It’s been said before that winter isn’t so much a season as a state of mind. In truth it’s a bit of both. How we approach winter depends as much on what’s inside our heads as it does on what’s outside the door.
As runners, we’re programmed, or conditioned, to consider summer running the height of perfection and winter as its polar opposite. Winter running has an image problem severe enough to make us want to put our trainers into hibernation until March, whatever the conditions. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
As any sports psychologist will tell you, the power of positive thinking is immense. From visualising yourself crossing the line to repeating positive mantras, your brain will make sure you get to the finish long after your legs have given up. Even when it’s up against the forces of Jack Frost, your brain can win.
So this winter, banish negative thoughts. Concentrate on the good things winter brings. And yes, there are many. For a start, fewer races mean a rare chance to recharge your batteries. Treat bad conditions as an opportunity, not as a threat. Weather-enforced layoffs can be a great time to add variety and sharpness to your winter training through treadmill speed sessions. Cross training is important all year round, but having a go-to indoor winter option at the ready will help keep fitness high and excuses to a minimum. Many performance coaches advise their runners to switch to cross-country in the winter for a break from icy roads. Why not give it a try yourself? And don’t be afraid of the dark: if conditions allow, head off-road with a head torch for a totally different view of your favourite route. Rather than concentrating on what you can’t do in winter, listen to those psychologists again and concentrate on what you can only do in winter.
Christine Appel – Scottish Running Guide.