Sub-zero to hero – Winter running tips

This is a guest post from Stephen Thomas. It comes at a good time for me as I’ve just been told that I shouldn’t run on my injured knee. As soon as I’m well, though, I’m prepared with these winter running tips!

It’s tough enough to get up that little bit earlier on a Monday morning for a jog in the summer, but when the icy blanket of winter unfurls across the country, this difficulty is multiplied by many times! However, I firmly believe that the key is in focusing beyond the running itself and try to think more about why you’re running; and if you don’t know why, find out! Let me explain:


Once you get going, running in the cold bite of the morning is thoroughly exhilarating!

Have a Goal

Henry Ford once said that “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal” and for someone (like me) who doesn’t love running for running’s own sake, this is incredibly important. If I were to just ‘run because it’s what you should do’ I’d fail within the week – I should know – I’ve done it before.

As human beings we have an innate need to impose meaning onto the world in which we live and the things that we do. We can observe this physiological phenomenon everywhere: for example if an archaeologist digs up a strange looking object the first thing he’ll ask is “what is the point in it; what is it for” and this holds true right through to our philosophical ponderings into the meaning of life – in every realm we feel a desire to find or impose purpose.

So then, this being the situation that we as human beings find ourselves in, I am very much of the opinion that this way of thinking should be translated to the world of running. If I were to not have a tangible goal on a bitterly cold December morning there is no way I would be out the door… because after a week or two of doing it ‘because I should’ that old way of thinking creeps back into my mind: “what’s the damn point?!” I need to be able to answer that thought to have a hope of leaving the bed sheets and donning the running shoes.

Three months ago I had never run a proper race in my life, and then I ran the York 10k! That 10k was my goal and became the answer to the “what’s the point” question that plagued me in my attempts to stay fit in the past and I think that this way of thinking could really work for anyone reading this that wants to stay fit but battles with self-motivation when it comes to the crunch.

Without a goal, you’re doing nothing more than drifting – have a goal and run toward it

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

Once you’ve settled on a target race, you need to devise your training plan. Wynsors world of Shoes have put together some great plans for beginners that offer great, simple to follow structure (you can pick them all up here and print them off for free) but bear in mind that this is just a starting point, everyone is different and if you need to tweak the plan to make it work for you then you definitely should. If you’re a local gym member have a chat with one of the fitness instructors and get something structured that works for you personally; if not then start out with the Wynsors guide and you’ll learn soon enough just by listening to your body.

Furthermore, having a structured 8 week plan is all very well, but you also need to plan on a micro-basis as well. You know full well that it’s going to be freezing cold tomorrow and that you’re still going to be rubbing the sleep out of your eyes as you step out the door, so get everything you need to run ready for the morning the night before; and put that stuff where you’ll be able to see it when you wake up… let it stare you out as you lay there in bed – trust me those trainers will guilt trip you out of bed just like that.

So what are you waiting for? As the 3rd US president and author of the declaration of independence, Thomas Jefferson said: “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Author bio: Stephen is a recent philosophy graduate working In Leeds. Having finally plucked up the courage he recently completed his first 10k in just under an hour and is currently training for the Leeds abbey dash to raise money for Women’s Aid

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