Our record-setting and gloriously warm summer has come to an end here in London and its time to start making considerations for winter training. Especially for those who have never run significant distances in the winter before - training at this time of year can be a bit tricky. We promise though, once you take these considerations into account and get a few winter runs under your belt, you’ll be prepared to train through the winter like a champion (yes - even in wet and dreary London).
A little treadmill goes a long way.
Some purists believe that training for a marathon on a treadmill is in bad form, but it can be a good alternative for a run that would otherwise be interrupted by a day-long downpour or frigid temperatures. While typically safer, running indoors is also not nearly as dynamic or rigorous as running in the great outdoors. It is always better to train outdoors whenever possible but if the weather is going to keep you from training at all, then a little indoor running can be substituted now and again.
Use the weather forecast to plan out your runs and try to include at least three outdoor runs per week if you are running five times per week or less. If you are running more than five times per week, then at least four or more of your runs should be completed outside.
The last six weeks of your training, and your long run, however, should always be completed outdoors. Be flexible with when you plan your long run and, if possible, try to schedule it on a warmer day, and start later when the sun is higher and hotter.
Hydration in winter is still paramount.
It is easy to remember to hydrate and give our bodies the electrolytes they need when the sun is beaming down on us in the summer months. During the winter when we are cold, however, it can become easier to forget hydration. Before, during and after your runs, as well as in your daily life, it is extremely important to remain hydrated throughout the winter. Just because it is cold outside, does not mean that you need less hydration than when it is warm. If you are running for 45 minutes or longer, it is important to hydrate mid-workout, even if you may feel less thirsty in the winter.
Set-up your own individual hydration and nutrition plan with Enduraid (https://www.facebook.com/enduraid/), the leading race nutrition planning app. Once you have your hydration and nutrition plan, keep it up throughout your training, whether during the winter, summer, spring or autumn.
Cold-weather gear is key.
One good thing about training in the winter is layers. When training in the summer, there are only so many layers you can remove in order to cool down. In the winter, however, there are an infinite amount of layers you can add to stay warm. Inevitably, you will start removing these layers as you run, so it is important not to overdo it.
About 45 minutes into any longer run, you will begin to feel warm and toasty - no matter what the thermometer reads. Be sure that you have storage (perhaps a small bum bag) where you can keep your hat and gloves should you choose to remove them.
Another added bonus about cold-weather gear is that compression pants really cut down on painful chafing that can sometimes occur when we wear our shorts of the summer!
Fight the winter blues and enjoy running!
Marathon training is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it brings us great feelings of joy and accomplishment. On the other hand, it can also make us question all of our life choices. For many people, winter is the time of the year to hole-up, move less, and eat more. This combined with the short days and freezing weather can easily cause us to become a bit sadder than we are in the bright, sunny, summer. Running and training are great ways to combat this. Not only does it force us outside, it gets our heart pumping, gives us a great sense of accomplishment, and helps us burn off those extra holiday calories.