Autumn • Seasonal Training


Now that the clocks have changed, here in the UK it feels as if summer was a long time ago and Autumn is in full swing. For a lot of people, this marks their off-season of outdoor training, either retreating to the indoor gym or the sanctuary of the sofa. Wind, rain, cold and frost can be seen as signals to bed-in and hibernate because, as humans, we are naturally drawn to comfort and seek it every chance we get.

With the arrival of autumn, energy levels change and the expansion of summer gives way to a contraction as we head towards Winter. I find there is an abundance about this time of year, I always remember the Harvest festival celebrations we had at school and nature offers the last hurrah before shutting up shop for Winter - there’s apples and plums on the trees, berries, root vegetables, pumpkins. This analogy of reaping what we’ve sown can be seen in our own lives; as the nights draw in it is a time of slowing down, and reflecting on how my earlier choices are impacting me now.

A mantra that I’ve been embracing is ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’.

We live in a modern zoo where we don’t get nearly as much movement or exposure to the environment as we need to keep healthy so we have to make conscious decisions that appear counter-intuitive. Going out in inclement weather is just one such choice and it is as much a test of your physical ability as it is your mental fortitude; I have to re-frame it in that way otherwise it just feels like unnecessary and unenjoyable punishment.

Cold weather outdoor training is a gift to step outside our comfort zone and face being uncomfortable. It is about embracing the unpredictability of the season, how harsh it can be and how changeable it is. I look outside and am sure it’s going to be a crisp, sunny day, only for it to turn on me a couple of hours later and deciding to drench me instead. It is easy to mistake it as madness, and turn up the heating but, from my own experience, I’d call it character building.

Here’s some things I notice about the difference in training as Autumn arrives:

  • I pay extra attention to surfaces before I train to check for slipperiness / mud / moss / puddles.

  • I find that it can be harder to judge distances and landings when it’s very grey outside or at dusk.

  • My grip is very changeable depending on how cold my fingers are and how slippy something is; I can’t rely on it as much.

  • My ability to focus isn’t as consistent and is affected by standing in the cold and thinking about how cold I am instead of what I’m doing.

  • I don’t want to go full power at something if I think there’s a chance I might slip because it’s wet; I prefer smaller, more technical training when the weather’s really grim.

  • Motivating myself is generally harder, but I feel more satisfied coming home after training knowing I didn’t just give up and give in to being warm and cosy.

  • Sometimes I choose to do short but high-intensity sessions as a compromise if I really don’t want to go out.

  • I have a merino wool base layer which is perfect because I’d be really annoyed if I got hypothermia from sweating out in the cold.

To celeberate the change of season, it feels like the perfect time to learn something new, start a new hobby or brush up on an old one. Here’s what Autumn is looking like for me :

COURSES | Thank you internet for all you do! I’m old enough to remember life with dial-up and I’m so grateful we live in a world where we can connect to so many creators and learn so many things.
i. The first is Parkour EDU’s ‘Art of falling’ online course which comprehensively covers all the ways you can learn to fall safely to minimise the chances of bad injuries when training.
ii. I’m jumping on the Wim Hof wagon and have his 10 week online course on my wish list. As someone who’s struggled to deal with the cold every year since I can remember, his radical approach to it through mind over matter appeals to me, even though embracing the cold feels very alien.

KEEP WARM | There are things to consider when training outside in the cold and to take precautions against getting a chill. For me, I pop a couple of extra layers in my bag and wear a haramaki to keep my core warm. My pair of winter house socks have nearly worn away and I’m not very good at darning so I’m on the lookout for a new pair and these British made 100% wool look very cosy.

JOURNAL | I like to keep a training journal and notes on my current goals and what I’m working towards. I thought I would eventually arrive at the perfect plan but it just keeps evolving. Now is a great time to reevaluate your goals and achievements and start to turn your throughts towards next year and what you plan on doing. I haven’t set my intentions or made my list for next year yet, but when I do I’ll write about some of the things I like to include, to keep me focused and also accountable.

DRINK | I am so happy with this water bottle that I bought in the height of summer because it does a great job keeping things cold in summer and hot in winter. I make a herbal tea and take it out with me training, and it warms me up and rehydrates me. I’ve noticed that as it gets colder, I barely want to drink anything cold even if I’m really thirsty, so it’s the perfect solution.

SLEEP | As the nights draw in I naturally find I want to sleep more and my energy is lower than in the summertime. I try to get at least 8 hours if I can. Some people claim it’s the best health tip out there - and, if that is the case, it’s even better because it’s free for everyone.

- F