KEEP MOTIVATED IN WINTER
In just a couple of weeks, we will be at the shortest day of the year, with a maximum of 7 hours of daylight. Some will only get to see that on the weekend, or while popping out to get a sandwich at lunch. Winter running on trails can often mean 50 shades of brown mud, combined with the constant effort to stay upright! Following that, you will probably spend an hour cleaning the trail off yourself and from inside your home which you deposited from the front door to the shower. That’s if you have even managed to sum up the courage to get out there in the first place! Here we give you some tips to help you get out the door and also explain why running in winter can make you a stronger runner.
RUNNING IN WINTER MAKES YOU STRONGER
Not just physically but also mentally! Getting out on the trails this time of year can really improve your balance and coordination. You have to focus on the trail and given all those little adjustments to keep upright, your body is going to be working harder than in any summer run. The shorter strides (highly recommended for balance) will improve your running form, making you more efficient. The neuromuscular training benefit is significant, think of yourself as a fighter jet pilot flying through complex terrain, constantly adjusting for the trail ahead, you don’t get that level of training on easy trails. You only become better at something by practice, so initially a muddy trail will feel really demanding but after a few weeks, your body will have tuned in.
Where you look ahead on the trail is also more significant. Anyone who has come along on RtW event knows by the end that you shouldn’t be looking at your feet all the time. Winter forces you to look a few metres ahead, giving your subconscious time to absorb that information, adjust speed, gait and stride length. If you don’t, you will know about it when you get a face full of mud and leaves! You’ll also learn to go with the flow, sudden breaking and changing direction on muddy trails does not work. Think of a skier, it’s all about going with the flow, anticipating sliding and using that within your technique.
FREE YOUR MIND
This time of year can be stressful at the best of times. Present buying, in-laws, Christmas parties. Add in COVID and all that uncertainty, you’ve got a stressful mix. Running is scientifically proven to help you unwind and decompress. Winter running demands you live in the moment, no time to think about what variant of COVID is upon us, as you are too busy staying upright! Getting out in nature even just for 15 minutes will make you feel so much better and ready to tackle all that Santa and his elves can throw at you!
TIPS FOR KEEPING MOTIVATED
Run with others – Being accountable to others will tip you over the balance of erring, to going. Join a club, set up a weekly run with a friend, join a Run the Wild event, there are so many of us out there that are in the same boat and need a running buddy.
Dress warm – Layer up! You are far less likely to get out for a run if you feel cold. It doesn’t matter if after 5 minutes you need to take off a layer, it got you out the door! The key thing is to have a layer system, don’t go just t-shirt and jacket as you’ll have no optionality.
Start small – The first 10 minutes is always the worst! Your body takes around 10 minutes to move into a majority aerobic state, this is why those first few minutes always feel bad. So if you are not feeling like getting out there, just aim to do the warm-up only. It tricks your mind into getting out the door, often you will keep going but it gives you the headspace to get started.
- Reward your run – You’ve got out there, you’ve done your run, re-enforce that with a reward. You’re training your inner dog! It can be a hot bath, hot chocolate, or preparing your favourite meal, whatever it is, give yourself a pat on the back!
Dual task – Including some purpose on your run, again that will reduce your hesitancy to get out there. Maybe it’s posting some letters, picking up some shopping or going to see the local Christmas lights on a run.
- Sign up to an event! – A race or a Run the Wild event, or one of our running holidays in the Alps. Something to keep you on track and getting out the door and that culminates into an overall achievement. It will all seem worth it when you are cruising those alpine balcony paths in the sunshine.
Set micro-goals – The trick of running when you don’t want to, is to shift the focus. Focus on your arm drive, your running form, your breathing. Maybe set a goal of running with 1 minute of breathing through your nose. Set weekly goals of adding in some strides during your run, hops or skips. Whatever it is, it should be small, distracting and fun.
- Strength & Conditioning – Don’t want to go outside? Then don’t! We have found 99% of all runners that we see don’t do anywhere near enough strength and conditioning. Running is not all about running! Get stronger for speed, hills and trails by doing just 15 minutes on some S&R. Check out our free S&R programs here.
I hope I’ve convinced you! Be gentle on yourself and if you miss a week or two, don’t give up! Get out for a walk, build things back up, find the fun in the trails and don’t forget, there is always strength and conditioning!