Cold Weather Running
Top tips for making the most of your runs
Looking to make the most of your autumn and winter runs? Former Commonwealth Games runner, professional coach and Sigma Sports ambassador, Michelle Dillon, has shared her top tips for warming up and making the most of your time running when the temperature drops. Read on and get running through the colder months.
What's the best way to warm up when running in cold weather?
Apart from layering up with warm clothes a lot of people would say just get out there and run. This, however, makes you feel it necessary to get out the door at lightning speed to stay warm. Let’s be honest, you might be able to do that when you are in your 20’s, but it's not realistic for us runners 40 years old and upwards. As we get older our muscles naturally become stiffer especially in the morning, so it's important we get them ready before running out of the door.
I always try to do a glute/hip activation session because all your muscles switch off when you sit for long periods of time or have been lying down all night. It's like turning the tap off then turning that tap back on again when you are ready to run. Doing little activations and firing up with a Theraband can really help switch those muscles on helping you feel less stiff.
A Good Warm Up Session to Try
1. Single-sided glute squeeze holds: Squeeze your glute hold for 5 seconds repeat each side x 10 repetitions.
2. Side clams with Theraband around your knees x 30 repetitions on each side.
3. Double legged glute bridges: Lay on your back, feet flat on the ground, squeeze to the top hold for 2-3sec x 20 repetitions.
4. Side glute bridges: Come up on your knee and elbow, top leg straight go up and down for the count of ten, you should feel this in your Glute medius the muscle close to your hip bone x 10 repetitions on each side.
What are good training sessions to do in cold weather?
For someone looking to compete, it is good to work on strength and build a base over the winter, as in the summer you are usually on the track working on speed. Building up your base miles is a good place to start, for example doing one steady long run each week, anything from 1 to 2 hours depending on your goals. Additionally, incorporating some hilly running sessions are a good way to build strength. (for example 8 x 3-4min @ 3-5% incline so you can still maintain good cadence and leg speed).
You could also throw in some actual build runs as well which is all about increasing pace towards the back end of a run session, or negative splitting a run, which is always tough to do. A nice one hour option is to do 20 minutes EASY, 20 minutes MODERATE and 20 minutes at a STRONG PACE. Make sure you can see you are increasing pace through the run and holding it. These types of runs should all be part of your winter running program.
Should you cross train in cold weather?
Variety is the spice of life so why not do a bit of everything? Whilst training outside can be fun and refreshing it’s also nice through the winter to mix things up and do some cross training. Cycling is actually really beneficial for runners, as running alone can be hard on your body and joints making you more susceptible to injury.
Add in some turbo trainer sessions to replace an intense run session. You can actually simulate a run session in time on the bike for example if you were running 6x1km on the road in 4min/km pace, you could do 6x4min HARD efforts on the turbo with the same recovery between each one. As well as this you could add cycling into your run program to gain more endurance around your current run program. This takes the pressure off your legs while improving your strength & endurance. To mix things up you could also add in Elliptical trainer, pool running and gym work.
What's the best way to motivate yourself running in the cold weather?
Some people say winter is a time for hibernation, so how do you get motivated during the cold winter months and stay motivated to keep training? The best thing to do is set yourself personal goals that keep you accountable each week, work out what you would like to achieve and go after it. Whether it's setting a running goal to target a time, competing in a race or parkrun or simply keeping those winter pounds off, there is a reason to keep training.
Meeting up with friends is a great way to get you out the door as it adds more fun to a session. When meeting up with someone you are more likely to turn up as you don’t want to let the other person down. Try joining a run club where they do regular sessions each week and where you can push yourself against the competition.
The most important thing is to get into a regular routine and stick to it even when you don’t feel like going, 9 times out of 10 you will feel much better when you have been training and it’s important we keep it up for our health both physically and mentally.
With Michelle's expert tips when it comes to warming up, training and motivating yourself through the colder months you are sure to reap the benefits, whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned runner.