Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Winter is coming: how to stay motivated?

You know, I complain about the proverbial 9 months of winter here in Michigan - the stretch of the year that feels impossibly long under sunless skies and bitter winds...and icy roads.  But I realized today that I started biking this year in March.  I couldn't ride everyday, but I was able to start getting my outdoor exercise fix.

In reality, that means I have been able to ride and run outside for the past 8 months.  It's been one of the best summers of my life for outdoor athletic adventures!  I've tried tons of new things and met some great people.  Furthermore, next March is now only 5 months away.  Still...it feels like an eternity of Michigan misery is fast approaching.

The thing that's truly kept me motivated this summer is trying new things.  I got my first road bike in March, and that had me geeked for weeks!  Then I set the goal to complete a century in June, and I trained enthusiastically for that.  My interest lulled slightly after that, but to re-motivate myself I decided to do a second century in July.  After that ride, my activity definitely tapered off to about once a week for a month or so until I set the goal to do the duathlon at the end of September.  Now, running is interesting to me because it's new again and I've seen progress in my fitness.  And last night, I finally responded to a curiosity I've had all summer; I went to the gym and swam.  It was hard, but it got me thinking that maybe I really can do a triathlon.  I'd feel really proud of myself, If I completed one.  I could say to myself, "I'm a triathlete."

So now I have this new goal and the tri season is already over.  I guess I'll have to use training over the winter for an early summer tri to keep the seasonal depression at bay.

But it's a long time before spring.  It'll be easy to get lazy when I don't want to go outside, let alone drive to the gym.  But I'm kind of excited right now to find creative ways to keep myself motivated to exercise over the winter months - spin class, weight lifting, indoor mini-tris...attempts to manufacture variety with the same old gym equipment.  Maybe even going outside to ski.

I'd love to hear about other people's techniques for keeping yourself moving in the winter.


  1. ever tried cyclocross? that at least cuts an endless winter down to 2.5 months instead of 5!

  2. when the weather is bad, i use a trainer. i ride a recumbent trike, so i only need the rear wheel fixture. but the company that sells my trike also sells the entire trainer. here is a link to show you what i mean:
    it works really great. i use my heart rate monitor and it's just like being at the gym only more convenient because i'm at home.

  3. Hi! Cece here. New to your blog. I like to use the Spinervals CDs for the indoor trainer over the winter and when the weather is bad and I planned a ride. You can check out my blog at

  4. Staying motivated through the winter months in Flagstaff is difficult if you don't ski (and since we moved here at the height of the housing bubble we are house poor and can't afford to ski). Running and biking can be a challenge when it snows because during the week by the time one leaves work at 5 the temperatures are starting to drop and the snow melt is turning to ice. We had some very deep snow the last two years and outdoor running and biking were not an option for us. So, that leaves the treadmill, the eliptical trainer, and weights, all three at the gym. I am not jazzed about running on a treadmill but I'll do short runs on them if that is my only option. I love weight training, since I've always been good at it and the eliptical trainer just seems to help with sore joints and tight hamstrings. I did a little swimming this summer and plan to do more of that this year just for variety but agree, it is hard. Finally, I really want to get some snow shoes. Hiking in deep snow is pretty impossible for me without them and its good exercise and fun. If you want to follow another beginning triathloner, check out my husband's blog therunningbob.com. He is struggling with staying motivated post swine flu!