Winter has arrived at my house. I live in the middle of a moor, surrounded by only heather, hills and sheep; true fact! So winter for me arrives a few weeks before you normal folk who live near others, near roads and modern things like street lighting. I didn’t know that winter had in fact arrived however until I accidentally miss timed a run only last week. Having set off without a head torch, wearing all black except for blue (although very muddy) trail shoes meant I spent the second half hour of my run startling sheep who hadn’t seen me coming and tripping over rocks I hadn’t accounted for. Needless to say it turned in to more of a shuffle than a run.
This got me thinking, I needed to get in to the winter training mind-set, starting with clothing; warm and windproof yet breathable, reflective and bright, yet not some form of workman’s high–vis was needed.
I found the answer in Asics Lite Show running range and it is beautiful. This range is specifically designed for just what I needed, they have cleverly hidden reflective shapes in patterns all over a huge variety of clothing. Tshirts, jackets, leggings and even shoes that look as great as any other Asics product but flash a light over them they come to life! Try it with your camera flash.
Here’s how Asics put it for the Tshirt I opted for: This Asics lite-show running top is ideal for training sessions and night runs that take you past sunset. The lite-show print – made from a collection of reflective shapes on the short sleeves – offers maximum visibility in low light and the reflective bar on the back provides an additional glow.
No winter run kit list though would be complete without a kick ass pair of super warm leggings and a long sleeved top. Now ski thermals are ‘ski thermals’ for a reason there is no use you donning your fluffiest thermal long johns and heading out for a run as soon as your hit your stride you’ll be regretting it. Sweaty, damp, cold, uncomfortable, chaffing (?!!) all come to mind. Winter running bottoms and tops are not thicker or fluffier, it is all down to the makeup.
3 Things to look for if you want to be warm, dry and comfortable this winter:
- If you can go seamless, do it. This generally means you can get a tighter fit without risking chaffing. Heat is generated by trapping a fine layer of air around our bodies and allowing body heat to slowly warm that air. Clothing that is too loose allows new, cold air in, undoing all of your body’s hard work.
- Moisture wicking. To be honest this something to look for regardless of the weather, however being damp on a hot summer’s day might not be the end of the world. In the winter it is a sure fire way to ruin your workout. Our bodies naturally cool down by moisture evaporating from the surface of the skin (think getting out of a nice warm shower, you immediately feel cold once your wet skin hits the air) This is because the process of that moisture leaving our skin actually takes heat away with it, something you can’t afford to happen in the cold.
- Thinking back to the first point about trapping air; each layer of clothing you add traps a new layer of air that your body makes all toasty and warm, 1 top, one layer of air, 3 tops three layers of air….simple. Added to this that if you have overestimated the chill factor you have some options up your sleeve (literally) and you are not faced with the only options of running home topless or boiling in the bag of your big fluffy sweatshirt.
Even in winter I like to keep a few vest tops in the bank, I find them fab for layering and will often run in a long sleeved top with a vest underneath. If I’m running to the gym then this also makes temperature adjustments much easier once there. If you buy any new vests for the coming winter months then make sure you opt for the Y Back Tank, with a mesh back it is perfect for layering and therefore provides perfect temperature regulation on the coldest of winter nights. Actually from the Asics Tennis range this a fab piece of technical kit whilst having the looks to match. I love the colour contrasting, I love the narrow Y back, perfect for the gym and I love its breathability levels, no more sweaty crease down your lower back which looks oh so attractive. I love it!
So what if it’s blowing a gale and you don’t fancy being all hard core about it?!
Try my 4 sure fired way to ‘cross train’ your way through the winter months:
- Nothing new and ground breaking I know but swimming can be often over looked when it comes to ‘training’. Don’t feel this has to be left to the 5am teenage club swimmers or the 2pm Granny’s, swimming has it all. For all you regular runners swimming might be just what your body is craving, aerobic activity to mimic running without the stress on the body. Try mixing up blocks of kick with blocks of fast paced front crawl. I usually do sets of 100 (that’s 4 lengths in a 25 meter pool) of each allowing myself to get my breath back in between. You will be surprised just how much your legs burn from kick and how doing this regularly builds up muscular endurance which pays off in your longer runs.
Top Tip: Borrow a kick board from the swimming pool, if you are a big guy make it easier for yourself by having two, one on top of each other.
- In fact to be precise; Bouldering, if you know your stuff about climbing then add that in too but if you are a novice climber don’t panic bouldering is for you. Now don’t be mistaken in thinking bouldering is the watered down baby sister of climbing, oh no! Bouldering is a whole different recipe of its own. Mentally challenging, can you work out the best route in the time your muscles can hold on for and physically exhausting especially on the shoulders. You don’t need any harness, belaying or rope/knot knowledge and you don’t need any specialist kit. All you need is a bouldering wall, maybe a friend for company and off you go. The floors are these places are huge crash mats and even though you are only climbing head height you can always climb back down if you prefer rather than jump.
Top Tip: Kids love bouldering, excitement, jumping and falling is all part of it so take everyone along for a family afternoon workout like no other.
- Interval training. Not strictly cross training but one of the hardest parts of training in winter can be finding somewhere safe and light to run. School playing fields or parks are usually a good bet and rather than doing countless laps of a football pitch as your run, use its lines to your advantage. Blocks of 5are normally a good place to start, choose your distance (this might be to the half way line, across the width of the pitch or to the next tree) start with 5 single lengths at a fast pace with the time it takes you to slow jog back as your recovery. Using this as your baseline develop your session to suit your needs. If you need it easier, swap the job back for a walk back or a timed rest. Need it harder; do there and back sprints, increase the number of reps, length of rep or reduce rest.
Top Tip: The key to interval training is change of pace you are must better doing shorter faster reps than long slow ones that blur in to your normal run route pace.
- Head to your local gym and swap your usual session for an interval rowing session that will not only fire up those running muscles but is a great Ab blaster! The interval ideas in tip three can be applied to any piece of aerobic equipment indoor or out. Rowing however takes the pressure of the knees and hips whilst still working on the muscular endurance and aerobic endurance needed for running whilst being a secret super core workout.
Top Tip: Try the Asics Gel Fit Tempo Shoe for a super all round fitness shoe, perfect for any gym session of interval, strength and conditioning or both.
Finally if you are braving it and going out in the element you need to think safety, can you see? And can others see you?
- Unilite do a range of head torches for sport and running that have been actually thought about. As you will run more and more with your head torch you will learn how far in front of you, you want illuminating (this is personal taste). The unilite range have stiff enough pivot points that mean they stay pointing where you placed them. Grippers around the head band ensures it stays in place as you bounce along, no falling down and smashing you in the face with these. They have then reduced the weight to reduce the bounce and extended the battery life. Someone was thinking!
- The FittyUK training bling is the smallest yet brightest, cheapest yet comes with the longest lasting battery I have managed to find. This clear plastic band when switched off has three options of light flashing sequences and is insanely bright. Perfect to be round your wrist on a run, over your handles bars on your bike or your bag on a walk. You will not find a brighter band with replaceable battery, out there for cheaper, I have tried!
And that’s a rap… I hope this gets you through the winter, keeps you safe but also keeps you training hard. See you in the spring!
Remember weight training in winter = Speed in spring. Have a read to find out how and make the most of your winter training.