Winter seems to have crept up on us overnight this year. It only seems like last week that we were out running with the sunshine overhead; then suddenly the temperature seemed to plummet – winter has arrived. Well, winter doesn’t have to mean the end to your training; it can actually be the perfect time to beat that PB.
We have teamed up with Nike + running coach, and owner of Track Mafia, Cory (or Beefy, as he is known) Wharton Malcolm, to pick his brains on his top advice for training throughout the winter months.
Layers, Layers, Layers: Make sure you layer your clothes intelligently, so you can take layers off as you as you warm up and then take them off as you start to cool down. However, your layers need to be breathable – you want them to trap heat, not sweat! At the same time, you don’t want to over do it – you will warm up very quickly once you start running. Your hands and head are particularly vulnerable to the cold; as your blood will be shunted to the working muscles, so also opt for hats and gloves.
Warm Up: Obviously, it is cold outside, so make sure you warm-up before any run, or race. Cold muscles will lead to more chance of an injury, so it is crucial to take this time to do a proper warm-up. Do some dynamic stretches, including leg swings, deep lunges and knee lifts, and don’t forget to stretch your arms too. I would also recommend trying Deep Heat Muscle Massage Roll-on lotion to help loosen and soften muscles as well – so incorporate this into your warm up. If you do get an injury, apply a cooling product like Deep Freeze Cold Spray to help minimize damage reduce recovery time provide pain relief.
See and be Seen: One other key thing that runner’s often miss is making sure they are wearing bright clothing when out running. Safety first! It is vital that when running during the cold darker months that you make sure your clothes are bright, I would also advise wearing flash/3M clothing in dark. Always look or garments with reflectivity on the arms and legs, rather than torso, moving parts of you are easier to spot.
Winter Training Ground – I have always seen my winter runs as a bit of a training ground for spring and summer races. Think of your winter runs as a way of banking miles ahead of summer – the more miles you get under your belt in the winter, the more your spring runs will be more enjoyable.
Mix-it-up: I would advise against doing the ‘same old route’ every time you’re out on a run. Mix up your running, try different routes or give your run a purpose. Why not run to a destination for a reason – so run to brunch, or run to work, or even run to your evening event – what ever you fancy. It makes your run more than a run it is getting you somewhere.
Try other things: Yes, getting the miles in will help with your training, but remember other sports and exercises can help you to improve your running. Why not jump on a bike, try spinning, or if the weather is particularly bad head to the gym and do some weight lifting. If you want to keep up your cardio I would always recommend the ski-erg or rowing machine. Whatever you enjoy, keep things different and it will make you look forward to your next run.
Run together: I always advocate the benefits of running with others – maybe not on every run, but it can really help. Why not sign up to a running club as this will give you others to run with, some of whom you might share the same goals and you can support each other. Alternatively, why don’t you try running with like-minded friends or family – agreeing to going on a run with someone will make you feel accountable on the days when you want to stay at home, but your plan says run, run, run!
Be Flexible with your training: I find winter running is more about maintenance than increasing speed, it gives you the perfect opportunity to mix-up your training runs. That said, you can still see speed increases during this time. Why not mix your distance, try a shorter run but speed up, or try and more elevated route – by adding variety you will help fend off boredom and plateauing.
Set a goal: Before every race or run, set yourself a goal. It could be to reach a certain distance, or to beat your last time, or simply to get to a destination. However, try to keep the milestones and goals small, as it will keep you focused and motivated when you reach your goal. I would even recommend having a bronze, silver or gold goal, so even if you miss one; you’ve got another one to aim for.
Smile! This might sound cliché, but smile when you run. Enjoy the run and being outdoors, even it is cold. I promise you it will make the run a lot easier.