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Seven tips to Survive Winter and Nail Your Training Goals

December 20, 2023

Training through the winter requires greater mental resilience and your body has to work harder in adverse conditions. Just what you wanted to hear at the start of your training plan… but there are benefits to training in the cold. 

Your immune system gets a boost, making you more likely to fight off winter colds. Cold exposure also activates increased calorie-burning brown fat and being outdoors means absorbing much-needed vitamin D.

But let’s be honest, none of that helps with getting out of bed, so here are seven tips to see you through the colder months.

1) Set micro goals

If you’ve signed up for the Brighton Marathon, you already have a big goal to aim for - Event Day. However, setting micro goals throughout your training can help you stay motivated.

It can be something practical such as getting your gait analysed at a running shop or a new discipline such as Yin Yoga, to help relax your muscles and avoid the dreaded shin splints. And there’s nothing stopping you investing in a bit of kit as a treat. Massage gun, anyone? 

The team here at Brighton Marathon Weekend have also put together a handy Monthly Planner to keep you on track if you need some inspiration.

2) Wear the right shoes 

This is true all year round, but during the colder months you need something to keep your feet warm and dry if you are running regularly in heavy rain or snow.

Gore-Tex running shoes or shoes with water-resistant uppers will help keep you dry. Mesh isn’t your friend. Consider a toggle instead of laces on your shoes if you will be wearing gloves regularly.

If you’re resigned to the fact that your feet are going to get soaked, merino wool running socks can help keep your feet warm, even when wet.

3) Fancy a free weekly 5K?

parkrun is a free community event where you can walk, jog or run a 5K. All you have to do is register to receive your scalable barcode to take part, and that’s one less short run you have to think about. 

The start time depends on the location. Find your closest one here on the parkrun site here.

4) Keep spare kit on you 

Your core body temperature plummets as soon as you finish running even though you may feel like a hot, sweaty mess. You should also try to set off running into the wind so you finish with it at your back, that way you won’t get an ice-cold blast when you are sweating.

If you can’t shower, change into a fresh set of clothes as soon as possible. Ditching that damp kit stops chafing and, crucially, keeps bacteria at bay. The combination of sweaty workout gear and underwear can lead to yeast infections or UTIs. You can even be susceptible to acne on your rear! Oh, the glamour of training that isn’t widely spoken about.

5) Mix it up

Sure, a routine is great for consistency, but it can mean you target the same muscles and occasionally hit a frustrating plateau. Switching up your training can target those underused muscles and give you something new to try.

One great way to switch it up for runners is the terrain. So why not try trail running or fell running?

Trail running involves, as the name suggests, running on trails, which can be uneven and rocky, so it requires a bit more concentration than your usual run as you need to consider where you are placing your feet. There are no trails in fell running. It is more about navigating steep terrain and challenging yourself with taking on a higher gradient than usual.

As a starting point, you can check out the Fell Runners Association or Trail Running Association.

You can also head to stunning locations in the UK, such as Snowdonia or the Lake District, and there are a number of guides who can help you navigate the area. There are also races held by both associations if you want to get competitive.

6) Find your tribe 

There’s no better motivation than accountability. If you’ve signed up for a group run, you are less likely to duck out.

If you are new to running, joining a group might seem intimidating, but it’ll be one of the best things you’ll do. There is a group for everyone. You don’t have to worry about planning a route, and running as part of a pack is safer after dark. If you want to improve your technique, most groups have track sessions too. 

A good starting point is searching on RunTogether or England Athletics for groups in your area. There are plenty on Instagram and TikTok too.

You make new friends, people who are probably training for the same distance as you. They might even be running the Brighton Marathon too! Some groups combine the exercise with a social element such as a drink after, watching short films, or Q&As with guest runners.

7) Go on holiday

You see that half marathon lurking in your training plan? Why not celebrate reaching this stage of your training by doing it abroad - if you're lucky enough to have the budget and holiday allowance. As a starting point, you can look on Find A Race.

And if you fancy something off the beaten track, there are a few tour providers who offer running trips to locations such as Everest Base Camp.

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