Olympic long distance runner Jo Pavey stays on top of her training, come rain or shine. Zest's Victoria Tremlin gets her expert advice to help keep us on the road as the weather worsens.
After competing in both the 5,000m and 10,000m events, Jo Pavey’s London 2012 legacy included some extremely sore legs. Thanks to ice baths, physio and some gentle runs she’s back in full training for the Great North Run. And as the summer slips away Jo doesn’t plan to let the dark, wet weather halt her training. Here's her top tips to help us keep up the running regime into the autumn and winter.
“Winter training is actually better suited to endurance and marathon training. When you’re getting ready for a track season, bad weather can be disruptive if you’re trying to do speed work. Instead, I’ll be doing longer runs during the winter. Try to do runs unmeasured and just get out on trails. Slow down and make your runs longer to improve your endurance. You sometimes have to adjust the standards of what you’re achieving, but as long as you put the work in.”
Long distance training tips
“There’s no such thing as bad weather. It’s just about wearing the right clothing. Wear long tights and other things that are going to keep your muscles warm so you can keep performing. The one thing I always need to wear is long compression socks; they protect my calf muscles from getting strains. When it’s really cold I’ll wear long Lycra tights. I’ll wear two pairs of socks and sometimes two pairs of gloves. I’ll wear a hat and a headband. Wear loose tops instead of tight ones, so you can roll the sleeves up when you start to get warm. ”
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“When you get home from work and it's dark and rainy, running is the last thing you feel like doing. But if you join a club and meet with a group of runners or a friend it helps get you out of the door, as well as giving you that extra bit of social life too."
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“If you’ve got yourself into good shape during the summer, you will waste all that hard work if you don’t keep it up during the winter. You’ll also have to start from scratch in the spring. If you have a long break during the winter, you’ll be prone to injuries when you start again because your body has become deconditioned. Try to do all you can to continue your summer routine by getting the right gear and meeting up with people.”
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“Sometimes I’ll head off in the car to my run, but I’ll make sure I have a spare pair of clothes so I can change quickly. Take a flask with a hot drink in. It’s so important that you don’t get to a point where you’re freezing cold. That’s when you’ll lower your immune system.”
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“You don’t need to stop training in bad weather. You might need to modify where you’re training though. If it’s icy it might be unavoidable, so try some gym work. Vary what you’re doing as treadmills can cause injury if you suddenly start using them every day. I like aqua jogging; you wear a buoyancy belt and run in the swimming pool. You can work really hard doing this.”
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“I always try to be warm before I start. I’ll have a warm drink and if I’m driving to a run, I get the heaters on in the car to make sure I’m warm before I start a run.
“Afterwards I might have a protein recovery drink but I’ll then have a warm drink immediately after. Whip off wet, sweaty clothes and have a warm bath.”
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“Always wear a reflective bib. Always tell people where you’re going. If you’re going with someone, you could where a head torch but never go somewhere completely dark on your own.
“It wouldn’t be suitable for my training but if I wasn’t competing I’d try an aerobics class. There are so many really energetic aerobics classes that would be a great alternative to exercising outside if it's too dark.”
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If you can set yourself a goal, like a 10k or half marathon, that will give you a purpose. If you have a race coming up, you’ll have something to aim for and a reason to train and stay fit. You’ll also avoid the winter blues because when you get back from that run you’ll feel much better about yourself.”
If you're training for a half marathon, try our 12-week programme.
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