Eight Point Two

Winter Training

The following article is written by Dave Taylor at Fell Running Guide: www.fellrunningguide.co.ukImage

Winter Training

Ok, you’ve signed up for a race next year and you know you should be out there training but the long hot summer is a distant memory and running doesn’t seem as enjoyable somehow!  So here’s a few tips to keep you training through these dark, wet winter months.

They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, I disagree, there’s some horrible weather!  Cold, wet, windy, foggy, hailstones, ice and snow.  You name it the British winter can throw it at us so we need to be well kitted out.

Shoes: off road running in winter means mud so you need something with a good grip.  Inov-8 Mudclaws and Salomon Fellcross are 2 examples of shoes that give excellent grip in the worst underfoot conditions.

Outer Layers: staying dry can mean the difference between enjoying your run and suffering.  Invest in a decent quality waterproofs (jacket and trousers).  Most races insist on carrying waterproofs so buying good quality lightweight kit is a good investment.  OMM Kamleika and Inov-8 Stormshell are worth looking at.

On cold dry days a windproof top such as the Inov-8 Race Elite is an ideal alternative to a full waterproof.

Mid / Base Layers: you need a material that will wick away perspiration.  There’s a wide choice from man-made to merino wool or a mix of both.  Your base layer needn’t be expensive but make sure it’s comfortable and doesn’t rub.  Personally I prefer something with merino wool for a bit of comfort.

I find that a long sleeved base layer under a wind or waterproof is sufficient on all but the coldest days but the danger comes if you need to stop or slow down for any reason, particularly if you are on the remote fells.  This is when an extra layer is needed.  I use a Primaloft jacket which offers excellent warmth to weight and packs down very small and is easily carried in a rucksack or larger bumbag.  An example is the OMM Rotor Smock.

For your legs a good pair of running leggings is needed.  Choose a pair with ankle zips that make them easier to get off when they’re wet and muddy, for example Inov-8 Race Elite tights.

Socks, Hat & Gloves:  Unfortunately at some point you’re going to get wet feet but a good woollen sock will help your feet stay wet and warm.  I use SealSkinz socks, which are sold as waterproof but in my experience aren’t!  However they do keep your feet damp and warm.

A hat is essential and can be anything that keeps your head warm but I wouldn’t get anything too bulky so that you can stow it easily in a pocket if you get too warm and have to take it off.  Something that covers your ears is best to keep out those icy winds.  I often use a buff as a hat with a second one around my neck.  This allows me to pull the bottom one up to make a balaclava to cover my mouth and nose if it’s really cold.

There is a huge selection of gloves to choose from.  A good windproof pair is worth a try.  Get a slightly bigger size to allow them to go on over a base pair for colder days.  For really cold days I recommend a pair of mitts such as Extremities Hot Bags but beware that your hands can get too warm sometimes!

Microspikes:  Don’t be put off by snow and ice.  Lots of people are reluctant to run off road in snow but it can be a really good workout and a bit of an adventure!  I’ve done lots of running wearing Kahtoola Microspikes which give excellent grip, particularly on ice and compacted snow.  Buy a pair of these and you actually look forward to it snowing – just like when you were a kid!

Headtorch:  Running off road at night can be good fun so don’t be afraid to get out to the countryside in the evenings just like you would do in summer.  Get together with a few friends and persuade them to come along for moral support, you’ll enjoy it!

Obviously you need a decent head torch and there’s a good choice of bright ones to be had nowadays.  It is possible to pay over £100 for a head torch but think about what you need it for; do you want it to light up the countryside like a lighthouse or will a lesser beam suffice.  Check the claimed battery life too especially if you plan on being out for a while.  USB rechargeable models such as the Petzl Tikka XP2 Core are a great idea.  I recommend using rechargeable batteries making sure that they’re fully charged before you venture out.  Runners doing the Ultra Tour of the Peak District may well be finishing in the dark so a torch that is reliable is important as is practising running off road in the dark.

Rucksacks & Bumbags:  With a bit more kit needed than in summer it might be that you prefer to use a running rucksack rather than a bumbag.  You shouldn’t need anything too big; the OMM Ultra 12 for example.  Remember that it won’t be waterproof so you need to bag anything inside that needs to stay dry.

Stay Safe:  Running in remote areas can be hazardous at any time of year but particularly so in winter when you’re more likely to get wet, cold, hungry and run out of daylight.  It’s a good idea to take more kit and food than you need.  Take an old phone (switched off) for emergencies, put a torch into your pack even if you aren’t planning on staying out too long, take a map & compass in case the visibility drops (and make sure you know how to use them!) don’t rely on your smartphone to get you out of trouble – the battery never ran out in a compass!

So get kitted out and enjoy your winter running.  See you out there!

Fell Running Guide www.fellrunningguide.co.uk

Most of the products mentioned can be found at Outside, Hathersage. http://www.outside.co.uk/collection/Dig+Deep+Race+Shop+Collection

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