Ugh. It’s dark by the time I leave work. In fact it’s dark WAY before I leave work. It’s dark when I run before work. It’s dark when I run after work. My bike has had a puncture since last week and I haven’t had the enthusiasm to fix it to commute because it’s cold and dark and rainy (I mean I have another bike, but that is by the by)
Ok, so enough moaning – pretty sure every single person reading this is thinking ‘yup, tell me something I don’t know’. I feel like I do a pretty decent job of training over winter because it just has to get done and I do it, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t sometimes hard, or that I don’t sometimes forego a session for a night on the sofa…
So here goes – some bonafide tips and tricks to help you out over the coming months. Tested by yours truly.
1. Find a way of holding yourself accountable – for me, this is committing to pre-work rides with my colleagues, telling my mum I will ring her after my track session, agreeing to do a parkrun on a Saturday with the girls (mainly when there is the promise of brunch) and signing up for classes online where I lose money if I don’t turn up.
3. Set everything out the day before. It is much much easier to put on clothes that are sitting at the end of your bed than it is to get them out of the cupboard. Fact. Also make sure your heating is on. Or sleep in running leggings, they are very comfy.
4. Embrace the warm bath! Seriously, post cross country, my fave thing is to come home and have a bath and put on cosy clothes. Prepare for after your workout, not just before – i.e. make sure you have enough layers for leaving the gym a sweaty mess.
5. Meal prep. Something I seem to find more exhausting in the winter is coming home from training and cooking dinner – because it sometimes ends up being closer to 10pm when I eat (bad habit, I know). Have a few quick, easy options ready to rustle up and it just makes the whole thing that bit easier.
6. Book in a race or event. It’s all too easy to slack off when you have nothing to train for…I’ve got a marathon coming up obviously and both Kate & I are entered for the London Winter Run in January – I’m going to use it as a part of a long run, but I know Kate is keen to have something to set her sights on. I’ve also got a duathlon, a 10k and a couple of half marathons in the pipeline – so there’s no way I’m giving up! (Internal debate here – hug a polar bear and sacrifice a PB? Is it worth the hug?!)
7. Check the weather forecast. Plan for rain. It’s going to happen so see how you can adjust your workouts around it.
8. If you can work your workout into work, fabulous. This is easier for some than others. With me now working at a sports company, there is absolutely no judgement about popping out for a run at lunch or in the afternoon WHEN ITS DAYLIGHT, and more often than not, you will have someone to join you. What I used to do however is commute in earlier, dump my stuff at my desk and then go for a run from the office. This typically means you aren’t then running in the dark, and I also can run further as I get ready a lot quicker at the office than at home! Most people just assume they can’t work out in their lunch break – have you actually tried? How about suggesting you come in a bit earlier or leave a bit later if you need to make up hours?
9. Don’t let the snow stop you! Seriously, running through fields in the snow is one of the best experiences. Pop on an extra pair of socks, accept that you will run slower and just enjoy the feeling and the views. Please do however, be careful of ice and not being able to see what’s underfoot – the snow is not the place for speedwork!
10. Take things inside if you have to. Don’t risk falling over if the weather is too bad. If you just can’t bring yourself to go out, there are other options. I’ve got the current luxury of having one bike permanently on the turbo which makes it super easy to hop on. Jazz up the treadmill a bit – play around with the speed and incline settings as its remarkable how much quicker the time passes when you have button pressing to distract you!
So there you have it…a few ideas that I use. But number one would be – missing one session won’t kill you. Missing multiple sessions, yes, will have an impact, but skipping the odd one here and there is not something worth stressing about. Just get back out there and hit it hard the next day! Skiing also counts as an appropriate cross training activity…but speaking from experience, trying to add in pre or post ski runs is HARD! Even if you are marathon training. (But the views are super. So maybe do it just once)