Top tips to help you train for your marathon during the long winter months!
Hopefully the shock and excitement of receiving news from the Virgin Money London Marathon that you have a place in 2015 is beginning to sink in! And, for those of you who didn’t get entry through the ballot but have signed up to run for your favourite charity, now is the time for you to start thinking about training for the 26.2 mile endeavour which lies ahead.
Whether it’s the London Marathon or another marathon taking place in spring, training through the winter months can be quite a daunting prospect. We’ve found these top tips to help you:
It is tempting on a cold winter’s day to go out running wrapped up to the nines to keep warm! But, don’t overdo it – if you feel toasty before you step out of the door then you’re probably wearing too much. Three layers of light clothing is thought to be better than one or two thicker ones. You can shed the layers if you need to as you warm up.
Remember to cover your extremities. Insulated hat, gloves and socks are important as the head, ears, hands and feet get cold quickly. In fact, when it’s cold, you can lose up to 70% of your body heat through these parts of the body.
A good warm up is essential to avoid injury. The colder temperatures can mean it takes your body a little while longer to warm up. Warming up indoors will help you to gradually increase the temperature of your body and your muscles.
Fuelling your body properly during the training months is as important as getting those miles in. A healthy balanced diet will be adequate to fuel your shorter runs. However, for longer runs think about eating a pre-exercise meal that is carbohydrate based with little protein as this will increase your glycogen levels, which gives you energy. It is important to digest your pre-exercise meal properly before heading out for a run, so eat around 3 hours before.
It is easy to forget about hydration when you are running on colder days as sweat rates are lower. However, you’ll be expiring more moist air than usual through your breathing and you do lose water through sweating as you warm up. Drink before you leave for your run and when you arrive home. If you are planning a longer run (over 1 hour) it is recommended that you carry fluid (water or energy drinks) with you.
At the end of your session run at an easier pace for five to ten minutes to cool down and stretch indoors in the warmth of your home to keep your muscles warm, this will help aid recovery. After a long run you could use the firefly™ device to increase blood flow to the recovering muscles - giving your recovery an extra boost!
Recovery days are essential as rest allows your body to adapt to the work and improve. Without recovery adaptation may occur short-term, but ultimately it will fail. And since most injuries come from overuse, a day of cross training, rest or easy miles can prevent longer forced breaks caused by injury.
As tempting as it is to start logging those treadmill miles during the winter, it is important to mix up your sessions, so include at least two outdoor runs each week. In the last few weeks before race day, get as many runs as possible done outdoors.
We all know the Great British weather is unpredictable at times so be flexible with your training plan. If weather conditions outside are not favourable for your planned run - adapt or postpone the session, or hit the treadmill. Similarly, if it’s a sunny day, get out there and run, whatever the schedule says.
Missed a chunk of training due to the weather? Go back to where you left off, and repeat that week’s training. Never jump ahead as this increases the risk of injury.
Staying motivated in cold, dark weather can be challenging. Teaming up with a running buddy is a good way to keep you motivated as you won’t want to let them down. You could also join a local running group to help keep you on track! Visit the Run England website to find a local group near you.
If you are running in the dark it is important to wear clothing which can be seen by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Never dress all in black; wear white or dark-coloured running apparel with reflective stripes on the arms or legs as moving parts are easier to see. Consider using a light weight head torch and/or flashing light clipped to your running jacket.