January 2017 and snow is in the headlines! Worse still it is due to arrive just when you need to be getting long runs and key marathon training completed…help!!! We know winter is one of the 4 seasons yet every year and the rest of Europe is giggling as we slip and slide our way through the weeks ahead.
From a running point of view it’s going to be a tough period as we focus on the long runs getting longer, we start to include some marathon pace and the mid week runs need to include that all important threshold and sometimes faster work.
It might be time to be flexible and occasionally step outside of your routine and plan. Let’s talk about the clever options…
I have run in 15cm of snow or thick frost every winter and it can be magnificent. Almost like a scene from Narnia at times and certainly beautifully quiet. It was just me and the odd group of runners or hardened dog walkers. We all nodded to one another as if to acknowledge our madness but also the winter spirit. You see running on frosty grass/trails or fresh overnight snow is pretty easy re grip and we were wearing our trail shoes with plenty of technical layers. The snow made it hard work but I just cut the pace and had fun, even time for a mad five minute snow ball fight at half way with some kids...but I never stopped moving which is crucial as you don't want to shut down and get cold.
The fun begins tomorrow though when that snow has become packed ice and the pavements are lethal. Yes I will still run and we have some snow running crampons to strap to our trail shoes (I said we were bonkers) but even this is risky. Usually jog/walking safely to the park, field or local golf course (great to run in and certainly no golfers about) to find soft or untouched snow to run on is the best way.
My week ahead will also include a few trips to the gym but I will go either very early, mid morning/afternoon or much later all to avoid the queue for the treadmills and stressed runners trying to complete long runs and refusing to step off despite the ten minute rule.
I will certainly cross train also on the studio bike, in the pool swimming and aqua jogging and also on the elliptical x trainer or rowing machine.
What am I really telling you here?
Well to be honest and rather blunt I’m saying 'don't find excuses and hide away indoors'. This winter period often won't be quite what you planned but with a sense of adventure and plenty of planning you can beat the elements.
Bill Connolly once said 'there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes'.
Before we know it guys it will be early spring and those final March half marathon training races or longest runs will be upon us. Don't lose a week in January or February and go into hibernation, see this as a fresh challenge!
A few top tips:
Only run on fresh snow if on the road/pavement and never try to run on pack ice.
If icy walk to the nearest park and then run on the snow with grass underneath.
Use the treadmill but be prepared to be flexible with times...the whole world also want to use a treadmill when icy. Wear trail shoes if outdoors and just run easy or steadily rather than trying to vary pace or run fast.
Ignore the GPS pace...your natural pace will be slower as the snow is a natural resistance. This is just 'time on your feet' and remember it will feel harder.
Be warm when you train (see previous articles on winter clothing) but crucially get out of damp sweaty clothes immediately after finishing.
Let people know where you are running and take your mobile phone.
If using the treadmill more or running in snow increase your daily stretching routine…the muscles can feel tighter and you need to stretch more.
Meet your friends and turn the cold run in the snow into a social event..and have that snow ball fight at the end!
Most of all, don't take any silly risks and spring will soon be here! One or two missed runs or extra x training sessions really won’t matter. Stay safe and keep that focus in these crucial winter months