Here are our resident trainer RunningwithUs‘s top tips for getting ahead of the game in December:
- Start slow! – Don’t worry if you can’t yet run sustainably for 20-30 minutes. Instead of heading out of the door and running as far as you can before needing to slow and or walk get clever and structure your runs. 10-15 sets of 1 minute easy run, 1 minute brisk walk can be a great starting point for many, some will be ready for 5 x 5 minutes of easy running with 2 minutes of brisk walking. By the end of December aim to reduce those walking breaks and see if you can build up to a longer session of between 70-90 minutes.
- Break it down – Set yourself small goals now to break up your 2018 campaign – you are on a journey and you need waypoints – That could be to complete a shorter run such as a parkrun (parkrun.org) by Christmas but also aim to book in your key races now. A great option could be a half marathon race in February and another in early to mid-March.
- Use the time – Whilst Christmas and New Year are busy social occasions they can also be fantastic times to get out and run. With a bit more time available if you are off work you can get out and run in the light and perhaps team up with friends or family to have a break from those hectic diner table moments!
- Environmental factors – Try running mixing up the pace in your run by using the environment, for example head out for an easy run but run the hills fast, or target a lamppost or tree and push up the effort to that point. Hill training is vital in building strength, endurance and power and can be a great foundation in December.
- Get muddy – In addition to hills the winter getting off road can be a fantastic option. Running off road on trails and yes even sometimes in the mud can build strength but it also reduces the impact of all the tarmac pounding. Get the right grippy footwear, and enjoy the freedom of nature! If the roads are icy off-road or very occasional treadmill runs are the answer.
- Kit yourself out! – Training through the UKs varied seasons is a lot more pleasurable in the right gear. We recommend several layers of sweat wicking fabrics in these colder, wetter months which can you strip off as you warm up. Hats, gloves and arm warmers are great options too as they are super lightweight and retain just enough warm in the key areas to leave you feeling comfortable but not too hot. Make sure you have something with high viz fabrics to keep you safe.
- Get out early – Most runners have busy jobs and make social engagements at this time of year, getting tired and losing energy and motivation throughout the day. Aim to get a regular run in early, even an easy run before breakfast and bask in the glow for the rest of the day.
- Get to bed! – Recognize the value of nutrition and rest. Our immune systems tend to be under greater stress in these months – sleep combined with plenty of vitamins and minerals from a mixed diet with lots of fruit and veg is critical. Build a good pre-bedtime routine, banish smartphones and laptops from the bedroom and try to avoid eating too late just before bed. For more on sleep and how it can massively help you as a runner check out www.runningwithus.com/sleep
- Stronger, more flexible, faster – Don’t underestimate the benefits of regular core and cross training (such as swimming) to help you achieve your running goals! Keep it running specific though ensuring you include exercises that develop your lower abdominal and glute strength as well as single leg exercises. Stretch regularly and consider a pilates class if you are not sure where to start.
- Have a plan – We have written training plans for Team Heads Together Runners of all abilities, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
The sooner you can start the process the better….don’t wait until January!