It’s fair to say the 2021 competition season has now come to an end. Sorry everyone! We consider ourselves pretty lucky to have had one in the end but now we can finally relax for a short while before we refocus and the winter grind really begins.
And that’s the topic we’re going to covering today… The Winter Grind and our top tips to beating it. To do that we are going to be taking a look back at some of our highlights from a blockbuster month of winter training themed content.
So, if you missed one of our helpful articles, social posts or videos earlier in the month, not to worry, we’ll catch you back up right here on the U Perform blog.
It’s at this point where a lot of you might be asking why on earth we are making so much fuss over winter training! Well, everyone here at U Perform member of our staff is or has been involved in world class performance sport as athletes, coaches & performance specialists.
So, we don't just say that sport and fitness is at the heart of what we do... we live it, every single day. We’ve learnt a fair few lessons over the years, both good and bad and we feel it is our mission to share those with you.
No matter your chosen sport, activity or goal; with U Perform you are in good hands!
But what is the ‘Winter Grind’ and how can we beat it?
A common term in the endurance sport community, the ‘Winter Grind’ perfectly characterises the kind of training experience we are going to have over the next few months.
For active people and athletes no matter your age or ability level, winter is generally the time of year where we focus less on all out intensity i.e. how hard we push our body in isolated moments, and more on increasing the overall volume and or frequency of the workouts and training we are doing.
What we mean here is that we train longer and more often at much lower intensities as well as spending a lot of time working on the key skills and movements that will help us level up in our chosen sport or activity.
Don’t get me wrong, it is still important to get in those short and high intensity efforts as not doing so may in fact hinder your overall fitness gains but it also just mixes things up a bit which is an important point that we will come back to later.
So we’re training longer and more often maybe. Factor in the shorter days, the dark, the cold and the rain and you really start to realise that our body will really take a battering over the winter months.
Waking up in the dark perhaps to do your morning run or head to the gym before work. Sheltering inside to avoid the cold and rain later on. Only to be met by the dark once again before you have even finished work for the day. It’s an overwhelmingly bleak prospect and it can and will feel like an uphill struggle at times which is why the term ‘Winter Grind’ has really taken off in the sport and fitness communities.
The very fact that we call it the 'Winter Grind' just goes to shows how negative our mindset is regarding the perceived hardships of winter training... i.e. the cold, the rain, the dark, the long training sessions etc. We’re almost setting ourselves up for failure before we have even started!!! And that’s just not the U Perform way.
Quite simply, everyone’s first step should be embracing the winter grind as something to look forward to... as it is a chance to work on our weaknesses just as much as we do our strengths.
Even the best athletes in the world need time to take a step back and make sure that the training they are doing is specific and purposeful. Purposeful training for those of us with jobs, families and other commitments is even more important as it guarantees you are maximising your training and non-training time.
Not only that, setting time aside during your winter training to identify what you are good at and what you are not good at goes a long way to helping you figure out your goals for the next year too.
By taking things right back to basics, we can work on our processes which all in will help you to make lasting and meaningful improvements to both our physical & mental performance and overall health and wellbeing too!
Embracing the winter grind and giving it a real purpose will enable you to perform better in the following year. Now who doesn’t want that!
Ok then, on to this month’s blog highlights and a few of our other top tips for crushing the Winter Grind…
We start, naturally, at the beginning of the month where our winter themed journey began. To kick off the month, we shared our 7 Training Tips to Avoid a Winter Workout Slump.
The best starting point for anyone approaching winter training or even just getting back to training after a break is to set SMART goals. Exercise, nutrition and the lifestyle we build around those things are crucial for maintaining and even improving our mental health, as well as our physical health too. So to keep those bad habits away, and keep us active we need to think SMART.
But what do we mean when we say SMART goals? Well, SMART goals are a great way to break down our long term plans and aspirations in more manageable and bitesize chunks, helping us to not only track our progress and stay motivated but also to learn to enjoy and celebrate the process of achieving our goals. Including all the little goals we set ourselves along the way!
We also highlighted the importance of mixing things up. Active people are probably the worst for sticking to routine but sometimes it is actually ok to switch things up and try new ways of doing things. As long as we remain, specific and purposeful trying new locations, workouts, heading outdoors in the daylight, or planning time to focus on recovery are all great ways to break the winter grind whilst still proactively moving towards your goals.
Fast forward a week and we ran an in depth exposés on Vitamin D aka ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’ which you can catch up on by clicking the link – here. Vitamin D happens to be one of the most important vitamins in the human body, playing a role in a whole host of critical body systems and it’s during the winter months (in the northern hemisphere in particular) that our body’s ability to produce Vitamin D on its own is severely limited.
Fun fact, although classified as a vitamin, Vitamin D3 cleverly transforms into a hormone in the body and circulates in the bloodstream which is why it is able to play a role in a variety of key body systems. For example, Vitamin D helps regulate and action the absorption of calcium and phosphorous which is perhaps its most vital function.
If that whet your appetite for a bit of science – head over to the article and give it a read now. Just click – here.
Our final stop on our winter journey was another one-stop-shop guide but this time all about Sports Nutrition for the Winter Months.
The first thing that a lot of people don’t know is that exercising over the winter months will actually demand far more energy than you probably realise as our body battles not only against the stress and strain of the exercise or activity itself, but also our external environment too.
Not only does the volume and frequency of training increase over the winter months as we’ve already mentioned but our body is also under constant pressure from the cold, dark, wind, rain… you get the gist.
It’s fair to say then that our body is going to be taking a battering over the next few months and in our humble opinion, optimising your diet and nutrition (remember these are two very different things) during this time can be the difference between keeping active comfortably and well, not doing so!
In this blog we tackle all things winter nutrition to help give you the kick start that your winter training needs to get you in the best shape. This one is pretty good if we do say so ourselves and you can check it now over on the U Perform blog. Click here!
And just when you thought we couldn’t have any more top drawer information for you, we even got U Perform co-founders Professor Greg Whyte OBE and James Greenwell, together for a very special winter training special which is now available on our YouTube channel for you to watch in its Full HD glory.
How to Beat the Winter Grind
with U Perform co-founders Greg & James
What are your top tips for winter training? Let us know in the comments below 👇 Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media @uperformuk
Don’t forget to share this with someone who you know would benefit from reading this. The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other.