With the season now over, we thought we would ask Big Cow ambassador Emily for some advice on how you should approach the winter months so that you can hit the ground running in 2024! Here is what she said:
First things first, celebrate the success you’ve had this year. Think back over your races and your preparation, what went well, what not so well, what can you learn? What can you improve? Before you rush into anything new, take some time to reflect.
Whilst you give your mind some time to mull things over, take it a bit easier with the training. You don’t need to keep up the same intensity of training if your next race is not for months and months! You won’t be able to sustain it and you will just wear yourself out. Have a break, try something a bit different to usual but something that keeps you active – what about cross-country running or cycling, or climbing, or maybe a team sport? That way you are recovered and fired up to face the new upcoming race season when it’s time.
Over the winter it can be good to focus on your strength and mobility. Doing weights, pilates and other exercise that helps build your strength is a great thing to practice and can be done indoors! Strength training (lifting heavy weights) can improve exercise economy, lactate threshold, and anaerobic capacity. There can also be positive health effects on hormonal levels, in bone health, body composition and metabolism! There are loads of good exercises you can do such as deadlifts, squats, side lunges, step ups etc. Just have a quick search and there are lots of free resources!
Having some friends will make any activity more enjoyable and easier to stick to over the darker colder months. Maybe try and find a running buddy or join a club. Or just start going regularly to an event like parkrun, it’s more sociable than running alone and gives a nice structure to the weekend. I often try and do lots of base miles in winter as I usually do early season half marathons and marathons. I find running to and from park run, with a hard effort at park run in the middle, a fantastic way to mentally break up long runs!
Speaking of colder and darker, now is a good time to make sure you’re prepared for winter training. Have you got some hi-vis, some good lights, some good gloves? What about some hardier tyres on your bike, some mudguards? Training in winter is mentally tougher, so make sure you’re going to be warm, comfortable and safe!
Good luck training and see you at the Milton Keynes winter half!