How I (tried to) stay motivated in the snow

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This week has been a complete write off in our area.  From Monday night it has snowed on and off until today and we have had weather warning after weather warning.  As beautiful it has been to look at it and as ‘prepared’ as we should have been for it considering it is Scotland and it is winter, it has really got in the way of my routine and the routines of others.  It has been harder to get outside, the pavements have been laden with snow and slippy, and gyms in the area have been shutting early due to the snow fall. I have also been off work for two days as the school was shut, and we got sent home early today.  When things change in our routines, we can find it hard to stay on track or find it easy to make excuses, but I have tried as hard as I could to stay as motivated and as on track as I could and thought I’d share some of the things I have tried with you.

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1. Make a plan

Check the forecast for the week ahead or for the next few days and write down what you would like to achieve for the week accordingly and realistically.   If you have a plan of what you would like to achieve and when, then you are more likely to stick to it. If you know the weather is going to be bad can you plan to do some workouts earlier in the week or wait until the bad weather passes?  A plan can help to keep you motivated and focused when the weather turns bad and setting goals for the week can help give you a purpose to get up and go, particuarly when the weather turns.  Be realistic in your goal setting and be kind to yourself.  This week, I know I might not manage to get in my long run due to the weather, but I will do what I can realistically and try not to be too hard on myself if I don’t manage.

2. Workout at home

Travelling in the snow can be scary and disruptive and so it can be difficult to get to your gym during times of bad weather.  In this case, try to include some home workouts into your plan for the week.  There are loads on YouTube to choose from, from strength workouts to yoga to HIIT sessions.  Some that I really enjoy are Insanity, Body Beast and The BodyCoach 20 minute workouts.  I also love stretching to Yoga with Adriene.  These videos are useful as well as it’s similar to being at a gym class as there is someone telling you what to do and keep you on track.

3. Eat wholesome, comfort foods

One thing I have found very difficult this week has been not eating myself out of house and home, especially on the days where I have been off from work.  On the days the school was shut, I was working from home and it was becoming all too easy to reach for another biscuit with a cup of tea or to eat more for lunch than I usually would.  Luckily, I am following a nutrition plan from The Fitness Chef, which has helped me to stick to my calories and macros and this is something that has really helped me to stay on track this week. But, if you don’t have a plan to follow, try to keep yourself eating wholesome, nutritious foods.  One of my favourites for this time of year is soup.  I love to make big pots of the stuff full of vegetables and proteins like lentils or chicken.  The other bonus about soup is that it is relatively cheap to make and you can chuck all your left overs right in there.  I also love slow cooking big crock pots of casseroles and chillis.  All of these homemade foods should fill you up enough to stop you reaching for the biscuit cupboard and make you feel all cosy inside.

4. Use the treadmill

If you are a runner and just need to run, or if you are training for a particular event, the snow, wind and rain can play havoc with your training and sometimes it is necessary to jump on the dreadmill.  I am lucky enough to have one in the house for now, but I would go use the one at the gym too if I needed to.  I find the treadmill really boring at times, so I have to make sure I workout in a way to keep it interesting.  I try to do interval sessions or challenge myself in different ways, for instance, run a mile at one particular pace, then up it for the next. Or, I will run at my top speed for around 400m, then slow down to recover.  I find that setting these short aims helps to make the time go faster on the treadmill and, if all else fails, I can put on Netflix on the iPad!!

5. Get out and play!

My absolute favourite thing to do this week has been to get outside and play in the snow.  I’ve wrapped up warm, donned my walking boots or trail running shoes (these actually have better grip than my boots and are better for walking!) and have got out there with the dog.  On Tuesday, it was beautiful to walk around in the freshly fallen snow, soaking up the quiet of the world that the snow always seems to bring.  The rest of the week, I have loved crunching my feet into the snow and heading out and about.  Get out in bad weather and soak up the elements – it can be very cathartic!

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Murphy has been loving the snow and has been a great companion for playing!

If you have snow or bad weather, I hope you can stay motivated throughout it and hopefully it clears up for you soon! Not long now until Spring!

Aly x

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Conic Hill

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As well setting my running resolutions for this year (My Goals for 2018) I have also made a small aim for myself to explore more walks and hills throughout this year.  So, at the weekend, Martin and I along with Murphy and our pals headed up to Loch Lomond to climb Conic Hill.

Conic Hill is located on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, near the small town of Balmaha.  On the drive up, you can see the landscape of Conic Hill and the hills surrounding it rising dramatically which should quicken your heart rate with anticipation a little if you are anything like me.  Sitting at 350m and around a 2.5 mile round trip if you follow the main route, it looks a lot higher than it is.  It is a relatively short walk, but, the climb is steep and pretty instantaneous as soon as you start the walk.  The hill sits along the Highland Boundary Line, the fault line which separates two distinct terrains in Scotland: the Highlands and Lowlands and offers stunning views of Loch Lomond and its islands.

To climb Conic Hill, you should park in the car park at Balmaha.  This is about 40 – 50 minutes drive outside of Glasgow.  You can head out through Bearsden or along the motorway and across the Erskine Bridge.  The Erskine Bridge route is my favourite because this is the route that I would be driven when I was younger and we would go on holidays up north, so crossing that bridge is an indication of adventure and good times to me.  The car park is pretty big, with plenty of spaces, however even on the miserable January day that we chose to climb the hill, the car park was still full of walkers and runners, so if you were going in summer, I’d perhaps advise getting there early.

Head out of the car park towards the forest and an information board and turn right.  The climb begins quite steadily from here, but the trail is gorgeous.  The trees tower above you and I began to feel very small against nature.  Follow this trail (marked with the thistle symbol of the West Highland Way) for around half a mile and you will come to a little kissing gate, which when you pass through, will give you a view of Conic Hill.

Stay on the main path and it curves around between two hills. Keep looking back because as you climb, the views become more and more rewarding.  Eventually the path will swing right to climb the far side of Conic Hill.  By now, you should have some amazing views of Loch Lomond and the hills on the other side, which I found quite breathtaking even though our day was pretty murky.

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On your way up this trail, there is a short grassy path that leads up to the ridge line of Conic Hill, which is on the exact line of the Highland Boundary Fault.  I didn’t go up here unfortunately, as I was keen to get to the top!  However, my friend Matt did and I am assured the views are even more spectacular!

As you continue up the main route, you might be fooled by a false summit, but don’t worry, the top is not too far!  Ascend the final climb and be rewarded with what you came for – views across Loch Lomond, including the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond.  The view is quite astounding and you feel like you can see for miles.

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The views from the summit – brilliant, even on a cloudy day!
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Murphy feeling pretty pleased with himself at the summit!

From there, you can head back down and retrace your steps I believe, however we headed across the ridges behind the view to explore some more of the peaks.  These were quite easy to traverse and we were able to find slight paths in the grass underfoot in order to ascend and descend.  Even in the rain and wind, it was too slippy or boggy and I recommend having a wee explore if you can!

We descended the last peak and joined onto the West Highland Way.  You can come off the hill and follow the route to the right which will take you on a circular route.  We chose to turn left and head for the route we had come due to time and the lack of daylight, but I am sure I will explore the other route in due course.  Coming down the way you have climbed is no real hardship however as you can look for as long as you please at the wonderful views.

When you reach the bottom, you can of course head straight back to your car, or you can head to St Mocha’s for a well earned coffee and a cake.  Might I recommend the cappucinos which are lovely and are served with a nice piece of tablet.  The cafe is great, although pretty small so I can only imagine the queue on a hot summer day!

Overall, Conic Hill is a fantastic walk and I highly recommend it if you are looking for a shorter, easier hill walk in Scotland or even if you have young children who you would like to introduce to hiking. It’s a great day out and for us, resulted in one happy, sleepy pup.

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