures, rain and snow. You just have to figure out what system of layering you need to stay warm, comfortable and happy in a wide range of temperatures.
More: How to Stay Warm on Cold Training Days