Words by Kerry Dixon and Ashleigh Nelson of The Athlete Method
The Athlete Method are no strangers to running and training outdoors in the winter. This is the time of year they do a variety of workouts to create a strong fitness foundation to help them perform and compete at their best come summer. Today they are sharing with us at The Sports Edit their Top 8 tips to stay motivated during the winter grind and come out on top!
#TAM TIP 1: SET A GOAL
We cannot stress how important this is! The only way to get through winter training is to remember WHY you’re doing this in the first place. Your goal could be to increase your speed, time or distance. Plan and track your progress regularly so that you can get through the cold dark days and be proud of your accomplishments however small or big.
#TAM TIP 2: SHOP FOR THE RIGHT RUNNING KIT AND FOOTWEAR
To battle the elements, you need to ensure you are wearing breathable, functional and windbreaking layers to absorb sweat and regulate body heat and to protect against the wind and rain but also have fun with it and wear bright colours and prints to shine on the dull dark days! When the temperatures start to drop wearing a running beanie or headband and running gloves are a smart idea to avoid excess body heat loss. As we move, our body produces heat so it’s vital to keep the muscles warm to avoid injury. A good pair of trainers is also a must have. Comfortable with a good grip to avoid injury (shin splints are no fun and very common with outdoor running!) trips and slips.
#TAM TIP 3: WARM UP PRE-RUN AND COOL DOWN POST RUN
The cold will not feel so cold once you’ve warmed up, trust! Before you head outdoors, run up and down your stairs, skip (if you have the space) jumping jacks, or do bodyweight squats on the spot. Any movement to activate your muscles and get the blood flowing will help you ease into a long run and help prevent pulling any muscles and also helps to mentally prepare you to get in the zone! Post run stretches are equally important to help recovery and to nourish the body.
#TAM TIP 4: ADD SOME FUNCTIONAL CROSS TRAINING INTO YOUR PROGRAMME
Cross training is so important – especially to keep a running regime balanced. This is a great opportunity to avoid the cold and add some variety. Get indoors, whether at the gym or at home. Incorporating some cycling, rowing, swimming, or bodyweight-based circuits are a great way to improve your overall flexibility, strength, and stamina. Look for ways to incorporate cross training to keep things exciting, different, and keep your body injury-free.
#TAM TIP 5: BE PREPARED FOR ANY WEATHER
When you're planning your training for the week, check the weather in advance as there may be a few sessions you can move around if the weather is set to be bad. When battling the wind and cold, pick a route that starts into the wind and utilises the wind behind you on your way home when you're tired.
#TAM TIP 6: TRAIN WITH A RUNNING BUDDY OR GROUP
Training with a buddy is a great way to boost motivation and also stay accountable for your goals in the moments you don’t feel like it (even Olympians have down days when they would rather stay in bed!) The events of 2020 and the current pandemic make training socially not as accessible but apps where you can share your results with friends is the next best way to challenge yourself and stay on track.
#TAM TIP 7: PLAN YOUR MEALS AND TREAT YOURSELF
Nothing beats a warm healthy and hearty meal when you come in from the cold! Planning a healthy diet that will supplement your overall training will keep your energy levels high but there is no greater feeling than rewarding yourself on the return from a long cold run (secretly we are dreaming of food when training!).
#TAM TIP 8: REST AND DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF
With so much focus on getting the miles in, factoring some rest and recovery is an essential part of any training programme. This is the time the body gets to repair and allow the training adaptations to take place. After all you want to benefit from all the hard work you're putting in! Also, if you miss an occasional training session, don’t be so hard on yourself. You won’t instantly lose fitness overnight and sometimes we have to listen to our bodies and will benefit from it in the long run (pun intended!).
Whether you’re a seasoned runner or you fancy a new challenge, we are sure these top tips by Kerry and Ashleigh of The Athlete Method will keep you motivated to stay on track (trail or path!) this winter and channel your inner athlete.