After a fairly tame start to winter, the weather is really starting to bite. The first dusting of snow has hit parts of the UK and the temperature has dropped sharply. For runners it offers a few quandaries. Is it too icy to run on the roads? What extra clothing should I wear? Should I even go out at all?
Runners of all standards ponder the last one right through from the very best to absolute beginners. It wouldn't be human not to. But I would encourage all runners to avoid the easy option of skipping training sessions by using the cold weather as an excuse. For anyone tackling a spring marathon or indeed looking to make any real progress with their running in 2012, then this time of year is crucial. It is when the base of endurance is laid for the year ahead and the platform from which to try to reach set goals.
We have all had that feeling of reluctance to head outside when weather reports are all littered with talk of minus temperatures. It's only natural. But in reality, it's a little bit like that feeling of trepidation before diving into a swimming pool or plunging into the sea. The anticipation is always worse than the reality and within a few moments, you wonder what you were fussing about.
As long as you put on extra layers, add some gloves and hat, then running in the cold can be a rewarding experience. It also offers a huge psychological boost that you have overcome your fears and seen out your session.
Of course, there are potential dangers, such as icy pavements. So try and avoid anywhere too remote where the surface is treacherous. If it is icy, ensure you are wearing trainers with a good grip and only use pavements that are clear of ice or well gritted. If this is difficult, then it is an ideal opportunity to head off road.
Canal paths, forest trails and even beaches are great places to get a fresh training session and give your joints a breather from the higher impact of running on tarmac. If you are someone who simply cannot face the prospect outside then head to your local leisure centre or gym and use this time to cross train either by swimming, rowing, biking or using the cross trainer.
The most important thing is not to let your level of activity drop too much. Before you know it spring will have sprung and you have missed a crucial phase of your training. It is all too easy then to fall into the trap of making up for lost time, but this is where you are most vulnerable to injury.
Always build up your training incrementally. Avoiding training now, can leave you vulnerable to over-training later in the year or being under-trained to meet your goals later on in the the year.