Coaching 101 – Winter Solstice

Never before has June 21st meant so much. Typically I write how June 21 represents the first turning point of winter. Mentally training at this time of the year is tough as the mornings are dark and the weather cold and this year wet. This year after the isolation of the past 3 months winter solstice is something we can celebrate like millions of others across the world that have developed various rituals and celebrations around the date. 

Our ritual is a little different to the druids at Stonehenge or the Newgrange celebrations in Ireland but in the end we base ourself at a significant landmark and challenge the body and mind.

Our celebration involves a seriously hard mental and physical challenge at our Tuesday night run. This is a way of mentally showing we are strong enough to deal with whatever winter throws at us and we are ready to move forward. This year we also get to celebrate the releasing of the covid grip. Finally we don’t have to break up into groups of 20 and we can all train together.

Last year our Winter Solstice run was epic. It was awesome just to watch people complete lap after lap of the 480m circuit up Montefiore hill. While there is no onus on you to keep going or to push hard- almost everybody does. Last year Mike completed 19laps before the 35minute cut off. I think maybe 1 shy of the record. So what will this year deliver? J

While it can rain and blow and the temperatures plummet the beauty of the winter solstice is that every day gets that little bit more daylight (and hopefully some sunshine) every day. Sunrise may only be 30sec or so earlier each day but it doesn’t take long to realise change is happening.

Mentally I view this as the turning point where I have broken the back of winter and start to think about spring. In September it is light at 5.30 in the morning and we can really start to load up the training for the season ahead. So all we need to do is find ways to make sure that when spring comes around we are ready to rumble.

So if you are struggling with the reality of winter, hopefully you can draw a little strength from the knowledge that spring is really not that far away. Mid- August is the next turning point for me, this is where you can really notice the days are starting to have some real warmth to them and the spring blossoms are starting to appear. So all we have to do is keep ourself going for 2 more months.

Racing is one strategy that always helps maintain enthusiasm through winter. I would always look at scheduling in a race every 3-4 weeks. The Saturday afternoon duathlons are a great addition to the calendar, with the first race on July 11. I am sure it won’t be long before we are able to have some confirmation on other events including the Wonderland run and hopefully the Park runs. .

Also stay tuned as the annual running of the West Beach 5-25run may be happening as a 7-42 on July 5 (it’s a 7km loop course instead of a 5km to make it easier to get to 21 or 42km), provided there are no changes to the covid restrictions. So if you are looking to run a qualifying run for wonderland we may be able to offer an opportunity.

So far training has been great. Tuesday is pumping with plenty of competition and comradery. Thursday run is growing in popularity and I am sure will be a highlight on the calendar when we are allowed to go in for a drink or meal at the Grange Hotel post run, while Sundays trail run was well supported with plenty of smiles at the end.

So while I didn’t think we would be able to do it because of restrictions, the most recent changes mean Tuesday will be our epic Winter solstice run around Montefiore hill. Hopefully see you there

Happy training


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