Written for Eladon by one of our Elagen Sport Ambassadors, Helen Russell.
About the author
Helen is the current overall British Quadrathlon Champion and British Quadrathlon Trophy Series winner. She is also the current middle distance World Quadrathlon champion in her age group and the 2018 age group World Cup Series winner and sprint distance World Champion. Before turning to quadrathlon, Helen was age group World and European Duathlon champion and European Triathlon champion. In 2015 she was part of the One Day Ahead team, which raised £1m for Cure Leukaemia by riding the entire route of the Tour de France one day ahead of the pros. You can follow her on Twitter via @helengoth.
Keeping Fit in the Winter
As a competitive multi-sport athlete it is essential that I keep training through the winter. Consistency through the winter months translates into summer race results – a saying in the race community is “winter miles means summer smiles!” However, it isn’t easy to keep active in the winter as it can be hard to stay motivated when it’s cold and wet outside and we can be susceptible to colds and viruses which can put a halt to training.
Below are some of my top tips on how to keep fit during the winter. This year, during COVID-19 it may not be possible to try out all these ideas but hopefully you will be able to give some of them a try and can plan to do some others when the restrictions lift.
1) WINTER SPORTS
It is often said that there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing! To some extent this is true but due to bad weather conditions it can sometimes be dangerous to train outdoors. I have a number of friends who have broken bones due to cycling in icy conditions. One way to keep active outdoors through the winter is to embrace winter sports.
This doesn’t necessitate travelling to the ski slopes, as there are a number of winter sports in the UK, such as cross country running or cyclo-cross that are vying to become Winter Olympic disciplines. Some of you may still have nightmares about school cross-country but off-road running is a great all body workout and you can even do it in the snow. To enter some cross-country events, you need to be a member of a running club but there are plenty of open off-road races across the UK and lots of Park Runs are off-road. Cyclo-cross is basically the cycling equivalent of cross-country running, where cyclists cover courses that typically involve lots of mud, a variety of terrain and sometimes obstacles. The sport is growing in popularity as many road cyclists use it as a way of keeping fit and improving bike handling skills over the winter, which means that there are races all over the country including a number for beginners. To find out more, look at the British Cycling Race Calendar.
2) COLD THERAPY
Lots of people are embracing cold water swimming as a way of keeping fit through the winter. There are an increasing number of organised cold water swim venues, which offer the opportunity to swim either with or without a wetsuit in a supervised setting. The idea behind cold water therapy is that it makes your body more resilient and boosts immune function. The cold water supposedly encourages the release of bodies that are necessary to protect our immune system such as cytokines.
Obviously this should only be done under controlled circumstances, such as an organised swim but you can try cold water therapy in spas, where there are often plunge pools or just by taking a cold shower or bath.
Sports people always need to eat healthily as training can put a strain on our immune systems. This is even more important in the winter when there are more illnesses circulating. We tend to drink less water in the winter as we favour warm drinks but make sure you keep hydrated. If you do want a warm drink, then hot water with ginger and lemon is a great winter beverage.
There are a number of foods that can boost your immune system including garlic, ginger, turmeric, sweet potatoes for vitamin A, citrus fruit for vitamin C and fish or beef for zinc. You can also take supplements to give your immune systems a boost. I take Elagen Sport and Immuno 29, which is a mix of 29 essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including Vitamin D. As an age group athlete I know that Elagen Sport isn't just for elite athletes, it's for everyone that pushes their bodies to go faster. As I get older and am competing in the Vet category, I have also started to take Eladon's Joint Formula to help care for my joints and improve joint mobility.
5) SET GOALS
The best way to stay motivated to train through the winter is to set goals for the spring and summer. The winter is a great time to start thinking about what you want to achieve over the coming year, whether it’s your first triathlon, an endurance challenge or completing Couch to 5k. Having a goal will help keep you focussed and is the ideal motivation to keep going even when the weather is nasty!
6) ESCAPE TO THE SUN
Due to the lack of sun, most people in the UK don’t get enough vitamin D in the winter. One way to boost your dose is obviously to spend some time in warmer climes! Most professional sportspeople have a period of warm weather training during the winter and whilst most of us can’t escape for as long as the professionals, a week or two of sport in the sun can do wonders for our health and motivation. This year during the pandemic it is harder to be able to get overseas but hopefully by next winter we will be able to travel more freely, so think about where you would like to go. I’m already dreaming of returning to my favourite training destination - the Costa Blanca in Spain, next winter!