Curing the February “Holiday Hangover”


Ugh, February, you make my head hurt. The motivational “high” of the New Year is wearing off, and (for us Northern Hemisphere dwellers) it’s still so cold and dark at 6 a.m. So how do you stay on track with your training after this “holiday hangover”?

People are motivated in different ways and by different things. The key is to find what gets you out of bed and into your running or cycling shoes with the same “umph” that pushes you when your A race is right there on your doorstep. Below are some tips and tricks to get you through this delicate time of the year.

Post It  

Studies show that people are 33% more successful at attaining goals when those goals are written down. But take this a step further and post your written goals. Don’t just put them down in the bottom corner of your bathroom mirror where house guests won’t see them, but put them in places that are meaningful and effective to you. Is your goal nutrition-related? Post the goal in your kitchen. Do you have a specific race time goal? Write it out and post it near your bike trainer or treadmill. Do you have a hard time heading out for a lunchtime run? Post your goals on your computer monitor. (If you write small enough your co-workers will have no idea what they are. Trust me on this one).

Having a frequent visual reminder of what you want to achieve months down the road can help you stay on the straight line. Take this a step further and create a “Goal Board”. Fill a cork board with your written goals, pictures that represent attaining that goal, and other things that get you moving and motivated. Once that’s done, put it someplace useful, like on the wall directly in front of your bike trainer so it’s staring you in the face while you tick off endless miles.

Let the music take control… 

”Let the rhythm move you”. Use different media channels to get you going. If you work out with music, refresh your play list. Chances are you’ve been listening to the same stuff for quite a while. Or, look back years into your past for songs that were motivational tools and resurrect them. Do you have a hard time getting out of bed to swim? Create a playlist specifically for the early morning drive to the pool. Do you look at your bike trainer and shudder? Start a list of movies you’ve been meaning to watch, hop on your trainer, and get work done. I dare anyone to watch “Miracle” without being moved. If you are more of a TV person, DVR a show that you enjoy and save it for times you are on the trainer or treadmill. And finally, compile a list of short clips on YouTube that motivate. I have a list of commercials and other short videos that I watch when I need a reminder that the work put in now will have a direct impact on my goals, though my races are months in the future. There’s a lot to be said about the power of training with no external distractions, but sometimes you need some extra help to push through motivation slumps.

Spice It Up!

Make smaller, short-term goals. Find early-season races or events to participate in during this time of year that you enjoy and have positive effects on your big goals down the road. Sign up for a swim meet. Embrace the cold and do a snowshoe race. Race an indoor triathlon. Sign up for a Computrainer class. Do an early-season TT. The potential is endless if you open your mind to things outside your go-to sport.

Track it. Keep tracking your workouts in TrainingPeaks. Use the Dashboard feature to see your training progress week by week. Get into the Fitness History chart and see if your fitness is improving over time. Or, if you have thresholds set within TrainingPeaks, make sure you have our Threshold Improvement Notifications turned on so that you can be sure to know when we detect an improvement in your fitness. The TrainingPeaks Dashboard is a great way to see the forest for the trees. Not using the Dashboard? Watch this video to get started.

The bottom line is, it’s much easier to be motivated when you can see the work you’re putting in – and the progress you’re making.

Build Knowledge 

Take advantage of these race-free weekends and extra time to learn about different aspects of sport. This is a great opportunity to work on mental strength. Not sure where to start? Check out this webinar: “Dave Scott’s Mental Training Tactics and Race Day Strategies of World Champions”.

The progress you make now on your mental game will help your training down the road. Don’t wait until race season to start thinking about this, get started now. This is also a great time to learn about training with power or heart rate. Discover how to unlock the tools of your device and carry that knowledge into your race season. Understanding power or HR as it relates to your training makes analyzing your workout data in TrainingPeaks even more fun!

It’s unrealistic to expect 100% motivation every day of the year. But if you have a stash of ideas, tools and tricks to conquer those rough patches, you are prepared to get over this season of Holiday Hangover.

Now I want to hear from you – did you feel the effect of the holiday hangover this month? What tricks or tools are you using to stay motivated during February?

About the Author

Melissa Schwartz

Melissa Schwartz leads the Education Department at TrainingPeaks. In her 3.5 years with the company, Melissa has specialized in educating and supporting endurance sports professionals who use the TrainingPeaks Coach Edition product. She is a former All-American swimmer and water polo player, and now spends her athletic time doing triathlon, running marathons, and harboring a secret love affair with golf. She's also a USAT certified coach and enjoys helping fellow moms see their athletic potential. Follow Melissa on Twitter.

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