Let's face it, winter marathon training isn't for the faint of heart, with the waning daylight hours and the cold weather. Here are tips for successful winter training.
Long runs: No cutting corners here. A long run needs to be done outside unless you live in extreme weather conditions (see treadmill training below). If it's really cold, wait until midday to run and use the early morning for a core or flexibility session. In the winter you (and your shoes) will need a longer warm up. Be patient and let your body get into a groove.
Hydration: Even though it isn't hot, your hydration needs are pretty much the same. The biggest difference is that you won't be feeling the outward signs of your work (sweat and salt). On really cold days, keep your fluids under your outer layer so they don't freeze.
Functional gear: Lightweight gloves and a skullcap can be pulled off and stuffed into the pockets of an outer layer. The outer layer should be windproof and have zippers in the armpits for ventilation.
Treadmill training: Without external stimuli such as hills and wind, your heart rate will be lower on a treadmill. It also makes a difference that the treadmill is pushing your legs instead of you pulling your body forward.
Counteract these issues by manipulating the grade periodically to stimulate your heart. Running at zero percent grade is similar to running on a slight downward slope. Kick it up to a minimum of one percent to mimic your normal running style. Change up the incline and pacing to stimulate different muscle groups during your run.
Patrick McCrann, author of a Boston Marathon Training Plan, is a seven-time Ironman finisher and avid endurance runner. He blogs weekly, offering various training tips and free support on the PTS forum. For more go to http://www.performancetrainingsystems.com.