In the last few days it’s been fair to say the temperatures have dropped. It’s been less mid-autumn and more all-out winter. In the north, there was even some snow and this unseasonal weather obviously affects training.
Clearly if the problem is merely the cold then that can be counter-acted by wearing some well-made baselayers or tights (and yes, even men can wear them!). But the cold weather also has other effects apart from just making you cold: even if your body is well wrapped up, your body will pick-up on the cooler outside temperature and try harder to keep you warm, which can mean you produce more lactic acid, particularly post-exercise.
One way round this is to exercise for longer but less frequently, but even when well wrapped-up it can be difficult to sustain the motivation to stay running for two hours when the weather is at its bleakest.
A better solution is to adapt your training in the winter – top athletes do it by going somewhere sunny, but that’s not really practical for most people – but more simply, try exercising indoors. Even if you’re a runner or cyclist, you can do wonders for your overall fitness by swapping one outdoor session a week for an hour in the pool. Who knows – you might even be tempted to take up triathlon if you really enjoy the swimming!
On the other hand, there’s plenty of people who want to keep up running even in the winter, but cannot bear the thought of a treadmill. Apart from just trying to grin and bear it, one way round the problems of winter is to train during a lunch break, rather than in the morning or evening – that should ensure you get the mildest weather of the day and can see where you’re going, but with the British weather, obviously there’s no guarantees.
Clearly, this isn’t an option for everyone. If you really need to train in the dark and wet, make sure you invest in the best – and grippiest – pair of trainers you can. Many of the injuries suffered in winter training come from a lack of confidence (people try and test the ground and then slip) and having faith in your equipment is of paramount importance. Even so, be incredibly reticent to train if there is any ice on the ground – it sounds obvious, but it’s a lot better to miss a training session or two than to go out and twist an ankle or have a serious injury.
Nobody is at their sporting best in the winter – that’s to be expected – and there are a whole host of genuine excuses to miss training in the winter…unless you’re a skier!