Making a plan is still number 1. It’s probably not the jazzy answer you were hoping for, but we all know that what gets planned is more likely to get done. For some people having each week of training and exercise planned out for time, duration and location works best. I was one of these folks for a long time, but now as a recovering 'obsessive planner' I prefer to refer to use a guideline. With a list of activities and sessions I’d like to achieve over the week, and a rough outline of when it might happen, this allows room for spontaneous adventures and last minute sessions with friends.
Making a plan is the first step for Johnny Davies, who has competed in 2 Coast to Coast events - the 2 day last year and the 1 day event this year.
“For Coast to Coast this year and last year my plan began several months before the main event. It included prelude events to keep things interesting along the way and to test my current ability to know how I was progressing. My plan is usually quite detailed with each training day noted with duration, intensity and discipline and is always written down in advance and checked off each day as this gives me some awareness of where I’m at and to review what’s coming up to ensure I’m on my game. I then transfer all of my training plan into my smartphone because let’s face it, we don’t go anywhere without it and once it’s in your calendar with alarms, it’s hard to ignore (embrace technology)!”
Be organised. Have your gear ready ahead of time. Whether it’s early in the morning or after work, if everything is there ready then that’s one less obstacle for not getting out there. Also make sure you have all the gear you need well ahead of time.
Minimise your excuses. This is the key to progress and success for Mark Tree, a recent addict to the world of multisport and adventure racing. Mark is training for Red Bull Defiance and the Coast to Coast Longest Day in 2019 so training through winter is crucial for him to feel fit and ready on the start line. This year he has decided to stop excuses limiting his training time over winter, because “Summer bodies are made in winter!”
“I don’t have time to train.”
"The first thing is to make myself get out of bed earlier and fit in a session at times before work, when I do this it makes the day way better as well because you feel awesome! You can generally always add time to your day by getting up earlier, it’s a lot harder to do it at the end of the day though."
“I don’t like the cold.”
"Having an indoor bike trainer and a good gym program are key for winter because they are inside but still are getting you training and heading towards your goals. My last finding time to train tip would have to be to invest in the correct gear. An awesome weather proof jacket and merino layers means that you can train now matter what the weather. I don’t like training in the cold or bad weather so a goal of mine is to not let the weather get in the way.....I try to see it now as something that is preparing myself for any type of race day conditions. This is still a huge work on for me but most times I suck it up and train in the average weather. I end up enjoying myself and think....shit yea, that was worth it."
“I don’t like training in the dark.”
"I bought a bloody good head lamp, and we have started to become good friends. It’s so bright it’s like running at day time, so me and my dog, who keeps me company now, can get out and train in the dark and not use darkness as too much of an excuse to not having enough time."
“I don’t know what training to do.”
"I have followed advice that a mate once told me, 'If you want to be good at something go learn from someone who is already good at it.' So I went and got a coach (Dougal Allan) and it means that my programming is sorted for me, I’m accountable to someone and I have already done numerous trainings that I just wouldn’t have done if it hadn’t been for him."
Mark sums up his gems of wisdom by reminding himself (and us!) of the bigger picture.
“Each training is generally making me a better version of myself, a more healthier me, so it’s important to prioritise my health. You only get one body so you need to look after it.”
Be innovative. Look for parts of your day where you can incorporate exercise or training. It also helps to “rethink what is do-able”, says Abigail Owsley, a busy mum from Cambridge, who cycles her 25km route to work and back each day.
“It beats sitting in traffic, and the time used is about an extra hour, so it’s using time that’s already allocated.”
Abigail has raced events like The Pioneer and Coast to Coast, so it’s a change in mindset that obviously works. The cycle commute began when Abigail moved back to New Zealand from Canada, where she had been able to walk everywhere. But this wasn’t an option here so she caught rides with people and could see that there was a cycle path along some sections of the expressway.
"So I studied it and one day got dropped to work with my bike to test how long it would take to bike home. And now the idea of driving seems like a pointless waste of time."
Abigail and I both agree that these things are only scary the first time you do it. And once you do it regularly enough it becomes your new normal. Abigail still maintains that she’s “no super athlete, just a regular mum, who wants to be an example to her children and loves being fit and healthy.”
Finding like-minded people with similar goals to exercise, train and adventure with is another key pillar to making progress. If you don’t know anyone yet ask around and do some Google research. There’s running groups, bootcamps, gym classes and other organised fitness sessions in most areas if you go hunting. It can be a bit daunting turning up to do new things with new people, but it’s often these times when we tiptoe outside our comfort zone where we find great rewards.
Krissy Archer has done 3x 6 hour Spring Challenge events and is currently training for the Coast to Coast 2 day individual event in 2019. She highly recommends scheduling regular sessions with other people as much as possible.
“There’s nothing like having someone to meet to get your butt out the door in the wintertime. Signing up to my 1st Spring Challenge meant weekly adventures in the wild with my girlfriends through the winter. I found this experience life changing, it was like discovering a whole side of life that I hadn’t been privy to.”
Krissy calls her life before her first Spring Challenge “the before time”. I'm sure many other past Spring Challenge participants can relate to this!
“My usual approach to winter was hibernation, but having these challenging but incredible experiences to look forward to with my friends got me out the door geared up at 6am in the cold dark mornings with no problems.”
Johnny seconds the importance of people and highlights this as a source of motivation.
“Surround yourself with like-minded people and get out and train together, no one ever wants to let down a teammate by not showing up and, trust me, those times I didn’t I certainly heard about it...if it wasn’t for the great people around me sharing similar goals I would never have got to the finish line.”