Now that the Winter is nearly here, I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my own tried and true tips on winter-time training. We are now a few months out from Boston, the Big One, but winter training isn’t only about preparing for a spring marathon. These tips apply to any training that you’re doing right now.

Don’t take winter running too seriously!  

This is a time to focus on gradually (emphasis on gradually) building your mileage base and re-discovering your love for running. It’s perfectly okay if most of your runs right now are easy runs. Take it one day at a time and have fun with your training! The time will come to dial into your target race pace and start hammering your workouts. When it does, you may be wishing you had some time “off”. Winter is also a time when you can be (and may need to be) flexible with your training. Mother nature may throw you for a loop and mess with your running plans. If this happens, be open to running indoors - on a track or on the infamous "dreadmill" - or adjusting your schedule. Winter-time requires some flexibility and some patience.

Make sure every run has a purpose.

If you’re a more seasoned runner and you have already started to add some speed & strength work to your training, stay disciplined. My mantra is that easy days should be easy days. Don’t give into the temptation to hammer a run just because you feel good and you think you have a lot of time to recover, or a long way to go before the Spring or Summer. Running is a sport that builds on itself, and what you do now will matter down the road so make it purposeful.

Practice good training methods.

It takes about 3 weeks to develop a habit, and what you get into the habit of doing now will carry you through the rest of the winter. Do your dynamic warm-up and static cool down stretches every day that you run. Make friends with your foam roller or recovery stick, and use it religiously. Focus on eating right each day and getting the right amount of sleep each night. We should all adopt the same training methods that the pros use. After all, they do them for a reason, because they work! Top U.S. marathoner Desiree Linden says: “…I’ve become far more relaxed about the things that go in the training log. And at the same time, I have become more meticulous about the details outside of the miles: I’m better about eating right, getting rest, stretching, and so on.”

Wait until you’re closer to your target race before you set a time goal.

For the marathon, this would be about 7-8 weeks out. There are many variables that can influence your decision before then - the weather, how your body responds to training, life events that alter or interfere with your training - and waiting a bit ensures that you’re setting a realistic goal and putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed. Let your training dictate what your can run.

Get a coach!

If you’ve never had one before (and even if you have), it may be time to think about finding an experienced coach who can come up with a plan to help you achieve your goals this year. A coach can bring a unique perspective to your training, provide timely expertise, and help keep you on track especially during these colder months. Coaches also play an important role by guiding you through those rough patches in your training. They are not only coaches, they are also mentors, counselors and friends. If you’re currently being coached, that’s great! As long as that partnership is working and you’re meeting or exceeding your running goals then you are on the right path.

Use this advice to turn your winter into a great season of running. Get out there, #hittherhode and train smart!

Coach Mwangi