Winter Marathon Training

Staying Active During the Colder Months

While the idea of training for a marathon in below freezing temperatures may be as appealing as a root canal, there are alternatives to enduring the frigid temps while keeping your routine alive. In fact, most runners who are training for a marathon continue their training throughout the year. During the winter, one of the most important considerations to bear in mind when keeping up with your winter marathon training is safety.

There are a number of challenges to be faced leading up to and following the winter solstice. Runners may have to contend not only with low temps, but freezing rain and snow as well. It can be risky running in below freezing temps for longer than ½ hour as it increases the risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

winter-marathon-trainingRunning in the snow and water can be dangerous and lead to excessive moisture in your running shoes. Avoid running on ice as it may increase the risk of serious injury. If you must run on snow, consider adding some traction to your shoes to provide some extra grip.

One alternative to outdoor winter marathon training is to take a portion of your routine inside and onto a treadmill. While long runs should take place outside, treadmills in the most extenuating circumstances, are helpful because they enable you to change your pace as you might do when training for a long run outdoors. Although it does take some time to adjust to the relatively mundane experience of running without varied terrain, you can make adjustments to your incline to challenge your endurance and target select muscles. Running on a treadmill is most applicable when weather conditions are so extreme that they do not permit you to run safely outdoors. If the treadmill just isn’t your cup of tea, you can also hit an indoor running track at a local gym.

Another important factor in winter marathon training is gear. As in the case of summer, fall and spring training, having the proper attire and equipment is necessary to get the most from your long runs. During the coldest months of the year, you certainly need to think about your core temperature. Your gear should be comfortable, lightweight, protective and with adequate ventilation. Keeping your feet dry is essential; wear moisture wicking socks and do not run in wet shoes. Cover your extremities and cover your head to prevent loss of heat from your body. Chances are if your extremities are numb, you may not even be aware that frostbite has set in.

In general, adequate hydration and proper nutrition is always a must, this is no exception when it comes to marathon training in the winter.  Ensure that you are well-fueled before and during your runs to keep your body functioning properly. Training for a marathon during the winter is challenging and can indeed take its toll on the body. Listen to your body, know your limits, and run smart.


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