Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
Working Out Whatever The Weather
I’m honestly not sure what my commitment to exercise is. To my mind, I could work out a lot more than I do, if you were to ask my wife she’d describe me as bordering on insane. What I can say though is that I do it rain or shine all year round. This week I’m working with Legal and General Insurance who have blogged the following article on staying active whatever the weather. I’m going to share my tips on how to make sure the inclement weather doesn’t get in the way of some lovely cardio. I am going to focus on cardio here as, let’s face it, pull ups are equally miserable whether it’s raining or not (oh how I hate pull ups). So here are five ways to teach that pesky weather a lesson.
My Top 5 Tips
1. First up, get the right kit.
In the UK, even in summer it can get cold, wet, windy and all of these can affect your run or your ride. Make sure you have the gear to deal with this. If being wet bothers you, get a good waterproof. If it’s cold, have the kit to suit. I like to run in a running vest when it’s warm enough but when the temperature drops I add in a short sleeve compression top underneath. Don’t be tempted to adopt the ‘man up’ attitude here, there’s a serious side. All your joints operate in bags of fluid and just like the oil in a car this fluid needs to be at a certain temperature to work properly. For this reason, always make sure your knees are warm enough and that you don’t hit it too hard, too soon in the cold. I generally stick to running tights rather than shorts even in warmer weather. Do bear in mind you’ll warm up as the heart starts pumping so don’t over do warm kit as you’ll be a sweating mess later on. Remember, with the right kit, early on into the run / ride you’ll be at a nice temperature, so there’s no reason to fear the cold.
Me after running a mud run last December. Compression top and vest to keep my core warm, arms bare so I don’t overheat. Getting your kit right is important.
2. My next suggestion is more psychological, set a training goal.
This could be informal, aiming to blast through your favourite trails in a certain time, or more fixed, like an event. The more of a stretch your goal is, the more it will motivate you to get out there and get going even when the weather says no. This is a lesson I learned when training for Tough Guy last year. Above all else I wanted to complete the course and I knew that physically it would be a challenge. The old adage of ‘train hard, race easy’ was ever present in my mind and it got me out on the trails in the rain, the cold and indeed after a number of near sleepless nights (thanks to my darling daughter). I saw then how powerful a motivation a good goal can be and so now I try and do an obstacle race or mud run every 3 months or so. Not so frequent that it’s the end of the world if I get the flu but close enough so that when the rain comes down and the willpower ebbs, I can still get out into the forest.
3. Make your training a routine.
However good my intentions are, given the choice, there is simply no way I’m getting out of bed on a Sunday and deciding to go running, the lure of warmth and covers will always win out. So I simply make it routine to go out, then I don’t engage any concious part of my brain. I lay my kit out the night before, make sure everything is ready and normally don’t even start to wake up until I put on the heart rate monitor (which for some reason, probably extra misery, has to have cold water on it to work well). Yes, it’s still hard the first few times but after a month it’s bedded in and the need to think about going out has been removed. On Sunday I go for a run first thing, rain or shine, December or June, it doesn’t matter, it’s what I do. Period.
4. Another useful technique is to link training to something you have to do anyway.
My personal example is walking the dog. I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback and she needs a good walk every day without fail. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or cold (though she hates both of those) she needs to burn off energy or she becomes very hard to handle so I combine my training with her walks. In the summer when the mornings are light I run with her every single day, in the winter that has to be a weekend treat but I keep it going. Take a look at where you can incorporate training into your normal life, you may be surprised. I go out to visit friends on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and so I make sure I take the bike rather than the car. It doesn’t take that much longer and it negates the need to find a parking space when I get there, again, it’s routine for me to do this so I’m training without really having to make a decision to do so.
5. My final tip is the most important. Remember that you’re doing this for fun.
Yes, it’s hard getting out when it’s cold or rainy but ultimately you’re doing it because you enjoy it. The thought of pulling on your running shoes when its raining might seem awful but that’s all it is, a thought; the notion of going out in the cold is always worse than the reality. I find that if I grit my teeth and get out there, minutes into the run, I’ve forgotten the wet and I’m just focused on enjoying being out in the fresh air having a run. If the exercise you’re doing is not something you enjoy then you need to find something else. Exercise you hate for the sole goal of fitness or weightloss or whatever is just needless self punishment. By all means ‘man up’ for the first 5 minutes, but past that, if you’re hating it, find something else to do. If you don’t like the cold, go swimming after work or do a youtube Zumba session before dinner or go to the gym (if you really must) but do something that you enjoy (during not just after). Once you’re out there remember that not only do you get the pleasure of being outside, you get a super endorphin rush to help you along. With the right kit I don’t even really mind the rain so much. I could do without the wind if I am honest but if it’s ever a question of being outside in the elements or being stuck indoors all day, I know what I’ll choose.
*This is a collaborative post.