Winter training can be tough when the weather is poor and you're running alone in the dark. But winter training is doable, as long as you approach it the right way.
Here's our top tips to keep your training going no matter the weather:
Keep your training flexible The winter is ALL about being flexible and creative with your training which means occasionally swapping rest days and run days based on what Mother Nature is dishing out, and getting creative with your training indoors. It’s important to be opportunistic and realistic when training in the winter. In other words, if you were planning on taking a rest day but the forecast is predicting warm temps, take the opportunity to run. On the flip side, if you were hoping to go for a big run and the forecast is calling for heavy snow, it’s not worth risking injury in potentially dangerous conditions.
Top tip: check out the long range weather forecast and move your sessions around in your training schedule to make the most of those good weather days.
Train indoors Sometimes it's best to train indoors so make the most of your sessions. Pick sessions which are interval based such as hill and speed sessions to do on the treadmill as it's a great way to practise consistent pacing it will push you to run faster and alleviate boredom.
Top tip: set your incline between 2-5% to replicate running outdoors and up to 10% for a hill interval.
Build your strength If you can't get to the gym and you don't have a treadmill at home, then strength training is the next best thing if you can't get out for a run. Strength and conditioning (S&C) is an essential part of you becoming a stronger, more efficient and less injury prone runner.
Mbition's S&C sessions are designed to improve your running performance and to minimise injury risk - no equipment is needed, we only use body weight exercises and they only take 20-30 minutes!
Top tip: add S&C sessions to your plan in your 'Training Settings' in the top menu.
Layer your kit Whether it’s freezing cold or mild and wet, layers will give you options. If you layer correctly you will be able to be free from cold sweat whilst keeping the warmth in. There are three key stages: Base layer: this needs to be moisture wicking and snug to skin. Mid layer: this one insulates the body and is only necessary if it’s really cold outside, it should be loose fitting. Outer layer: this is the protective shell against the weather and needs to fit loosely on top of the other clothes. Look for ventilation panels and reflective detailing if you’re a night-time runner.
Top tip: ensuring you wear technical running socks is also key - they wick away your sweat and don’t leave your feet cold.
Warm up pre-run Having a proper warm up is always important but during cold weather, it’s all the more essential. Before you leave the house, warm-up the body gently by performing mobility exercises such as leg-swings and hip circles, then raise your heart rate by doing some standing squats or lunges. This will mean you don’t end up overdressing and will also prepare your muscles to run before you head out the door helping to avoid strain or injury.
Top tip: when you do start running, take the first 10 minutes easy so your body is fully warmed up.
Nutrition Fuel and refuel! This is always essential but you need to cover a few key bases with your winter training nutrition. You need to ensure that you pack in enough nutrients during this time to help your body avoid illness. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables every day to help with this.
Top tip: eat foods rich in vitamin D to make up for the reduced sunlight hours, such as fish or fortified cereals.
Stay hydrated During the colder months, you will likely sweat less and therefore be less inclined to drink. However, forgetting to take on water will have an impact on your performance.
Top tip: make sure you take water before you leave the house and rehydrate post run.
Keep warm post-run After a long run out in the wintery elements, chances are you’ll have a case of the shivers not long after your heart rate goes down. So when you get home, take a long hot shower and get dressed into some warm clothes before you start your stretching routine.
Top tip: have a hot drink such as hot chocolate post run - milk is a great recovery drink as it helps replace fluids and electrolytes lost during exercise and it contains key nutrients for health such as calcium and vitamin D.