Is January the Toughest Month of the Year?

After a festive December, it is time to get back into a good routine of training.

Jan. 9, 2019

After a festive December, it is time to get back into a good routine of training. However, with the passing of the winter solstice and the days slowly becoming longer again, it is possible to become too motivated, especially now you’ve entered a few events which really don’t see too far away. For athletes based in the Northern Hemisphere, the tough winter weather also plays it part in making January the hardest month for XTERRA athletes.  

So, how do we combat this? The simple answer is to slow down and not rush your training. Remember that the XTERRA season is long and after Maui you need time to recover before building back up to proper fitness. 

January for many is the symbolic start of ‘serious’ training for the upcoming season, but you must build gradually. Perhaps increasing volume or intensity every week to avoid injury, and to periodize your training to target peak fitness in the summer and not the first week of April! 

With the cold and wet weather, biking can be difficult. Make good, safe decisions about whether it’s ok to go outside or better to stay inside to complete a turbo session or yoga and stretching, rather than risk getting ill from being cold and wet for two hours.  

Athletes should also pay close attention to their diet at this time of year. After eating too much turkey and mince pies, your body will be working hard to digest and excrete any toxins consumed over the festive break. 

We suggest that you take one week to concentrate on eating well to cleanse the body, boost your immune system and to help prepare you for some good training. 

-    Reduce animal-based protein; Consume less meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
-    Avoid simple sugars; Sugar based drinks and sweets. 
-    Increase your intake of fruit and vegetables; aim for at least 5 items per day.  
-    Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water. 
-    Drink Fruit tea; Drinking herbal teas or lemon juice with water in the morning will aid digestion.  

Vitamins are your friends! Try to avoid just tablets and seek out vitamin rich foods.

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for any athlete training through a tough winter. It’s a strong antioxidant and an excellent protector from illnesses such as common colds, flu and fevers. You will find Vitamin C in fruit; Oranges grapefruit, kiwi-fruit fresh juices etc, but also in dark leafy green vegetables. Particularly cabbage, spinach and broccoli. Sprouted seeds are also a alternative source. Try if possible, to consume these foods ‘raw’ without cooking to preserve as much of the goodness as possible. 

Vitamin D:
This mainly comes from exposure to sunlight and its UV rays. However with bad weather in winter we tend to wear a lot of clothing and hide our skin preventing our body from producing this useful vitamin. Now you could book a training camp of a holiday somewhere sunny, but an easier and cheaper method is to eat foods such as oily fish (Salmon, mackerel, sardines) or eggs (yellow). Specifically liver from meats or fishes can also help Vitamin D levels. For the vegans amongst us, vitamin D is difficult to source. So, consider using natural supplements – but check they are listed on the Informed Sport website to avoid contamination from banned substances. 

In summary January is a time to be smart, respect your body and build into your fitness slowly. Look out for others making the mistakes we’ve mentioned too! Trainsmart, build your confidence and trust that you are doing the right things at the right time.

February is Chinese new year, the real return of energy!

Alexandra Borrelly-Lebrun from Organicoach
Pharmacist specialized in sports nutrition.