Forget Winter – Get Ready For Spring

Advice for Running in Adverse Conditions

It looks good outside but this rain and wind scenario is getting a bit challenging now, especially if you’re a runner wanting to do some proper exercise so forget winter and get ready for spring!

It isn’t impossible to exercise though, if you apply some creativity to what you do and how.  So if you’re feeling the tension of being trapped indoors, entertaining children, and endlessly rearranging things, then this is for you, because spring is firmly on the horizon and we need to be planning ahead.

  1. Try not to use the wet conditions as a reason to not exercise at all.  We just adapt what we do and what we wear, and look for the ground which isn’t too lethal.  If you don’t fancy the wet and windy conditions, then some alternatives to running include swimming, yoga, boxing, core work and weights sessions. Use the time to cross train and find something new to try rather than do nothing at all.  Plus if you really are stuck indoors, then check out some on-line workouts in the luxury of your own home.  You may feel ridiculous, but nobody can see you and better to have a go, than lose fitness and motivation just because the weather’s against us.
  2. Early in the year, just when we’ve started gaining some momentum on our training, it’s not ideal to stop and start the fitness, so we need to think ahead and stay on it. Spring is not far off, and I certainly don’t want to be caught out when the first signs of longer days and warmth in the sun emerge, to find I haven’t got my body ‘spring-ready’!  It takes confidence and determination to go out running if their is mud all around you but a good pair of trail running shoes will ensure a reasonable footing, and if you have good core stability and balance this will really help you too.  Admittedly some frozen winter ground isn’t that easy, and if you really are too anxious about spraining your ankle, or snapping your cruciate, then think laterally in conditions like this and do something else active instead:
  • Try power-walking with a back pack to achieve a great alternative workout. Set yourself a target time to get back by, start at a steady pace then speed up.  Take a large enough pack that you could fill with some shopping maybe, or make sure it’s weighted from the outset to provide some extra challenge.  You can then get your heart rate up quite high,especially if you find inclines or hills to tackle, and if you keep a fast pace and stay out of breath the whole way. Of course, unless you’re ‘tabbing’ as the PARAS call it, or ‘yomping’ if you’re a Royal Marine, (moving seriously fast over distance carrying extra kit and weight) you won’t cover the same distance as a runner, but it achieves the same results; improved fitness, stamina and endurance.
  • So if you possibly can, use the frozen or water-logged ground as a new way to work out and challenge your limbs in different ways.  The deeper the snow or mud, it really is quite hard to walk let alone run in it, and believe me, if you can find a slope nearby, then a few runs up and down pretending you’re 10 again is a fantastic workout.  Also, try pulling someone along in a sledge or partner carry each other and race each other – we’ve had some great workouts as a group doing just that, followed by some good old fashioned snow shovelling which is as good as any core and upper body workout I’ve ever done.

Running Gear For All Seasons:

Apart from not slipping over if you do decide to go running, the main concern when it’s cold is keeping warm and dry without over-heating.  Wearing big bulky layers to keep toasty at the start of your outdoor workout is very tempting, but if you work at the right intensity, then they’ll need to be whipped off pretty soon after you start, and you’re going to have to carry them somehow.  So you’ll either need a pack for them or to tie them round your waist which never looks that good or feels particularly comfortable.  It also doesn’t ever seem to me like people had any intention of working that hard when I see extra clothes flapping around their midriffs. That’s why our team of instructors flatly refuse to carry people’s excess kit for them, or we’d be overloaded with unnecessary extras that people discard straight after the warm up when they realise wearing too much was a big, big, mistake.

As there are all types of weather in the UK we need to have all types of kit to be able to get out in it and find something that works.  You can always train no matter what the conditions; you just need to decide what to do and wear when doing so.  And when the winter weather’s telling your mind ‘no’, keep focusing on your body saying yes!  Imagine clocks springing forward, more light, possibly even some sun, and how everyone who’s done nothing over winter will feel when they go out for their first run of the year on that crucial first day of the ‘S’ word.  It may seem a daunting prospect to have a range of training gear and ideas for putting it on, but, once you’ve invested in some good kit, you can use it and use it.  And let’s face it; in Britain you can’t have too many waterproofs, thermals, trail shoes and thick socks really, given what our winter (and usually summer’s like).  But in between Spring can often be pretty good so let’s look forward, get ready and think of some ways to get our bodies ‘Spring-fit’.

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