This post is in partnership with Very.co.uk
We’re in the coming to the end of Lockdown 2.0 (although we’re staying in Tier 2 unfortunately). It’s suddenly dark at 4.30pm and your next races have either been cancelled or, at the very least, are looking uncertain. Having a goal race booked really helps me to get out of the door over the winter when the weather is rubbish and it seems to be dark ALL THE TIME. Without a goal race the cards, and with limited group runs able to take place (although we are going to be allowed to run with more than one other from next week, yay!) it can be hard to stay motivated.
Firstly, I just want to acknowledge that it’s totally okay if you’re struggling.
If you don’t fancy running much at the moment then don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s a really weird time right now (stressful, frustrating, heartbreaking…insert emotion.) And if staying home watching cheesy Netflix Christmas films or Harry Potter makes you feel better, then that’s fine.
However, you might find that having something to focus on helps you get through the next few months. And a bit of movement and some fresh air is likely to make you feel better too! It could be a great opportunity to pay some attention to the areas you normally ignore. (That’s definitely mobility for me!) Or try something new.
I’ve put together some ideas for how you can keep up training motivation over the winter – both at home and outdoors.
Winter Training For Runners
Make mobility and stretching a habit
I’m sure I’m not the only one who can somehow find the time to run 20, 30, 40+ miles per week (we’re talking pre-pandemic) but struggles to squeeze in ten minutes of mobility work and stretching before and after runs. It’s always the first thing to get dropped when life gets busy!
With many of us having some extra time in the evenings at the moment without any social plans, it’s a great time to get into a good routine. And cement this as a habit which will (hopefully!) stick around post-lockdown.
This 15 minute mobility workout from Runner’s World looks like a good one to try and build into your pre-run routine. Improving your range of motion can help to alleviate the stress and tension that build up in your muscles and joints.
Post-run, Adriene Mishler has a great 20 minute Yoga for Runners routine on her Youtube channel, which is perfect for an all over stretch. She also has some good ones if you’re feeling tight in a particular area, like this 6 minute yoga video for hips.
Incorporate strength workouts
One of the best things to come out of lockdown has been the huge amount of fab at-home workout resources that have been created.
My friend Tashi Skervin-Clarke launched her TSC Method training online – she’s a guest on this week’s Cook Eat Run podcast talking all about Strength Training for Runners.
Laura from Lazy Girl Running, qualified PT and running coach, has loads of free strength workouts for runners videos on her Youtube channel which can all be done from home and require minimal equipment. If you’re completing new to strength training her Introduction To Strength For Runners clip gives a really useful overviewing of the hows and whys.
If you’re looking for something a little more bespoke, take a look at Twice the Health’s Run Strong programme. This is an 8 week personalised training plan with a heavy focus on the strength training and mobility elements (unlike other plans which only cover the running itself). You’ll get weekly check-ins with the TTH girls and Coach Brad to help keep you on track.
TEST OUT YOUR KIT
Yep, I admit it, new kit is always a motivator for me to get out the door. This is a great time to try out new kit, from trainers and sports bras, to leggings, jackets and headbands. Testing out new pieces when you don’t have super long runs on the plan or races which could be messed up an ill-fitting pair of leggings or a chafing top. Maybe it’s time to look at that old pair of trainers losing their tread. Recycle them and try out a new pair?
I was given a voucher to choose some kit from Very.co.uk and picked out these gorgeous (although I realise, perhaps not the most practical winter road running shoe!) pink Adidas Ultra Boost. I used to wear these a few years ago but haven’t tried the Ultra Boost 20. This version is part of the Adidas Parley range. The upper is made with PrimeBlue, a recycled material made up of at least 50% Parley Ocean Plastic.
The rest of the kit is part of Very’s range of UnderArmour, including the HeatGear leggings and the Tech twist half zip.
Nail your nutrition and fuelling
It’s often those takeout lunches you grab on the go and evenings out with friends which derail your good intentions nutrition-wise. While you’re likely spending more time at home preparing your own meals at the moment, it might be a good time to really dial in on your nutrition.
Self-plug time, but my book Cook, Eat, Run contains over 70 really simple recipes specifically designed for runners, from quick post-run energy fixes to nutritious dinners.
I also have a free e-book full of recipes for homemade running fuel. If you have a little more time on your hands at the moment, why not try ditching the expensive packaged gels and bars and trying something made from natural ingredients?
Try out trail running
I’ve always thought of myself a road runner but I’ve been out exploring the trails more recently, using the AllTrails app to find new routes and it’s been so good to get out in the gorgeous autumnal weather and explore some beautiful new trails.
Without any races in the diary, and less pressure to be targeting PBs or hitting certain paces, it’s the perfect time to get out and try something new. If you’re new to trail running, don’t be disheartened if your pace drops. The hills and uneven terrain (including a lot of mud at the moment!) make it incomparable to road running. The mental health benefits of getting outside and being in nature are huge too!
Adharanand Finn actually gave it as one of his top tips to all runners, to get out on the trails more, in this Book Club Podcast episode!
Run with friends
I find that I’m much less likely to bail on a run if I’m meeting somebody else. Even if it means a super early alarm or the weather is a bit grim. With a lot of time being spent at home either alone or with the people you live with, depending on your circumstances, it can be super refreshing to get out and catch up with a friend too.
At the moment in the UK you can only meet one friend at a time, and only outdoors. But I feel super lucky to even be able to do that. Keep an eye on the COVID restrictions where you are. But make the most of running with friends if you can.
How are you staying active over the winter?
Photos by Phil Hill.