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How to stay motivated during winter training

Published 4 December 2019. Written by Chris Worfolk.

Cycling in winter

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the nights are quickly drawing in, the temperature is dropping and the triathlon season feels like a distant memory. How do we keep ourselves motivated?

In this article, I will present some ideas. Start by picking one; you do not have to use all of them.

Do what you feel like

Much of the season is built around structured training, perhaps provided by a coach or a programme. This approach is the best way to get results in the lead up to a race. But this is the winter. Have some fun. Give yourself permission to be a bit less strict before next year’s blocks start.

Make it a competition

There are plenty of races over winter. Few triathlons but plenty of cross country runs, cyclocross races and maybe even some duathlons. Keeping it competitive keeps us on our toes.

Set a winter goal

Target something specific this winter. Maybe it is improving your swim stroke. Or perhaps finally doing some strength training or working on your nutrition and learning some sport psychology.

Make it a SMART goal, like “I will swim three times per week in January and February” or “I will read one textbook and implement the strategies from it”. Then, spend winter working towards that goal, with a deadline, just like a race.

Train inside

Don’t fancy going out in the cold? Train indoors, instead. Get a turbo trainer and a training app, or maybe just a subscription to Netflix. If you have a nearby gym, you could run inside, too, or do some strength work.

Now might be a good time to give spin a go. Many “serious” triathletes will turn their nose up at spin. But they can be good fun when you are not working towards a specific race, especially if you can find one with a good instructor and good music.

Get some winter gear

If you still want to train outside, it is worth investing in some proper winter gear. Wool socks, base layers, heavy-duty gloves and warm jackets will all make training outside a whole lot more pleasant.

I hate cold and wet feet, so for me, spending £70 on some top-quality overshoes is a sound investment to not be miserable for three months.

Do group sessions

Training with a local club will help you in several ways. If you commit to turning up to something, you are more likely than if you decide to do it privately. And, when you get there, there will be friendly faces to cheer you up.

If you don’t have a club, no problem. How about a local gym? Most have drop-in group classes that you can book.

Book next year’s races

Few things motivate us like a goal. Getting next years A race(s) booked in will give you something to dream out when you are out in the cold and the rain.

If registration has not opened yet, put the opening date in the calendar and commit to registering straight away. That will make it feel real.


Goals, competition, variety and fun are the foundations of training motivation. There are plenty of ways we can add these into our plan to make ourselves excited about our winter training.

And that is the key: which of the strategies above will make you excited? Find it, implement it and enjoy the next few months.