Beat your winter blues! Here is how!
Our Blueseventy athlete George Taplin has good tips on how to stay motivated and focused during the winter period! George, aged 21, is an open water swimmer and triathlete. Last year he broke the record for swimming all the lakes in the lake district in 3 days (13 lakes, 71km).
B70: George, how do you stay motivated during the winter period?
George: The winter period can feel especially challenging for open water swimmers, with cold water discouraging longer swims and sometimes changing a swim into more of a dip (that said I do enjoy a cold-water dip!). This is also a period where open water events are a long way away and can result in open water swimmers losing their sense of direction in the sport. One strategy I have adopted to maintain motivation through the winter is to plan your main goals for the summer, and then to think of some process goals to work on throughout the winter to help you achieve your main goal. Having some structure to your winter training based around these process goals can spark some motivation and improvements in the depth of winter. For me, this involved developing my threshold pace to allow me to swim quick enough over the long-distance swims – what will your process goals be
B70: How do you maintain training focus during winter (mental and physical prep) especially when it’s quieter?
George: I have always been a firm believer in winter being the time to build the engine before fine tuning before the summer challenges. As a result, my outlook on winter training is of the same priority and importance as spring/summer training. One way this is facilitated is by training in a team of others with a similar goal to yours, allowing you to generate momentum together throughout winter.
B70: Do you set goals if so what sort of goals do you set?
George: My goal setting process involves setting the ultimate goal, and then figuring out a few process goals that will help me achieve this. My goals in open water swimming are rapidly shifting between ultra-distance swims, and shorter faster races such as the 5km and 10km. It’s particularly important to have clear process goals in certain blocks to allow for you to specify your training to meet the demands of the chosen event.
B70: Do you change training during the winter period?
George: The nature of my winter training varies greatly depending on my objectives for the following season. In the winter of 2019/2020, I was completing more strength exercises to help prepare for the 71km Lakes swim later that year. This winter I have been focusing on developing my swim speed and economy ahead of some triathlons events I’m racing at the start of the year. I think it’s important to be working on those process goals over winter to make sure you best prepared for your individual events in summer.
B70: How do you find a balance between keeping fit and the festive period?
George: Since moving into open water swimming and away from the pool competition calendar I have far less pressure surrounding fitness maintenance over the Christmas period. I have found that a couple of weeks of socialising and change in diet across Christmas doesn’t have a long lasting effect and is in fact an important break in the winter period to recharge before starting the next training phase in the new year.
B70: Any advice on winter training with an injury/and or recovering from an injury?
George: Having broken my arm on a Christmas morning cycle ride, this January through to March I quickly learnt many of the challenges of recovering from an injury and trying to maintain fitness.
Here are my three take home points from the journey:
1) Accept the recovery process isn’t linear and will take time
2) Get outside! Whilst you may not be able to run/cycle/swim or perform your sport outside, take a walk as it can provide a vital break and give you knew perspective
3) Focus on what you can control. Find any activity that you enjoy and can-do pain free and commit to doing it. It’ll give you a new sense of purpose and give you new goals
B70: George, what are your plans for 2022?
George: I am currently investigating an ultra-distance swim for next summer which I can’t reveal yet, however as soon as it gets the go ahead I will! Aside from this, I’m hoping to get back up to the Lake District for some open water swims, and to race a few Olympic distance triathlons.
B70: Thanks for the interview, George, hopefully your plans become true!