Coaching, Training, Camps.

Keeping Motivated When the Weather Turns Bad
by Colleen Sager

Now that racing season is under way, and every part of the country is facing the strangest weather we’ve seen in many years, it seems appropriate to talk about how to get and stay motivated when the weather conditions are less than ideal.

I’m sure most of you know the horrific weather conditions that plagued this year’s Boston Marathon runners.  It’s not just the Boston Marathon the weather is reeking havoc on, Major League Baseball has had more postponed games in the 24 days since opening day, than they had in the entire season last year.  At this point in the season, despite the weather, quitting or not showing up for a race that you have invested so much in, is not an option so, the purpose of this blog is to get you mentally prepared for those days.

There will probably be very few blogs that I write when I don’t recommend imagery or visualization, here are some ideas of what to visualize when it comes to weather:

  • Start the night before a race or a training session, sit in your room quietly and visualize how you are going to prepare for the weather, and what you need to do to overcome it (i.e., do what gear do you need? Is it going to be cold? Hot? Wet? Windy?). Visualize what you need to be prepared.
  • If rain is in the forecast, visualize how your squishy shoes are going to feel under your feet.
  • One image I have from watching the Boston Marathon are the people running with plastic ponchos on. I’d be willing to bet no one practices running in a plastic poncho but if that’s something you are going to wear, imagine what that’s going to feel like on your skin.
  • Triathletes, really spend a lot of time visualizing your transition. Do you have more articles of clothing to put on to keep warm and dry than you normally would? Visualize your self being focused on right here, right now, not distracted or annoyed by the weather.
  • Visualize yourself dealing with the weather as the mentally tough athlete you are.

If you are not racing, and in training mode, give yourself a set number of miles or a time limit to see if the weather is as bad as it seems before you decide to call it quits.  An example of this, a client of mine recently wanted to get out and ride his bike and it was supposed to be pretty cold that day. The group he usually rides with bailed on him, so he was riding by himself.  He decided to ride in a neighborhood close to his house that has a 7-mile loop around the neighborhood.  He did a loop a few times knowing that when he decided he was too cold, it was a pretty quick ride home, so he could call it quits whenever he was over it.  It wasn’t the most ideal ride of the week, but he got out and said he wasn’t as bored as he would have been on the trainer…he admitted he wasn’t as warm either. Training in non-ideal weather like this, will help your mental toughness on race day when the weather isn’t ideal.

When it’s race day, do what you can to take your mind off the weather when you can. The reason I say, “when you can” is there are definitely times you need to be focused on the weather.  For example, if you’re cycling, and have a turn coming up, stay focused on the turn, and keeping up right.  When you need to take your mind off the weather:

  • Talk to yourself. Keep it happy, light and fun. Remind yourself you are doing this sport for fun, even though today might not feel that way.
  • Seriously.  What’s your cadence at?  Count your steps. Focus on just your right foot for 50 counts, then your left.
  • Sing your favorite song to yourself.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to weather is that it’s completely out of your control.  Freaking out about it isn’t going to do you any good. Control what you can.  You can control your mood, you can decide to make the best of the situation, and you can be prepared to train or race in whatever Mother Nature throws at you. 

Colleen Sager, M.S.
Owner, Mind Games Pro Performance Consulting