Six expert tips for staying motivated with your winter training

Man running

How to stay motivated with your winter training. 6 expert tips from ex professional triathlete and coach, Colin Norris.

It's that time of the year again where the shorts are swapped for leggings, the darkness closes in and our motivation to get out the door ebbs away. So who better to ask than Colin Norris, ex professional athlete and lead coach from APB Coaching for his top tips on how to stay motivated & train consistently over the winter period.

1.Set a goal:

Without goals we lack focus and direction, goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life's direction; it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding. This could range from “I'd like to be able to exercise pain free” to “I'd like to run a sub 3hr marathon”. Both will need a plan and the ability to think daily “what will it take” and longer term “where do I need to get to”.

Breakdown what you need to do daily so it becomes manageable and set a goal that's challenging but also manageable for you around your life and work commitments. So, if your marathon / sportive / triathlon  is in April, build in some smaller milestones along the way that will help you keep focused and break up the winter training -and don't forget to have fun! 

Keep it social:

Relying on yourself only to get out the door is difficult. Enlisting a friend or joining a club can bring some accountability or more importantly a fun and sociable aspect to your training. You only need to see the rise of the run clubs to see how important it is for us to join other like minded people to take to the streets and the comradery that comes along with this. 

Whether it's a work run club, meeting a friend before work at the park or joining your local run club this will undoubtedly make those cold mornings and dark evenings easier and more enjoyable!

Make it easy for yourself:

Willpower is a finite resource so to make the routine stick we´ve got to make the environment we are in conducive to making training easy.  This can range from putting the shoes by the front door to building training into your commute. We all know once you return home from a hard day's work it's nie impossible to get out the door again so running / cycling to and from work can really help build seamless consistency into your routine.

We ́d also suggest getting some warm kit, such as long neck warmer, bib tights, thermal vests and tights to make the cold that much more bearable!

Switching the focus:

The winter can be a great opportunity to turn your attention to the gym and the turbo trainer. We know well the importance of strength training to accompany your endurance training - even if you are allergic to the gym!

Whether your focus is running, cycling or triathlon, strength training provides numerous benefits from increased bone density and protecting joints to ultimately make you more resilient against injury - it's also warmer in the gym 😉.

Importance of nutrition:

Nutrition is not just for race day.  The winter is a great opportunity to  experiment to see which products work best for you so by spring you have a plan in place and there's no guessing. The fuelling demands also change over this period.

Whilst most endurance athletes will be lowering their general intensity as building a strong base becomes the focus, this doesn't necessarily mean the energy demands or carbohydrates per hour are lower during this period.

So unless you are trying to lose weight, harsher weather conditions, the cold, heavier rolling resistance all increase the energy demands of the body. Mid winter training is not necessarily the best time to get super lean, especially with the increased susceptibility of illness so don't forget to stop for a coffee & energy bar on those longer rides!

Depending on your size and body demands, we recommend a minimum of 40g of carbohydrate per hour and more as the intensity rises. It's generally better to be slightly over fuelled than under so pack a few extra bars with you just encase! Using our range of energy chews, energy gels. energy bars and electrolyte powders you can mix and match your carb intake and different flavours along the way!

Hiring a coach

The start of the off season can be a great time to enlist the advice of a coach to help you plan the winter period. This can not only outsource the mental stress of ´what shall I do today´ but will also help integrate your training around your life and work in a sustainable way. If you are planning events in the spring summer it makes sense to start working with a coach now so they can get to know you well and keep you accountable in the toughest training months of the year!

Colin Norris is an ex pro Ironman athlete and lead coach at APB Works. Explore training plans and 1:1 coaching at