The autumn training season is always confirmed for me when I succumb to full length running tights, find my gloves and consider my winter headband. I actually look forward to the change in season. The runs in humid, sticky, draining conditions of summer are behind us and I actually find with the cooler conditions comes the ability to push runs that little bit harder. Here are my golden rules of training in the autumn and winter.
Correct kit creates confidence
Many may try to ‘make do’ when it’s chucking down, slippery or blowing a gale force wind outside but I really would suggest investing in some quality winter running kit. Let’s be honest, running on the whole, is inexpensive in comparison to other sports.
Base layers, long tights, a visible running jacket or gillet, running specific gloves, hats and headbands are a must. Be safe, seen and be warm this winter. High viz clothing is an essential and feeling confident that you can be seen makes the whole run or session safer and more enjoyable.
Cope with the wet, muddy or frosty conditions underfoot by investing in a trail shoe. The better grip and support will continue to make your usual parks and trail routes achievable and a pleasure rather than you having to change them and stick to the road.
Layer up…within reason!
Layer up sensibly with a quality wicking base layer and then allow the first 10 minute warm up section of your run to do it’s job and warm your core temperature making the run tolerable and confortable as long as you keep moving! With a wardrobe stuffed full of appropriate kit, there are no excuses when you
look out the window in dismay. Remember as Billy Connolly once said… ‘There is no such thing as the wrong weather… just the wrong clothes’!
Autumn and winter training
OK, so it’s time to now talk about the actual training. I see so many runners queuing for the treadmill or telling me in meetings that they haven't run for days because the rain, wind or snow has arrived or the weather has just been cold and miserable. My question to you is simple 'how badly do you want this?'
It’s just a phase!
At RunningWithUs we see the autumn and winter as your training base and foundation work; a strength and base phase towards any spring goals. Venture into the park with those fell or trail shoes on and run some hills and/or Cross Country loops as clever Winter training to get stronger. Also look at including some hills naturally into your weekly threshold blocks. You can’t possibly recreate on the treadmill the strength and agility gained from pushing up and down muddy, grassy hills or compromising undulating mixed terrain trails. It challenges leg strength, glute activation and tests your core stabilisation.
Get into some fartlek running either in the park, woods or along the streets. Fartlek is the Scandinavian term for speed play; simply vary the speeds in your runs when completing a fartlek. You might warm up and then run harder for 30-45 seconds randomly to the next tree, bush or lamppost. You would then run easy or jog for a short period before again running to another landmark or for a shortish duration, make sure to vary the length of the efforts.
Embrace winter racing
Racing some shorter Cross Country races or trail events for your local club or undulating 5K Parkruns are an ideal way to work on your VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake) and strength endurance.
Above all else look forward to some of the inspirational moments the winter can bring. Running through the leaves in the park or cutting through the frost on the ground, seeing your own breath, the first footprints in the snow, splashing through the puddles and that warm glow as you return to the indoors knowing you are a real runner who runs come rain or shine!