WINTER TRAINING - IT'S A CHOICE
The word winter almost feels confrontational, as we viscerally recall condensed breath, clasped hands and a glistening, icy environment. The winter challenges us to adapt and face the cooler temperatures, the wind, the wet, shorter days and a dormant natural environment, devoid of the flourishing vitality from seasons past.
I grew up being reminded that there is no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothing. This was always a quip as I was putting on my heavy-duty coat, boots and extras, while asking (in other words whingeing!) why we had to go out now, with the weather doing its best to keep us indoors. And that was the answer - you can’t succumb to the weather. It was brutally simple. Your long-term health, both physical and mental, is more important than the short-term discomfort of whatever the weather wanted to throw at you. It was brutally simple, but the lesson was simply brilliant - you have a choice. Repeating the ritual builds great confidence in the ability to resist or overcome. Thank you Dad - I love you for this.
It’s true that we have everything we need at our disposal to combat the elements - so far, no excuses. Ok but we can’t make the sun rise an earlier, nor can we make it set any later and this is where our will meets its firmest resistance. Our body’s natural inclination is to rise with the light and down with the dark. Who doesn’t find it harder to rise at 6am in December vs June, who doesn’t find it harder to activate before sunrise and who doesn’t ask themselves if going home is a better option than training when the sun has faded. We all take energy from sunlight and most of us are well-aware of the need to see the sun daily, but some of us simply don’t get enough during the reduced hours of winter daylight. Many of us simply cannot get out during working hours, or when faced with the responsibilities that demand our focus and attention during the day.
Winter training is hard. However entrenched your training habits are, we all find it hardest to motivate ourselves through November to March. But while we might find ourselves wondering where the motivation has gone this winter, hoping it will return and then we will activate; it’s pivotal to understand that motivation comes from activation. It is by doing that you find the confidence to do more. The confidence in knowing that you have a choice. When you imagine that a set of circumstances is controlling you, it is easier to say no - I will decide, I am in charge. As individuals, we are bigger than our circumstances.
“You are the sky. Everything else - it is just the weather”
As you exhale in the knowledge that those final fifty metres are finished, that you’ve reached the end, you’ve completed your last lift, skip, stroke or jump, this is when you acknowledge what’s just happened; you did it. As you breath in accordance with what your body demands from the effort made, it hits you - you just went where you wanted to go. What was previously so hard to imagine, has become reality and the glee of self-satisfaction rises through your abdomen. You just overcame your own self-imposed restrictions. You are now in an expanded landscape of self-knowledge. You knew it was possible and it is; the only difference was the choice to separate yourself from your circumstances. These circumstances can of course be more than just the weather; they can be all vagaries of life, but the point is they are temporary and what makes us individual is separate from these fluctuations.