The clocks have changed, the days are darker, and there is lots of rain and wind. Getting outside to train can be tough. Winter in the northern hemisphere can be challenging, but it’s a great time to train outside as well. The old saying goes; ‘winter miles means summer smiles’!
If you wrap up warm, have the right clothing and equipment, and adapt your training accordingly, then the winter can be a great time for training.
Most importantly, stay safe. To keep your training on the right tracks this winter, be sure to follow these top tips.
1.Wear the right clothing
Good footwear is essential for running and cycling in all weather, but especially in wet and cold conditions. You should make sure you have good grip on your running shoes and, if possible, make sure that they are waterproof. During the colder months, appropriate clothing is essential to manage the lower temperatures. Wear layers that are warm but breathable, and can be added or removed easily. It is also advisable to ensure that you are visible at night with Hi Viz clothing and lights. A bit of additional storage in the form of a running rucksack or waist pack comes in handy. Same goes for cycling. Lightweight waterproofs and other items of clothing can be stored in back pockets, frame bags or panniers.
2. Prepare and maintain your clothing and equipment
Jackets, shoes and other equipment can easily become damp and damaged by unfavourable conditions. You’ll need a bit of forward planning to ensure that your favourite kit is clean and dry if you train regularly. Ensure your tyres have have good grip and consider having a couple of spares in the shed just in case. Choose your running and cycling routes based on lack of hazards. For example aim for routes with good lighting, few fallen leaves, no standing water or ice, and minimal traffic and pot holes.
3. Warm Up
Warming up is key all-year round – but is even more important in the winter. Warming up prepares the body for exercise and reduces the chance of injury.
A good warm up consists of 5 – 7 mins of gentle cardio (this can be longer if the weather is particularly cold, or you simply feel like you need it. You can also utilize dynamic (moving) stretches, such as lunges, leg swings, squats etc, to compliment this cardio warm up. An effective warm- up lubricates the joints and muscles and raises the heart rate preparing the body for exercise.. Equally, especially in cooler weather, an effective cool down is also advisable.
4. Take a common sense approach
We’re not going to risk assess every aspect of our lives, but, when it comes to training in bad weather, think ahead. If you think there is a chance the weather might be too dangerous later, or you have been advised against going out by, for example, the Met Office, then consider this in advance. If you fail to do so you could risk injuring or causing yourself serious harm. Always check the forecast before heading out and avoid going, or stay close to your home if things are looking too bad. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back, or ensure that you have a mobile phone with you.
5. Cross train
Winter is an excellent time of year to try something different. A change is just as good as a rest sometimes. Why not do some strength training at home or in the gym? A good strength base is an excellent compliment to cardio training, and is sure to help you in your quest to achieve Personal Best times! Your muscles will definitely thank you for it come summer.
6. Take it indoors
Apart from the cross training, you can also carry on running and cycling indoors. Get yourself set up indoors at home with a turbo trainer, and maybe utilize a platform such as Zwift,to race or track your rides or runs on the treadmill and make them a little bit less dull. Why not join the Sports Tours International Zwift Group Rides, so you can still get your cycling fix, but don’t need to worry about it being dark, cold, icy or wet.
Virtual events are a great way to keep motivated. Virtual events boomed in 2020 and 2021, as the COVID -19 pandemic saw mass participation events put on hold. However, many virtual events were an enormous success. Many of the big events such as Haute Route and the Etape du Tour took to the virtual world. We predict that virtual events are here to stay, and we’ll see more in 2022 as well.
8. Try and get out during the day
If at all possible, try to get outside during daylight hours. We don’t get enough Vitamin D from sunlight in winter. As well as eating plenty of fruit and vegetables we should also try to grab every bit of daylight on our skins that we can during winter. Many people don’t take their full hour’s lunch break in the UK. Make sure that you do and get out if it’s nice. You’ll be far more productive in the afternoon after some fresh air.
9. Train with Friends
Not only can training as a group make your exercise more sociable and enjoyable, it is also safer. Given the dark nights and unfavourable weather conditions, it can be a good idea to have someone with you while you are training in case of accident or injury. Having a friend, family member, or partner that you exercise with has also be found to make it much more likely that you will both keep training. Partly, because you feel accountable to the other person, and also because doing things you enjoy, especially with people you enjoy spending time with, makes it much more likely that you will continue.
10. Sign up for a 2022 event
What better way to stay motivated than having something to train for? Looking forward to an event is ideal as there is a set date and all your planning has an actual end goal. Many events are already sold out for 2021 due to a lot of roll-over bookings from 2020 but there is still plenty available with Sports Tours international.
It was a wild weekend at the Marathon du Mont Blanc. Sadly the weather closed in and put paid to some events but a number of our runners completed the full marathon around Europe’s highest peak. Congratulations to everyone on a mega achievement 🏔