The nights are drawing in, weather turning colder and the promise of damp training sessions lay ahead. Dependant on your activity choice, this could be your natural offseason, where you reflect on what was achieved throughout the year and make goals or are emerging ready to take on nature in the more challenging months. What ever your goal, aim or motivation, here are 5 tips which will see you through the months ahead.
1 – Don’t fight nature
You’re headed out to tackle that mixed route you’ve waited all year to come good or that long run you “must” get done. The temperature is bitter, the windchill is piercing and its raining. It may feel like the only opportunity or your winter program will suffer if you don’t head out that second. However the reality is you could end up have an epic that sets you back or worse. Pick your weather windows wisely. You can always do something at a lower level, head to the gym, pound the streets. The route, rapid or run will be there tomorrow.
2 – The 5 P’s
Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. It’s the time of year for pulling out down jackets, spare layers, extra food and that multi coloured pom beanie you bought last season and never dared to wear. Plan your routes, pay special attention to day light hours, have a plan B, inform someone you’re headed into the mountains. Proper preparation also means if the conditions aren’t right, you can adapt and move something forward and push that adventure back. The less pressure you are under, the more you can focus on experiencing being outdoors.
3 – It’s better to take too much
We all want to travel light. We’re faster and freer without a pack full of kit, but this isn’t a time of year to skimp. Survival bag, whistle, spare layer, hat, gloves, windproofs/waterproofs, extra food, head torch (with spare batteries) and a map/compass are something I will never enter the mountains without. Yes, the majority of this should be carried in the summer, however, if you’re tempted to thin out your kit, now is not the time to do it.
4 – Navigation
I’m as guilty as anyone to say in the summer I seldom look at a map, and even rarer pull out my compass. Winter conditions are a lot less consistent and when things hit the fan, the consequences have the potential to be more severe. Whether you practice on an low terrain or book yourself onto a refresher, its one skill that should be practiced throughout the season. If a white out hits, you want to know how to take a bearing and get yourself out, that is, if you know where you are to begin with.
5 – No pressure
Smile. Don’t forget to smile. I know I can be hard on myself, knowing what I have planned in the summer and thinking I have to make every single time I head out count. The reality is, you’ll learn from your mistakes and quality beats quantity any day. As said earlier, the route will be there the next day, week or month. Its a time to smile, see mountain ranges caked in a layer of snow that makes even the humble Lake District look like a alpine valley. Above all else enjoy yourself, coming in to a warm house or pub after a day out never felt so good.