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Outdoors / The Pack / Faith Shorney

Winter Training Blues

Faith Shorney explains how she stays motivated to train through the winter months

For some people, like me, training in winter can be a pretty gruelling task. Don’t get me wrong, I love a crisp winter morning run when the air is frosty, when the sunrise is cloaked in a veil of mist and the frozen earth beneath your feet crunches with each stride. But when it rains, the wet and the cold can seem harsh and interminable during those long, hard hours of training, when your feet ache and your body turns numb against the bitter, drenching cold.  The other issue, in the UK at least, is that 5 or 6am in winter, feels like the middle of the night, and getting up on a dark, wet winters morning can be a task in and of itself.

But still, we soldier on; we prevail against the odds because we have a goal to reach. Whether you’ve set yourself the task of running the London Marathon, or any other race that falls in the months of spring, you’re likely to be training right through Christmas and the worst parts of winter. You’ve probably set yourself a few New Year Resolutions that somehow make this thing seem more achievable. You may also be giving yourself a hard time for not training as much as you should have, or would have liked to, over the festive season. A word of advice then; don’t be too hard on yourself, don’t worry if your training plan has strayed a little off course or if you’ve slept in on the weekend. Find ways of training that work for you, not against you – the occasional session on the treadmill, or my personal winter favourite, the WattBike, will do you a world good and give you respite from the days when braving the cold seems like an impossible task.

Try new things too; I cannot tell you how beneficial yoga has been to my running practice, and how comforting a warm, softly lit studio feels at 6am on a dark and dreary winters day. Lift some weights if you’re feeling energetic, or go for swim – at least the pools are heated! My winter training programme includes a lot more indoor work, weights, yoga, indoor cycling and swimming than perhaps I would like it to, but it means that I can really enjoy the clear days and the long, dark morning runs don’t seem like such a struggle, mostly because I don’t have to do quite as many of them.

Give yourself a break, try something new, and when the sun does shine, or the rain lifts even for a few hours, it’ll give you all the more reason to get your shoes on and hit the ground running, so to speak. This is a marathon after all, not a sprint.

23/01/2014
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