Ten tips to help make winter training a breeze

How to beat the winter blues? Zoe Gullen suggests ways to enjoy training in the winter months

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Reading rowers (c) Don Somner

Shakespeare was on to something when he said that ‘summer’s lease has all too short a date’. The summer – such as it was – seems to have gone by in a flash, and yet again it’s time to settle in to winter training. The dark days of winter can seem never-ending, so here are ten tips to avoid the winter blues.

1 – Wrap-up warm

Invest in some good quality cold weather gear: expensive, perhaps, but decent kit will last for ages. Don’t get on the water feeling chilly but thinking you’ll soon warm up. Layer up and start the outing warm and cosy – you can always take kit off.

2 – Set goals

Evaluate last season’s performance, then look ahead. There’s no point in resting on your laurels after a good 2018, or wallowing if it didn’t go to plan. Use what you learnt last season to plan your success in 2019.

3 – Get out and race

Head races are a great opportunity to try out different crews and boat classes, and will provide a focus for the long stretches of winter training. Then go to London for the Tideway heads early next year to round off the winter season.

4 – Set land-training challenges

These can be anything from a modest, ‘I want to be able to do one full chin-up by Christmas, to smashing your 2km personal best on the rowing machine. Why not check out our training plans and workouts for inspiration – they’re also a great way to track your progress. Have a look here.

5 – Cue the music

Use the long winter evenings to compile some killer playlists. Choose songs that motivated you in training last season, and mix in some summer classics: a quick burst of Surfin’ USA is bound to put a spring in your step on an icy-cold winter run.

Remind yourself that your opposition is probably out there training
6 – Get inspired

Curl up with a good rowing book, from the iconic Assault on Lake Casitas to the blood, sweat and tears of the Boat Race in The Last Amateurs. Or relax after training with a film or video.

7 – Socialise

Build club spirit and camaraderie by organising off-water events such as club suppers or quiz nights, which could also raise some funds for your club.

8 – Get away

Warm-weather training camps are ideal to break up the monotony of winter, get in a solid chunk of training and top up the tan. If travelling abroad is not an option, a change of scenery can still make a difference: perhaps enter a head race further afield than normal, book a B&B and make a training weekend of it. It might still be a cold, miserable river, but at least it will be a different cold, miserable river.

9 – Grit your teeth

Winter training is necessary for summer success. Every time staying under the duvet seems the more appealing option, remind yourself that your opposition is probably out there training.

10 – But don’t be a martyr

If you struggle with winter training, don’t force yourself into misery. Make a sensible choice: if you think you would achieve more, and be happier, indoors on the rowing machine than battling through freezing rain on the river, then train inside. It’s meant to be fun, after all.

This article was originally published in Rowing & Regatta magazine.