2011-10-04

Let the Winter Training Begin

One of the most important - and most entertaining - parts of any training regimen is Winter training.

For the dedicated distance runner, Winter weather conditions can provide a nature-enforced cross-training period. This is a chance to build up some of your neglected muscle groups, such as your upper body muscles and your stabilizers. This is also a chance to take a break from all the pavement-pounding and give your joints a reprieve. These things are an important component of any year-round commitment to fitness. Undertaking the variety inherent in a Winter training regimen will also offer you a vital lifeline to the non-running world, where you can intermingle with the less-masochistic segments of society.

For everyone else, Winter training is an opportunity to work on developing a good looking body; to prime yourself up for that Springtime beach vacation, as it were.

You've Got the Look
Now, I am not one to advocate fitness for the sake of beauty. First of all, I think body-building is silly. But most of all, I think it is extremely important to separate positive feelings from negative ones.

What do I mean? Well, it is not uncommon for people to feel that they "must" go to the gym in order to maintain their figure, or in order to "get hot" for the sake of another person or group of people. I associate these kinds of feelings with feelings of fundamental inadequacy. If you think exercise is your ticket to being beautiful, then by assumption you are not beautiful if you don't exercise.

That's a terrible reason to exercise. Fitness should be about making yourself feel better, not worse.

So, while it's a good idea to hit the gym to get yourself looking and feeling better, it's a bad idea to use physical appearance as your primary source of motivation. It shouldn't even be a significant one.

Instead
Instead, fitness can be your connection to the active pursuits you maintain in warmer periods. You may not be able to get outside and go for the two-hour run you might look forward to during the Summer, because it's too darn cold out there! But what you can do is plan for next season's long runs by improving your flexibility, core strength, posture, and body symmetry. It's not about how you look, it's about making the most of your favorite activities!

If that doesn't get you going (and how couldn't it?), you can always use your daily Wintertime trip to the gym as a way to just get out of the house, out of the office, out of the flourescent lights and re-circulated air, and into a place where people are moving around and accomplishing something.

Let's face it, Canadian winters are long and arduous. Many of us have the knack for fabulous outdoor winter sports like skiing and skating, but some of us are too skinny, too cold, and too diabetic to spend a lot of time outdoors in the cold. (And I really wish I could do it.) People like me might never be able to cross-country ski like a champ, but what we can do is channel our efforts into exercising at the gym.

A Look Ahead
In the forthcoming months, I'll be providing some ideas for working out at the gym, to help you get the most of your Winter training. I'll also be engaging in a personal journey to conquer my loathing of Canadian winters. Will this be the year I finally don't mind getting outside and taking advantage of what Canada has to offer during those other nine months of the year? I certainly hope so.

Perhaps you can share your ideas with me, too, and we can all learn.