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How to Design a Winter Challenge to Beat the Off-Season Blues

BY Steven Moody

Running streaks are just one of the many training challenges you can use to beat the off-season blues. Here are a few tips to make your winter challenge as fun and fulfilling as possible.

Winter training is upon us, but fear not, intrepid athletes. Winter need not be devoid of fun; you just need to get a little creative in how you train. An easy way to keep things spicy? A winter or holiday challenge designed to keep you engaged. Here’s how to create a challenge that will bring a bit of levity to an otherwise dull season. 

Step 1: Find Your Challenge 

Watching all of the Star Wars movies in a single setting is impressive, but it’s not going to help your splits. Pick a challenge that will improve you as an athlete, like a run streak or swim streak targeting, say, 40 km in a single month. Or maybe you can rack up the Zwift meters to get the coveted Tron wheels!

Important: Set yourself a stretch goal but build up to it gradually. The last thing you want is an overuse injury by trying to achieve your goal in the first five days. 

Step 2: Get Your Mates Involved

Let’s not forget that we are competitive animals — especially us athletes. Getting your mates involved means the odds of you quitting the challenge mid-way are much lower! It’s also much more fun to train with pals, especially when there’s some good light-hearted banter to boot. 

Step 3: Track and Brag

Once you’ve got your mates involved, make sure that everyone can track their training so there is accountability and a bit of competition. This can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as sophisticated as a Strava group to allow people to see each other’s progress and to create some form of a leaderboard. Watch the comments fly as quickly as the stats go up!

Step 4: Celebrate the Wins!

My club, the Piranha Triathlon Club, does all of the above for a November swim challenge and it does get competitive. And why? For the glory of winning the coveted swim goggles trophy (actually not a trophy but simply new goggles!), mainly because they come draped in the accompanying bragging rights for the beginner/intermediate and advanced categories! 

Make a big deal out of who wins, who’s the top newcomer, and who’s most improved from the last challenge, and hit your favorite local pub for the prize giving. You never know — it could become an annual tradition!

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About Steven Moody

Steven Moody has starred in the corporate rat race but found that his greatest source of satisfaction came from his 20 years of endurance racing including numerous IRONMAN finishes and world championship qualifications.

Realising this, Steven abandoned his cubicle and moved into full-time coaching. Steven is now Tri Sutto, IRONMAN UNIVERSITY ®, ITU and Training Peaks Level 2 certified. He was awarded Triathlon Ireland Coach of the year in 2017. Browse his pre-built training plans by clicking here, or if you have triathlon queries you can contact him via


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