How I’m motivating myself in December.

Training wise November was a very hit and miss month for me with motivation floundering. I didn’t mind too much because let’s be honest – if you’re going to have a quiet month November seems like the perfect time but after a non-existent October of training too I was keen to get myself back into a routine for December. In order to give myself the kick up the bum needed I decided to set myself some challenges.

1. Run up to Christmas

The challenge started as wanting to run every day of Advent. No pressures on distances, pace or time per day but to run every day. It got off to a tough start because the 1st December was a dry Sunday and I did my longest bike ride for a while and I haven’t run off the bike since Weymouth 70.3 but I did a mile and a half and haven’t looked back since.

On the same day I also discovered an online running event called “Run up to Christmas.” I paid £14 to enter and all the proceeds go to Mind. You don’t have to run every day to complete the challenge, it is a distance event and you get a medal based on the distance you manage to run between the 1st and 24th December. I set my target at 50km but I’ve shocked myself at how quickly the mileage has built up and as I write this (on the 12th December) I have already surpassed my target.

I spent the 2nd and 3rd December in Richmond, London so it was nice to get a change of scene straight away and spent some time running through the leaves on the towpath there before coming back home and having some blustery runs along the coast.

There have however been some dark evening runs on the treadmill. I’ve been trying to keep these interesting by selecting the pre-made workouts on the treadmill and listening to various podcasts. (My favourite at the minute is Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed – hilarious.)

The challenge went well for the first two weeks not missing a day but once I’d hit my target I did allow myself to cut back on the running to make sure I was getting my swims and bike session is and of course to make sure I had tine to actually enjoy the festivities too.

In total I ran 50 miles between the 1st and 24th December so I’m absolutely chuffed with that as normally I struggle with running injuries. My longest run was 8 miles and my shortest run just 1 mile long. I learnt that little and often seems to be the best approach for me when increasing run milage so on reflection I’m really glad I entered this event and I’m looking forward to receiving my medal in the post.

2. Rapha festive 500.

This was David’s idea. He’s injured from running at the moment and I think he felt a bit left out of the whole December challenge thing and not one to miss out I’ve said I will try to do it too.

So when the Run up to Christmas challenge ends on the 24th December this challenge begins and runs up until the 31st December. Between these dates the challenge is to ride 500KM on your bike. Outside. On the road.

This will be a much bigger challenge for me than the running for 2 main reasons: Time and the weather!

To complete this challenge you need to cycle about 38miles per day. I already know that I will be hungover on the 24th, I want Christmas Day off and have various commitments on a few of the other days so there will have to be a few big days in the saddle. I don’t mind the rain too much (I did manage the biblical rain of Ironman Ireland after all) but if we have any icy or stormy weather on the days where I need to get the big rides done it will be game over for me!

Factoring in the above with the fact that I’m not sure how motivated I will be to spend every day in the saddle (if you know, you know) as well as the fact that I genuinely don’t know if I’ve got enough cycling kit to wrap myself up for winter riding every day (we don’t have a tumble dryer) it is a very real possibility that I won’t manage this challenge but I’ve managed to rope in my training buddy, Bryanie to join me so who knows, I’m excited to give it a go. I’m looking forward to chats and coffee and cake stops even if we don’t actually hit the 500km mark. There’s something about giving yourself a challenge where you are honestly not sure if it’s achievable that I love and which is how I’m sure, a lot of us ended up in this sport in the first place!

Does anybody have any tips for me? I’ve got overshoes, gloves and a few heavy winter jackets. I’ve changed my tyres and I’m going to order some lights for my bike but is there anything else that I should put on Santa’s list?!

If anyone fancies some cycling over Christmas in the Cardigan area let me know. (@niangharadavies) Bryanie and myself will be riding at about 13-15mph depending on the route (and how far into the challenge we are!) but David and Rhys will be slightly faster (about the 18mph mark). I’m sure we’ll be grateful of the company!

So, thoughts? Will I manage it? Anybody else taking on any Winter challenges?

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