If there’s going to be a time of year for your mojo to go AWOL I am pretty sure the winter months are the most common time for it to happen. The days are shorter, it’s cold and probably wet too. What’s more, the 2012 season is a distance memory. Since then you’ve had some time off and hopefully indulged in some treats, had a bevy or two more than usual and loosened your belt buckle to the next notch. You know now is the time to get moving but you have no momentum, your routine is out of kilter and the fear of next season’s race schedule isn’t quite close enough. Given the choice between a Sunday lie in with the papers or a three-hour turbo session staring out the window at the relentless rain, it is understandable how the Sunday paper option is difficult to resist.
As I write this I actually feel like my mojo is obediently sticking with me, which is unusual for this time of year. However, I am just marking the two-week point since I had my pesky tonsils out, and quite frankly I feel less of a professional triathlete and more a couch potato. It seems that a lot can happen in two weeks. A daily routine that fluctuated between lying in bed or on the sofa with a daily intake of well under 1,000 calories means I am not in great shape just now. My swimming shoulders, which I constantly curse, are gone, and I want them back. How’s that for fickle?
It dawned on me that many of the tactics and mind games that I am drawing on now, apply equally to the mysteriously missing mojo. If you’re wondering how you’re going to get back into the swing of things, read on. Do not compare your numbers, pacing, times, weight or reps to those you were knocking out as a matter of routine three months ago. If you are getting even close to them, well, shame on you, you cannot have had a good off-season. My motto is new season, clean slate. Don’t look back, look forward. This is one of the few periods in your training when you are going to see big gains in a relatively short period of time. Enjoy seeing the progression and don’t get hung up asking yourself how will you ever get back to your peak numbers.
Go a bit off piste. As I said in my last column, if there is a time to wander of the familiar path of swim, bike and run, it is now. Don’t be afraid to add some ergo to your gym routine. It is a hugely beneficial cross-training tool and you won’t feel the pressure to hit specific numbers. You could also try yoga or Pilates. Both will benefit you in the coming season but don’t necessarily feel like training.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your view, if you live in the northern hemisphere it is almost certain that the turbo will feature at least once in your week. I’m actually a fan of my CompuTrainer because it’s efficient and gives you great information. If the idea of three hours solo is enough to drive you insane why not set up a turbo training group. Yes, I realise that sounds a bit sad but group training works. It’s fun, and on those days when you can’t really be bothered, it will get you out the door. It’s one thing making excuses to yourself, but it is that bit harder when it’s to your club mates, who you’ll probably be racing next year. You don’t want them getting ahead of you, do you?!
Set some goals for 201 3 and use them to motivate you when you are procrastinating about getting out the door whether it’s a new PB, improving a run split or moving up a distance. The best goal I heard on Twitter was from a lady who wanted to beat her husband at Ironman next year. I am very goal driven so being clear about my aims is essential for me to really throw myself into training.
Enter some random events to spice up your training. You can choose how random you want to go. One winter I seemed to develop a compulsion that made me enter any running event that sounded like a form of torture. This included the Hellrunner, the Grim Eight and a mountain bike race that boasted sections called the death slide and corkscrew. Every one of them was incredibly fun and challenging. The fitness benefit was incidental to a good morning out.
Plan a training camp or weekend with friends. When I was working, planning a camp acted as a great carrot to keep me going early on in January. At least when I was wrapping my hands round a mug of tea post ride while waiting for my feet to thaw, I could count down the weeks until I would be back riding in short sleeves and swimming outside.
Everyone loses their mojo at some point in the year especially when hibernation urges kick in, but fear not, like Arnie, it will be back!