Training in Winter

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I am a child of the Mediterranean. I like warmth. I like sea swimming. And I like to spend most of my days wandering beaches barefoot in nothing more than a bikini.

I also really like sport, and as much as I would love to hibernate in the winter months and re-emerge late spring looking tanned and lovely and ready to run my races, that approach unfortunately does not bode well for a good race performance. And so, in the depths of winter, I have to continue with my training.

But here’s the thing, have you actually tried running or cycling in winter before? Because it’s fun. Really fun. Don’t get me wrong, it takes me a good 15 minutes huddled by the radiator after getting changed into my kit before I can motivate myself to brave the icy weather. But once I’m out there I have the best time. It’s just easier training in the colder months, you don’t overheat quite so much, you see the world with fresh eyes and you get to experience the magic of twilight.

Here are a few fairly standard tips to make winter training easier:

  1. Get Google Nest (or one of its competitors). My husband is a big fan of anything Google…to the extent where the majority of our home is powered by by the brand (and I’m not allowed an iPhone, sob). Nest is ingenious – at about 4pm from the comfort of my office or a meeting I reach for my phone and turn my heating on via the Nest app. This means that when I arrive home my kit is already warmed through which makes heading straight out for a run or bike ride marginally easier (and no, this post isn’t sponsored by Nest – I’m just a huge fan of anything that keeps me warm).
  2. Invest in good kit. I think top layers are extremely important to get right in the winter and if you don’t already have a running jacket, buy one immediately. I also think you can’t underestimate the power of a good pair of gloves – I tend to use the same gloves for cycling and running and they always take the chill off during the first part of my workout. Midway through gloves are a really easy layer to take off and tuck away in your pocket too. Oh, and make sure you have a decent hat to wear.
  3. Hydrate properly. Don’t think that because it’s winter you can get away with drinking less water. Training when you’re dehydrated is horrible and will have a severe impact on your performance. I also like to make sure I have a cup of tea as soon as I get back from a winter training session as I need something to warm myself up with (a sweet treat helps, too).
  4. Stay visible; see and be seen. Make sure you’re wearing appropriate reflective kit to keep you out of harm’s way, but also make sure you have a head torch or some other light so that you can clearly see the path ahead. Being visible also means you’ll receive a few more friendly greetings when you cross paths with someone – I find the people I come across whilst out on cold and dark evenings are much friendlier than those I come across in summer.
  5. Ensure you warm up and warm down properly. I’m not keen on stretching before a run but I do make sure I take the first mile at an easier pace than the subsequent miles. I also have a stretching routine that I do once I’m back home and never ever skip it.
  6. Sign up to an event! Nothing is more motivating than having something to work towards. My first event is early January which is a coastal trail run along the White Cliffs of Dover. It’ll be a challenge but hopefully a lot of fun too. There’s nothing more motivating than having a goal to work towards.

It probably won’t be easy mustering up the motivation to get outdoors, but once that work out is done and you’re safely tucked back up in the warm you will feel so much better for it.

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