Ok, so you don't need to run through the night like my friend Mark and I did during the Marathon Des Sables. As you can see from the photograph above, it does nothing for your hair ... but you can avoid the excuse of not being able to do an early morning run, if you have a headtorch.
I know the mornings are dark and the evenings are dark. I won't deny this has affected my running. However, I have entered a new challenge for September next year, so with this in mind, I am feeling very motivated. This means I have to fit my running in at stupid o'clock on some days, so I depend upon my headtorch.. it keeps you training on your busy days in the winter months.
Next September I plan to run in the Grand To Grand Ultra. This is roughly a 167 mile run over seven days in the Grand Canyon. It is a self sufficient run, like the previoius runs I do, so I will be carrying all my own kit again.
Now, I get asked all the time how do I train for these events, do I just run loads and loads?... Well, yes and no. Running is important, but equally so is injury prevention.
The best way to avoid injuries is ... no not stay in bed... but to get strong! The stronger your muscles, the better state your body will be in.
In my case, strength training is particularly important because of the history of my broken back. This December, it will be exactly four years since I burst my L4 vertebra and told I may never walk again.
I am one lucky girl. I can do more than walk...and I keep putting myself to the test to see what else I can I do. I do things that someone with a back injury like mine is 'not supposed' to do and told you can't do by Doctor's who have never themselves broken their back, because I believe if my body allows me to do it, then there is no reason why I shouldn't.
So, I do barbell squats, deadlifts, good mornings and use the leg press. Lately, I have been having alot of fun with 'Crossfit' training. Crossfit is hard and intense, but the great thing about it is form is everything.
I have had the luxury of being coached by a certified Crossfit Instructor who also happens to be a Rugby Coach, so as you can imagine he really tests me! My back feels incredible for it. I am stronger now than I ever was.
This is the last workout I did.
21 Squat clean and presses with an Olympic bar
21 overhand supine pull ups
15 Squat clean and press
15 overhand supine pull ups
9 Squat clean and presses
9 overhand supine pull ups
400 m row
This was done as quckly as possible but keeping good form throughout. I managed it in 9mins 16 seconds. I will beat it next time!
So, as you can see, it isn't all about running for me. I like my workouts to be about challenges. It's what makes training fun. I don't like routine, I need to jazz things up.
With my running, I have taken my mileage right down because of all the extra leg training I am currently doing. I am starting from 30 miles a week, building it up each week by about 10 per cent more.
One day a week I do a long run. I am starting with a 12 mile run, and building that long run up each week. My aim will be around 125 miles a week. This will happen gradually, as every four to six weeks, I bring the mileage down again a little, then build up by 10 per cent again. My training on a graph would look like lots of rolling hills!
I will also do one run a week with a rucksack. I start with it light, and then over the weeks build the weight up to 12kg.
Once a week I either do a hill rep training session, which just means I run up the same hill several times, but I find a nice looking steep one, or I do a speed workout. I don't do both in the same week.
My speed workouts I usually do on my treadmill because I tend to cheat less, as I am watching my speed all the time, and I am less likely to injure myself by jarring. When you are missing a disc, you have to be careful runnning fast!
Of course, all this training takes time, and I fit it in around work. I usually train five clients a day, and I often do the workout with them. I don't include any runs I do with clients as part of my own running miles. That's why I have a good quality headtorch.
Buy one yourself, then you won't use these shorter winter days as an excuse.