Winter Training: Prepping for the Cold

There’s nothing that makes me want to run less than looking outside and the weather being miserable. Unfortunately, these are the realities of living in England and as winter creeps up on us adjustments need to be made to our running. Luckily, we don’t get tons of snow in England so that’s not really something I have to deal with. But training is still made difficult as everything is just more cold and wet. To add to a bad situation, it’s also pretty much dark during all the times when most people can fit in their training. Now I don’t know about you but my hatred for the treadmill runs deep and although this seems like a simple solution to avoiding outside conditions, there’s only so many miles I can do without getting bored senseless. My biggest obstacle isn’t the actual running but rather getting my foot out the door, I actually quite enjoy training in winter once I get going.

Its definitely important to keep running over the winter months, as much as we’d rather snuggle up in a warm bed, the consistency of running all year round is what helps us improve, as well as preventing injuries later on. Maintaining decent mileage will help you once spring rolls around again next year, being the perfect time to build-up your fitness, having a significant impact on helping you to achieve your future goals. If that isn’t incentive enough (sometimes it definitely isn’t) then a good way of staying motivated is to give your self small rewards for completing training sessions. In my house everyone is a big fan of cake and all things sweet, so baking has become a bit of a weekend ritual. This is one way I motivate myself to get out on my weekend long runs. Running is a great excuse for eating extra cake. (not that I need excuses for that)

Capstone Park after some very muddy hill reps

Once you’ve been able to conquer the decision of choosing to run, there are many other important aspects you need to remember for winter training. One of the significant ones being your clothing choices. It goes without saying that if its cold outside you probably need to be wearing more layers, but with running it can be difficult to know how many layers to put on. I’m still in the current situation of debating whether or not shorts are still appropriate but considering that the temperature has been dropping below 10 degrees (Celsius), I’ve decided it would probably be wise to start wearing my running tights. As well as long tights I opt for wearing base layers. These are great because they help wick away sweat and keep you dry, and if it is particularly cold or rainy, I’ll wear a waterproof jacket. Gloves are also great, but I don’t actually own a pair of proper running gloves and the normal ones always make my hands way to hot, so I end up having to carry them. Remember that layering up is vital for regulating your body temperature, preventing cold related illnesses such as hypothermia, this may seem a bit extreme, but it can happen. We also need to factor in that after you stop running your body will cool down fairly quickly, so it’s wise to change into dry clothes as soon as you can or even better, jump into a nice warm shower. If you would like to know a more detailed list of my running essentials, then let me know in the comments!

You need to dress for the weather, but you also need to dress for the light. This pretty much goes all year round but if you’re running in the dark it’s a good idea to get yourself something hi-vis, this is especially important if you’re running alongside roads. If it’s dark, it’s unlikely that cars are going to be able to spot you, so better safe than sorry. As well as being seen, you need to be able to see too. If you like off-roading like me then you’ll know how dark it gets when there are no streetlights. Head torches are a must so you can actually see where you’re running. I’d also recommend that you carry a spare with you just in case, if you’re running far. Just the other day me and Josh headed out for a night-time trail run and about 10 minutes in we realised that one of our torches wasn’t charged. Suddenly it got very difficult to see and we ended up having to cut the run short. One torch between the two of us wasn’t doing it and someone was going to inevitably end up tripping over. Another way of ensuring that you stay safe is running with a friend or a group, if there’s more than one of you its easier to spot potential hazards, there is safety in numbers. Running in a group is also a way of staying accountable and motivating you to get up and go. I find its not so bad running in horrible conditions if you’re surrounded by other people, it’s a good distraction.

Now warming up, something that I’m notoriously bad at doing. I still have flash backs to P.E at school when we were forced to run laps of the school field in the cold, whilst the teaches stood by in their 20 layers of winter clothes, lecturing on the importance of getting your body moving. This isn’t to say they were wrong, in fact running without warming up will just increase your risk of getting injured. So, before you head out do some light exercises to help warm up those muscle and move your joints, your body will thank you for this in the long run.

Finally, something that many people forget in the winter is hydration! It can be easy to forget to drink water when you’re running or when you’ve finished because you probably haven’t sweated as much as you might usually have done. This doesn’t mean that your body hasn’t lost a lot of fluid and as I have found out the hard way if you forget to rehydrate, you’ll probably be left with a banging headache for the rest of the day. All in all, running during the winter doesn’t have to be difficult, with just a little extra motivation and planning you are set to have a good training season! Happy Weekend everyone, its raining here in Kent for the next three days but the weather won’t stop me! 😊

Anna xx

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