Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The key to all training is preparation, but the winter months can be especially brutal in preparing to tackle 26.2. Let this serve as your guide to making it to the start of your spring marathon raring to go!
Break It Up
If you can, break long runs into two parts, doing a portion of each throughout the day. Maybe tackle the bulk of your mileage on the treadmill in the morning when temperatures are especially cold and finish it off later in the day when you can run outside more comfortably. Worried about breaking up what should be a continuous long run? Don’t. Studies confirm that breaking a long run (a 20-miler, for example) into two parts within a six- to eight-hour period will not negatively impact your training as long as that is not the only way you are logging your long runs.
Get On The Tread
I know this may not be a popular choice, but if you can learn to endure the treadmill, your marathon training may become more consistent. There are times when you cannot possibly hit the roads, due to snowstorms or dangerous, icy conditions. It’s during these times that the treadmill can be your best friend. If you go into the experience with a positive attitude and some of our best playlist, podcast and television suggestions, you will be done before you know it. It also helps to save the treadmill workouts (if you can) for shorter or more intense training sessions.
Think Like A Triathlete
I throw this tip into the mix because I am a triathlete and I know the benefits of cross-training. That said, you obviously need to get your long runs done to build endurance if you want to finish upright after 26.2 miles of running. But don’t hesitate to turn to pool running, swimming, cycling or strength training when you just can’t get your run done. One of the best benefits of cross-training? Injury prevention!
Phone A Friend
Misery loves company–and besides, the miles always go by quicker when you are not alone. The buddy system works on so many levels; especially during the winter months when it’s cold, dark and scary outside. Even if you don’t have a running buddy with the same race goal, try to find ways to run with a group or just one other runner. Coordinate easy days, invite friends to the track where you can carry out your own workout while still being part of a group, or ask if you can join (or have someone join you) for part of a long run.
One bonus to winter training is that you get to experiment with gear! There are plenty of winter running gear guides out there, but clothing and accessories ultimately come down to personal preference. Keep a journal documenting the temperature and clothing that worked–and don’t skimp on the details. Note which gloves, hats, socks and other pieces of clothing worked, and in which temperatures. You can even leave gear, as you would fuel or hydration, at designated spots so you can pick up or drop off clothing, as long as it’s safe to do so. All of this experimentation will come in handy on race day, no matter the weather.