With Christmas over, there are no more excuses to stop the training getting into full swing. However, with many more cold, dark nights still upon us how do people stay motivated throughout the winter months?
I have found in particularly difficult to get back into the swing of things lately. Having successfully reached 10 miles in training pre-Christmas just trying to run 4 miles, at times, is proving difficult. Two miles this afternoon was torture. I find this is mainly down to the fact that it is Winter. Dark nights make we want to be at home; warm and cozy. The dark mornings do not help either; who wants to get up and train when it is still dark at 8am?
However; I have no choice. There is a Marathon to run in only 105 days and I need to get my butt in gear to push myself further.
So I have been taking on a lot of advice; reading articles on Runners World and London Marathon itself; who focus on key areas to get you through the Winter:
Your running kit crucial to training and getting through a marathon itself. It has taken me a long time to work out what is right for me. I have always layered up during the winter months – but often with the wrong items. For example, I used to have lot of long sleeved layers including thick hoodies – which are completely impractical for running, simply because I feel like my skin could not breathe. I then went on to investing in running jackets; which also did not work for me. I found that I could not get a good running motion with my arms, finding them very restricting and the “swish, swish” noise of the fabric rather irritating. Running belts have also been a big problem for me; trying all sorts that held just keys and phone, to those that also held water bottles. All of which I found irritated me whilst running too.
Now my kit consists of the following:
- Running bra and dry fit vest
- Long sleeved breathable top – my favourite right now being Under Armour.
- Running Gillet – enabling me to keep my chest warm; whilst giving me the flexibility to move and preventing me from over heating. Mine was purchased from H&M sportswear. Not only is it light and warm; but it also washes well without loosing its quality.
- Camelbak – perfect solution to holding water and all the essentials whilst running. Mine holds enough water for a long run along with my keys and phone. It also has a small pocket to hold any light layers I may discard during training. It is light, so it doesn’t irritate me whilst running and has the handy drinking tube so you don’t have to hold water in your hand.
- Leggings – again H&M come up trumps for me here. They have great capri’s and full length leggings for running. Though I am currently looking at compression tights as I get further into training.
- Trainers – The most important. After all, if you have a rubbish pair of trainers you are not going to make it. My favourite for the last year have been Nike Flex Run. I have had three pairs and find they offer me the perfect fit for running. I am currently looking at buying my fourth pair – because lets face it, I can buy as many trainers as I like in the lead up to the marathon.
- Additional items – Gloves, lights and socks. After many dark, cold runs it was time to invest in these items; not only to keep me safe but to keep me warm. I purchased a pair of Nike running gloves from one of their outlet malls recently along with elite light weight socks. My running lights were purchased from Amazon for £2, cheap but they do the job.
In order to improve my performance I am also looking at compression tights and leggings. Previously I thought the socks in particular looked rather silly, but I am starting to understand the reasons why runners wear these items.
Running in the dark in order to train is unavoidable in this country. We have dark mornings and dark nights so the most important thing is to ensure that I remain safe as a runner.
Reflective, bright clothing and lights are a key factor. Most of my running gear is black – but I have my lights and usually my long sleeved top is a bright colour so I can be seen.
The majority of my training runs are likely to be solo, therefore I need to ensure that I tell someone where I am going (especially at night) and the route I am going to take to get there. During the dark nights, I also stick to main roads – leaving the more secluded routes to the weekend when I can run them during daylight.
I have never got on with running to music so luckily I can concentrate on my surroundings and hear any trouble approaching.
I also always ensure that I take my phone and my debit card – just in case I get lost (it happens) or become injured.
As I get further into training I am starting to realise that a warm up is detrimental to running. This week I have been concentrating on a few exercises to enable me to do so; with leg kicks and hip circles forming part of my warm up routine. I might look like a wally in the middle of the street holding on to a lamp post, whilst performing my leg kicks. But I am starting to care less and less what I look like.
Nutrition and Hydration
Both are key to any training plan. This week I have been making a conscious effort to ensure that I take on board as much nutritious food as possible. My batch cooking for the week involved a lentil casserole found on the London Marathon site, packed with nutrients. And I am ensuring I take on at least two litres of water a day.
Additionally I purchased Runners World’s “Meals on the Run” to help me get more diversity in my diet for pre and post running nutrition.
Positive Mental Attitude
In order to get me through the training and marathon itself I am going to constantly force a positive attitude. Training is hard, especially in the Winter months. Lately I have been doubting myself (not for the first or last time i’m sure). On days when I can barely run four miles I wonder “what am i doing”. But I have been here before – when I ran my first 10k race and my first half marathon, and everything in between. The mind is a very powerful muscle and I need to constantly tell myself “You CAN do this.” There is no room or time or self doubt. I just need to get out there and keep trying.
Winter training is always the hardest. I don’t know anyone who would prefer to run in the dark, pouring rain rather than sunny mornings. Sadly there is no choice. The training needs to be done and as I don’t get on with treadmills – I need to continue to get out there pounding the pavement. Come rain, come shine – I will be racking up the miles longing for the lighter evenings and sunny days.
105 days remaining………