Marathon Training in Winter

Motivation can often be our biggest challenge to overcome, especially in winter when it’s cold, damp, icy, windy…even dare i say, slightly dangerous underfoot. So should this stop us from training and logging the miles during these ‘challenging’ months – Of course not!

More often than not, the winter months usually is a lull in the racing calendar, especially for the longer distances. Therefore, this is an excellent time to recover from injuries, overtraining symptoms, correct mechanical issues and strengthen the jinks in our armour. It is also a great time to build a solid mileage base from which your endurance will thank you later in the year.

I you have several months until your planned spring half or full marathon, you should now be logging the long, easy miles. There is less of a need at this stage to be focusing on speed work and high tempo runs, but steady ‘easy’ runs are the preferred ‘norm’. Of course, your planned upcoming race date will largely determine how your planned training should develop and over what period, but typically, you will all benefit from having a solid mileage base from which to start your marathon training programme in earnest.

So it’s cold! – Wrap up warm and wear layers. Consider wearing gloves and long running pants. Just because the sun’s not beating down on you and the temps are minus 5c, this doesn’t mean that we should be considering our hydration needs, especially on runs of over 45 mins or longer.

winter runner

If you live in a wintry environment, consider investing in some ‘yak trax’ http://www.yaktrax.com/ or some similar traction device that will allow you confidently run across snow and ice without fear of slipping and causing yourself damage. If things are too bad outside, consider using a treadmill. I log many a mile on the treadmill, especially when it’s raw ice around me or particularly when doing some repetitive speed training. Not all treadmill running has to be boring or painful, but it can certainly help keep you running when things get bad!

Of course, if you are lucky enough to live in a wintry environment, use this time as a great opportunity to cross train. Go snow shoe running once in a while or try your hand at cross country skiing. I know having done a fair bit of this myself this year that I’ve actually benefited from it – great cardio workout and works many of the same or similar muscles, but still gives the body a rest from all the impact!

Apart from anything else, who wants to miss the beauty that’s outside anyway?

There may be plenty of cross country skiing or snow shoe races close by. Like competition and the buzz it brings, try something different instead. Winter needn’t bring everything to a halt, unless you want it to!