Experienced adventure racer David Power shares his thoughts on how to keep active during the winter with some ideas for you to try over the new year.

Winter is a great time to be an adventure racer. The days might be shorter and you mightn’t get away in a t-shirt and shorts, but there are still tons of options to keep fit and explore the great outdoors. Over the years I’ve kept active without injury by mixing my sports throughout the year and mentally recharging my batteries by trying different things. Here are my top 5 tips to keep you ready for that first race of 2015:

  1. Mountain biking: cycling your road bike through the winter can be difficult if snow, ice, wind and rain combine to make the roads treacherous. Your fingers & toes can freeze up and you ask yourself “is it worth it?” Plus it can take 15 minutes to go through the routine of getting dressed! Instead, head for the trails, forests and hills on your mountain bike. Mountain biking is perfect for Irish winters – there are more and more cross-country routes and single trails across the country, plus its easy to rent a bike now.
  2. Hiking or mountain running: those crisp, clear, chilly but sunny winter mornings can be a great chance to explore your nearest mountain. Pick up an OS map, so you know the route and go explore the trails. My Sunday long run is my favorite – I’ve explored parts of the Wicklow Way Trail, the Dublin Mountain Trail and lots in between. You’ll see some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery and not a tourist in sight! Remember to bring a jacket, water, food.
  3. Cooking: food is fuel right? Nutrition is essential to keep you going, so take the time this winter to cook more fresh food. Cook books are great Christmas stocking fillers, but even if you didn’t get one, go out and snap one up in the sales. Check our Derval O’Rourke’s book “Food for the Fast Lane” for starters. Instead of buying a sandwich for lunch in Centra every day, why not make your own salad the night before? It’s cheaper, tastes better and way more nutritious. Same goes for snacks: make flapjacks, smoothies, nuts – instead of buying expensive processed bars or gels.
  4. Try something new: they say when you stop learning; you might as well give up. So, try something completely new: a sport, a language, a skill. Take rock climbing lessons, do a cooking course, learn Spanish, pick up a book, try kayaking or canoeing, go surfing, start painting or drawing. Our brains are so powerful and want to keep learning. There’s such an adrenaline release and buzz of satisfaction when you conquer a skill you couldn’t do last year.
  5. Pick a target: start 2017 by writing down a bold goal and then figuring out the little steps that will help get you there. Mark it on the wall calendar. Tell someone. All this helps make it real so you commit to it. Maybe it’s doing the Expert distance Quest Killarney Adventure Race in October. If so, you’ll need to pick smaller goals for the spring and summer, such as doing a few shorter races, or improving your kayaking skills or joining a cycling or running club. You can read so much on motivation, goal setting, performance and success – be inspired by others but also recognise when you’ve achieved a goal: go celebrate!