It might be cold and dark, but training never stops. Coach Martin Yelling shares his top tips for winter running
Although the summer months when flying along in shorts and a vest with the sun beating down above you might seem like a distant memory, running in the winter offers a whole new challenge and sense of adventure and achievement.
If the prospect of running with grey skies, harsh frost, hail, driving wind and penetrating rain during the winter sends shivers down your spine then here are some top tips for making the prospect of tackling your winter running campaign easier!
Go exploring. Whether you have just finished a track season or tackled some summer road racing, a change in running surface can be great for helping your legs recover and developing long term leg strength.
Running in the winter doesn’t have to be about pounding out road miles to the beat of the clock. Get closer to Mother Nature, go explore. If you fancy company on the trails, then off-road events can be great fun. For example, Human Race organise a series of traditional trail running events with two coming up early in 2014.
GET THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB
Don’t hide yourself away from the British weather and join the treadmill-brigade this winter. Instead, tackle the elements head on in a committed and bracing way!
The most important considerations for winter gear selection are warmth and functionality. Layering up with moisture wicking base layers, protecting your legs with light but flexible tights that allow a full range of movement and slipping on a lightweight, breathable running specific jacket or gilet keeps the warmth in and the rain out!
Don’t forget your head and hands either. A cap in the rain and a thermal hat and gloves in the cold keep your noggin and digits toasty and dry.
Setting goals in training as well as in racing helps you measure where you’re at and monitor your progress. Why not set up a regular time trial (every three or four weeks) and use it as a benchmark? These efforts should be built into a structured and progressive training plan and used to motivate and spur you on not deflate and destroy you!
Learning how to properly pace your run is an art that you’ll need to learn in order to keep improving and to better understand your running style. Human Race has recently set up a new Pace Series, a selection of running events where timing mats are set out at regular intervals throughout the entire course and participants get a full and proper breakdown of their times for each sector. There will also be designated ‘pacers’ at each event who will take part in the events simply to help entrants run at the pace they’re aiming for. I’m an ambassador for the series and will be providing all entrants with some more detailed pacing advice ahead of the events too.
BRING A BUDDY
Sticking to your running plan especially when it’s done solo can be tricky even for the highly motivated. Sometimes the sofa seems so much more appealing than a run on a cold and dark winter evening and getting out of the front door is the hardest part of the run. Knowing that someone else is waiting for you or you are meeting a group at a set time in a set place is a great way of giving you the kick you need to get going.
BE SUNNY ON THE INSIDE
Think positively. Even though the weather might be dull and grey and your work colleagues might be duller and greyer, it doesn’t mean that you should spiral into comparable dullness. Running is a wonderful tool for actually relieving stress and boosting optimism. Exercise releases endorphins that can actually make you feel happier! Surround yourself with positive, happy people and recognise the true value that running and being a regular runner brings to your life.
We British seem to whinge and moan about the weather an awful lot. When you’re next having a ‘shall I – shan’t I’ run moment as the rain beats down on the window remember that your skin is in fact waterproof and it’s only rain after all! Toughen up and get out there.
SHORTEN YOUR WORKOUTS
There are ways to get in quality workouts quickly to maximise running benefit and feel good that the run is in the bank. Have a series of sessions in your training repertoire that are over within 30 minutes. Winter 30 minute workouts are ones you can draw on when you know the run has to be done, when you’re stuck for time and just want to bank the basics.
A ROUTINE RUN
Don’t hesitate and procrastinate about what you are doing or where you go for your run. If you know what you are doing, have been specific with what is on your schedule and know where you are going to do it then you are less likely to spend time ‘considering your options’ at the front door and employing delay tactics to talk yourself out of run.