How to Keep Training in the Winter
As an ultra runner, I find winter a tough time. My season typically runs April to October and these are the days I long for - the sunny, warm, camaraderie filled days. Of course, as the popularity of ultra marathons grows, ultra distance races are increasing through the winter months- the likes of “Tring to Town” and the hard-to-fathom-even-by-ultra-standards “Spine Race” - the season doesn’t really end anymore. Yet, I am a summer racer.
Winter can be long and boring and if, like me, you despise winter it can get you down but it can also be an opportunity. Summer form is created via winter training and so I try and use discipline through the winter. This isn’t always easy with two children under the age of 6 and a small business I have just launched. So when the alarm goes off at 5am and I have a two hour window until 7am and breakfast time, rolling over and hitting snooze is always the most appealing option. That is until I return from my run, energised and ready to Carpe Diem.
But yes, for those of us with responsibilities - most of us - winter running means running in the dark. Often a less than appealing prospect when combined with the winter elements. So here are my top tips for safe and enjoyable winter running whether you run 5k’s or 100 mile races.
- Invest in a good headlamp. This doesn’t mean you need to go haring off over the moors but does mean cars can see you and you can see those dips and ruts between streetlamps, even if running in a town. High vis clothing is great, but when the weather is poor the beam of a headlamp will always alert drivers and other road users to your presence.
- Look for local groups that run together. Not only is this a motivating factor, but also a safety one as running at night (if new to it) can be a scary prospect. I run with a group called “The Bath Bats” who meet every two weeks to run trails that people might otherwise not feel safe to run outside of the summer months. Your local running shop may well also organise group runs each week and this is a great way of socialising and meeting people of similar ability that you might run with on other days.
- Have a race on the horizon. My next race is a 9 mile fell race in January. This is way too fast for me and completely out of my comfort zone, so it gets me out of bed knowing I need to be ready to try (and fail) to keep up with the whippets on the day. Running is always easier when you have something to work towards.
- Get some good, warm running gear. The merino options from Iffley Road are great and keep me warm by wicking sweat away from my body.
Some people love winter and whilst I am not one of them, if I don’t use it to the best of my ability I will pay come summer. I hope these tips help you get out there!