The value of a target

Like many people, I suppose, I started running to lose weight and keep fit. Somewhere in my cortex was the nagging feeling that I really shouldn’t live such a sedentary life: out of bed, sit down for breakfast, walk to the car or the tube and sit down on my commute to the office… where I sit down for the day and then sit down on my commute home before sitting down for dinner and then on the sofa for a couple of hours before going back to bed. I just instinctively knew that was all wrong.

The difference with training

Have a target

But training for something is different to running to keep fit or running because you feel that you ought to. Training, for me, is about constantly pushing the boundaries of what you are, and what you believe you are, capable of. You don’t need to run six, seven, eight or even nine or ten times a week to keep a promise to your ancestors. You probably should, but you don’t need to.

Once you are into running every day and then twice a day a few days a week, with only the occasional rest day and then adding cross-training or strength and conditioning work on top of that, then you must be training for something: something challenging and motivating and slightly beyond what you have done before. A target.

And this is why I believe that targets are so important

Once you have set yourself a target, then you know what you have to achieve and by when. From that point, it is a matter of working out what you need to do between then and now to achieve your target. There are suggestions for how you should plan the time you have between when you set your target and the date of the target:

  1. don’t increase the amount and intensity of the training you are doing too fast – you’ll just get tired and/or injured
  2. make sure you incorporate rest into your schedule – that includes whole days off and weeks when you drop the mileage and intensity
  3. plan for sore muscles and fatigue by making sure you get a massage from time to time and making sure you can sleep enough
  4. have some flexibility in your schedule to take into account illness or commitments that you weren’t expecting
  5. try to make sure that you have the means to eat well as you ramp up the training

I also think that it is important that the target should be a logical step on from something you have done before. If you’ve run a 10km then target a half-marathon. If you’ve run a half-marathon then target a marathon. If you’ve run any distance, set a target to run it faster. The reason I say this, is that I think it’s important for the target to be challenging, but not feel impossible. I once worked for a chap who used to talk about the portion of our sales target that was “unidentified reach” – which basically meant the sales that we had no idea where we there were going to come from. If the portion of the sales target that was unidentified reach go too big, the stress levels would really rise. So make your target something that you are at least partly confident you can achieve.

Tactics

So what do I do when I have set myself a target. Well it is a combination of the following:

  • get advice from people who have already achieved what you are hoping to achieve – think Felix Baumgartner calling upon Colonel Joe Kittinger for his super-sky dive.
  • surround yourself with positive people who believe in you as much, if not more, than you do.
  • research: read books and watch videos, especially when your fortitude starts to waver.
  • have a store of inspiration – videos, books or music – that really gets you pumped up. This is one of my favourites.
  • break it all down. You don’t need to go and run your marathon PB tomorrow – take each day, each week, each month one at a time and bank each one for when the day comes.
  • be consistent. It is important that you do go for that run today or stretch or do that core session or not get plastered on a Friday night. All of these things will add up to deliver you to you target in great shape.
  • be patient. There are no shortcuts. It will be hard at times and there will be set-backs, but just keep steadfastly plodding along and you’ll get there.
  • visualise the moment when it all pays off. I can’t tell you how many times, in my mind, I ran up the Mall towards the finish line in the 2012 London marathon before I did it on the day. It felt good every time I imagined it. It felt indescribably good when I actually did it!

This, of course, is not gospel. It is only my take on it. But I do believe there are some universal truths in here, the main one being that you cannot blag a marathon – not a good one anyway. So set yourself a target, create a plan, put the right things in place and – as my friend Charlie Dark says – DO DA TING!

 

London Marathon Race Report 2012 by Catherine Wilding

Such a perfect Day

After days of torrential downpours, the skies cleared and the morning broke to brilliant sunshine in a cloudless blue sky.  There was a chill in the air and the temperature was around 7 degrees.   It was a perfect day on the streets of London for anyone running or indeed watching the London Marathon.

Kenya had declared the race their official Olympic trial.  There was never any doubt that the Kenyan’s were going to dominate both the men’s and women’s races.  If you were a betting man, you would have had your money on a Kenyan.  But with past winners, defending champions and world record holders in the field, there was no clear choice for winner.

A race within a race

To add to the excitement the British were also battling it out. With five women contending for the one remaining spot for the Olympic Marathon and in the Men’s race four men aiming to run inside the Olympic qualifying time of 2.12.  Scott Overall was the only man to have already earned selection for the British team, after running an impressive debut marathon in Berlin in 2011 in a time of 2.10. He was toeing the start line here in London in a bid to pace his fellow Brits to a sub 2.12 finish and a place on the team.  On the women’s side, Paula Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi had already been selected.  Jo Pavey was a contender for the final spot but had chosen not to run in London having clocked 2.28.24 in London last year.  A dramatic sub-plot to the main race was about to unfold.

Even before the gun went off, it was shaping up to be a spectacular day.

The Elite Women

At 9am the women set off at a conservative pace. The early miles unfolded in a way that suggested they were sticking to their race plan.  The front group dominated by the African runners were being lead by the pacemakers and with no clear leader emerging they seemed to be working together.  A little further back and the British women were also sticking together lead by their designated pacemaker.  Louise Damen was heading the pack at 10k, by which stage Liz Yelling had already dropped back.  A veteran by comparison and with two Olympics behind her it appeared Liz’s third and final bid at the Olympics was already slipping away.  However, another veteran, the 42 year old reigning Olympic champion, Constantina Dita was here  just to run a qualifying time in a bid to defend her Olympic title in August.

At the half way mark the leading pack of ten runners were maintaining a consistent pace and still working together.  With a half split of just under 1.11, it didn’t look like the Kenyan’s were on course to break records.

A Fast Pace

Meanwhile the men’s race was already under way and unsurprisingly had set off at a blistering pace with a first mile of 4.41. Following the pacemakers was a pack of thirteen men including the World record holder Patrick Makau;  three time London Marathon winner Martin Lel; last years winner, Emmanuel Mutai  and his five Kenyan countrymen all in contention for Olympic selection.  At the 5K mark with a pace of 14.37 we were potentially looking at a new World Record.  29.36 was the eye-watering pace at 10K but didn’t seem to be quick enough for Makau who was pushing the pacemakers. By mile 10 however we lost Makau who dropped off the course with a hamstring injury.

It was Wilson Kipsang’s turn to surge forward with a half way split of 62.12 as the rest of the pack struggled to keep up. At the 25k mark there were three men in contention and both a course record and world record was still on the cards.

A new Kenyan Record on the Mall

Back in the women’s race, the defending champion Mary Keitany had already broken away from the pack in the closing few miles with a 4.59 mile.  She was heading towards the finish line and with another London title in sight was looking confident and at ease with a virtually effortless running style. With her last two miles in 5.02 and 5.03 she had completed the second half just over 3 minutes quicker than the first to cross the line in 2.18.37.  Her time being the third ever fastest for a woman and breaking the Kenyan record previously set by the great Catherine Ndereba.

With 800m to go Edna Kiplagat gave a quick glance over her shoulder to ensure that second place was in the bag.  She also broke the 2.20 mark running 2.19.50.  Just behind her in third place was Priscilla Jeptoo to make it a Kenyan-only podium with all three earning selection for the Olympic team.

Battle of the Brits

The excitement was still unfolding in the women’s race as Louise Damen had dropped back and Claire Hallisey was leading the British women with Freya Murray just a few steps behind.  Hallisey strode confidently into the Mall to finish in 2.27.44 and 11th place knocking almost two minutes off her personal best and earning herself a place in the 2012 Olympics.  Just behind her in an incredibly impressive debut of 2.28.10 was Freya Murray.  A relatively disappointing 2.31.37 was the time on the clock for Louise Damen.

Kipsang Surges Ahead

Back in the men’s race and Kipsang had surged ahead just after the 20 mile mark opening up a gap.  The only question now was whether he was on course for a new record.  As he took the right hand turn into Parliament Square and along Birdcage walk there was no-one else in sight.  It was a clear win. Only narrowly missing out on the course record by four seconds, he crossed the line in 2.04.44 .   There was a closer fight for second and third place.  Having hung on until the final miles Kirui started to fade and Martin Lel outsprinted Kebede to finish in second place more than two minutes behind Kipsang.  Kebede took third.

Despite his second place finish, Lel was not selected for the Olympic team.  Such is the level of distance running in Africa, neither was Kebede selected for the Ethiopian team

Lee Merrien had the honour of being the first British man across the line in a personal best of 2.13.41.  Outside the 2.12 qualifying time for Olympic selection it was initially disappointing.  However Merrien was later selected on appeal.

Then came the rest

They may be no match for the Kenyan’s and the Ethiopians, but the serious amateurs in their club vests running impressively fast times are also worthy of applause.  It takes commitment, dedication and guts to even be in the same race as the professionals running 100+ miles a week.  With 800m to go and not long after Kipsang had passed the same spot, a Mornington Chasers vest stood out.  A smiling Simon Freeman managed a wave to the crowd [actually the wave was only to you Catherine! ed], on the home straight and confident of a new PB.  Much further back came the fun runners in their costumes making the London Marathon the colourful and fun race that encourages nearly 40,000 runners to take part every year.

London will be alive again come August with the World’s best runners over the 26.2 mile distance. Surely the African nations will be set to dominate again.

Runner at the Sharp End #4: Ben Wickham

I first met Ben at the Hackney Marshes ParkRun where it became immediately obvious that we were quite evenly matched. At the time I was living in Hackney so Ben and I were neighbours and ended up running the same races a few times. I was immediately and really hugely impressed by Ben’s level of dedication (as well as his amazing sun glasses – more on that later) and it was obvious to me that Ben would be someone that I would find myself chasing quite often in races. He had already set himself the target of a sub-75 minute half marathon and a sub-2:45 marathon when I met him and at a couple of races where we both ran, he came fiercely close to the half marathon target. Then with the London marathon 2012 looming on the horizon, it clearly all came together and Ben ran 73:19 at the Paddock Wood Half Marathon on 1 April and then cruised to an eight minute PB with 2:42:19 time in the London. Truly a runner at the sharp-end, here is what Ben had to tell me and if you want more from Ben follow him at twitter.com/@benjiwickham

To begin with could you give us some background about yourself and your running? What distances do you run? What are your personal bests (and what were your first times for those distances)?
Ben in full flow... in a triathlon (but we'll forgive him for that)

I used to occasionally run the odd 10k. Maybe once a year. I always wanted to do a marathon, but badly strained my IT band whilst training (badly) in 2009, making it almost impossible to run any distance. From there I took to swimming and cycling to rehab it, and built the miles slowly to get to the start line of the 2010 London Marathon. Along the way I sort of turned myself into a triathlete.  My previous best time was somewhere around 55mins for a 10k. In training for that marathon I realized I had some potential to run pretty well, and by the time I got to the start I was shooting for sub-3. However, I exploded, running the 2nd half in 2hrs 10min, posting 3:39. Rather than put me off it fired me up to see how fast I could go. So far I have a 16:38 5k, 34:45 10k, 73′ half and 2:42 full. Those last two took some doing 😉

How long have you been running and why did you start in the first place?

I’d say I’ve been seriously running since the build up to VLM in 2010, so maybe just under 3 years, but I’d done a little bit of fun-running before. I always enjoyed the racing and the act of seeing how hard you could push you body over a given distance. As my limits expanded I just kept on looking for the edge, and still am.

Are you coached? And if so, by whom?

I’m not coached, but I read a lot, and listen a lot. I tend to try and absorb every detail about anything that interests me. I have a number of people who I bounce ideas off and discuss anything sports related. Top of the list are Mark Sheppard, who taught me Tai Chi, and coaches a variety of sports, and Hilary Ivory, who is a journalist, author (collaborating on Paula’s latest book), personal trainer, and has a marathon PB of 2:40.

(Aside from your coach, if you have one) who or what has been the biggest influence on your running and why?

Ironically, I’d say the biggest influence on my running was the injury to my IT band. It forced me to take up swimming and cycling, which have been vital in allowing my training to continue injury free, and it forced me to forensically examine my technique. The memory of not being able to run also keeps me sensible when I develop niggles.

What is the best piece of running advice you have ever been given? Who gave you that advice?

Stretch your calves. So many injuries and niggles that I develop can be traced to tight calves. They tend to feel OK, but pull on other bits of your legs, and you develop an injury that seems unrelated… and it’s not until you do a decent stretch you actually notice how bad they are!

What is your favourite bit of kit and why?

Definitely my Oakleys. I think it’s vitally important to keep your face relaxed, as tension creeps into the shoulders and down into the hips and legs. The ability to keep your head up and eyes open is crucial to reducing tension. They also put me mentally in race-mode… physically feeling like a barrier to the outside world. And let’s face it.; I’m a triathlete too… They look cool.

What has been, or where is, your favourite race?

New York Marathon 2011. It was the first time I felt controlled and relaxed all the way through a marathon, allowing me to soak up the sights. Lots of friends on the course, simply the best start I’ve ever seen, and coming down onto 1st Avenue is spine-tingling.

What do you think has had the biggest effect on you improving your times?

Specific training. Lots more slow miles, and less, but more targeted speed work. I leave it really late these days to tailor my training for races and as a result arrive much less burnt out to the start line, and have less injuries.

With the benefit of hindsight, if you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be and why?

You have depths and abilities you cannot imagine right now. I was never picked for any team at school, and was bottom of the class at music. These days I happily play guitar by ear and blitz marathons. I’m not sure I would change my past, but if only I’d known I may have found out sooner.

Do you stretch enough?

See my answer above. Calves, calves calves. And some IT bands for good measure.

What do you think about the general state of running in the UK and, assuming you don’t think it is perfect, what could be done to improve it?

Running at elite level to me seems to be coming out of a bit of a low patch. Whilst we aren’t up there with the east africans, there are certainly green shoots. It’s always going to be a hard sell as a lifestyle, but improvements will take years, and there are genuine characters in the sport to help. We need to push these characters. Use the interest that they generate with sponsors and race directors to create massive events, and media coverage off the back. Athletics is starting to get huge coverage these days, and it’s likely that in 3, 4 years time we may see the benefits of that. However, at a grass roots level, I think it’s never been greater. Parkrun, running clubs and local races all combine to make it a genuinely mass participation sport, and one that brings me into contact with all sorts of people. At my level, running has everything I ever need.

What is your overall ambition for your own running? What do you think you need to do to achieve that?

Simply to keep on pushing that edge. I’m aware that my limits will occur before I can set the word on fire with my running, but as long as I’m on my limit, I’m happy. I need to be honest with myself, and push more when I can. You need to learn the difference between your body saying no and your mind.

Please complete the following: I run because…

… by looking for the outside edge of your performance, not only do you learn  that edge is much further away than you ever thought possible, but quite probably all your self-imposed limits.

The London marathon 2012

As I stood on the start line of the London marathon this year, I couldn’t help feeling a pang of fear. Obviously there was the usual butterflies associated with the desire to do my best, the knowledge that pain was inevitable, the worry that maybe I should have done more or eaten less or worn different kit. But there was an added dimension this year. Twelve months ago, on a hot day, I had run the London in a disappointing 2:43. Disappointing because I had trained hard and thought I was in shape to improve on my 2:40 personal best. The heat and my inability to adjust to cope with that, along with a fairly quick first half, put paid to that. In the subsequent de-brief with my coach Nick Anderson from RunningWithUs we had agreed – me rather reluctantly – that I would not run an autumn marathon in 2011 and instead wait a year for my chance to redeem myself.

So here I was, on another sunny morning, after a year of training, hoping for the elusive personal best performance. Nervous only begins to describe it!

The race unfolds

© Enrique Casarrubios

The air temperature at the start was ideal: around 7˙C. However there was a breeze, blowing from the west and there wasn’t really a cloud in the sky. It was not going to be perfect so I knew I would have to deal with that, but I felt ready.

I edged closer to the front of the Championship start pen than I had the year before. No matter that the qualifying standards for the Championship start are pretty tough (sub-2:45 marathon or sub-75 minute half for the men), there were still people that I would have to pass, so I wanted the clearest run possible. We were walked up behind the elite men and after the elite field introductions, right on time at 9:45am, we were off!

I had been told by Nick that the first three miles were to be the warm-up. In fact, with a downhill start and a bucket-load of adrenaline, I passed each mile marker at target race pace – 6 min/mile. But it felt great – really easy and smooth and I soon feel in step with a group running at the same pace. The only downside to this is that I was shielded from the westerly wind which I would encounter in the last six or seven miles, so I wasn’t prepared for it when I faced it on my own. Still, I was loving racing and the feeling of gliding along.

By half way I was still feeling great. I had talked to Nick about pacing the race right and we had agreed that I would go through half way in 78-79 minutes. As I passed under the half way gantry the clock read 78:30. Perfect.

It’s getting hot in here…

The only issue at this stage was that it was warming up. I had consumed two of my four gels by that point and so I took out the two that were tucked in my arm-warmers and pulled my arm-warmers down to my wrists. But then I just had hot wrists. So the arm-warmers came off and down the front of my shorts. A mere 800m later and my new cod-piece was feeling very uncomfortable. So out they came and I tossed them to the side of the road about half a mile before we turned right into Wapping. I felt free again!

I had also decided that I needed to take on water. I think that one of the problems in 2011 was that I didn’t adjust my water intake sufficiently and so I was horribly dry by the time I was forced to stop and take a drink. This year I deliberately slowed through the water stations and made sure that when I took a bottle of water I drank three or four good mouthfuls. The rest went either over my head or more usually I squirted the back of my legs (ahhhh, bliss!)

Friends and crowds

I have heard it said that one runs the first half of a marathon with the head and the second half with the heart. I agree, that there is a switch where emotion becomes massively important. During the race I heard my name called out a few times. At mile 16 I saw my Mum and Dad. At mile 17 there was an advanced RunDemCrew party with Linda Byrne shouting encouragement. At that stage I still felt pretty good.

Just before the 21st mile, on a very sparsely populated section of the course, I saw Nick and his fianceé – and fellow coach – Phoebe. I was feeling good and just thinking about getting my head around the last 10km. Nick and I locked eyes and he repeated the instructions he’d given me before the race for this point. Relax, work hard and try to catch the vest in front. At that point I knew that I was going to succeed with my targets.

At mile 21 I passed the RunDemCrew‘s main cheering point. That was a massive boost as a huge group roared me on (you can read about what it felt like to see the ‘Crew here). Next stop, the Mornington Chasers.

The Chasers cheering…

My club, the Mornington Chasers, traditionally have a cheering point on the Highway, near mile 22 so they can see the runners just after half way and then again on the way back with 4 miles to go. On my route out to Canary Wharf I had, of course, seen the Chasers across the road and I noticed that the club flag was tied to a huge tree. I banked that bit of info for later.

On the way back I spotted the tree from quite a long way away, but this is a dead straight section of road and I know that Tom Craggs, who had his hawk-eye on times for the Chasers running, also saw me quite a way out. I must admit, and I’ll take this opportunity to apologise, that I didn’t really see anyone except Tom. But there was another rush of noise, much like at the RunDemCrew station, which sent the hairs on my neck into a frenzy!

In 2011 I had passed this point, and many of the same people, in a bad state and quite a way behind schedule. This time I had good form, I felt great, I was on track and I loved seeing the flash of smiles and hands and the noise. Four miles left and I was going to do it.

The end is nigh

From Tower Hill the race did become a matter of battling the wind and trying as hard as possible to catch the person in front. I pushed as hard as I could, but the lack of a group to shelter from the wind with meant that I was working hard to keep 6 minute miles. Some of the people I passed looked crushed and I flew past them. Others, who were holding it together, proved impossible to catch. So I simply locked in the pace (thanks to Alex Kitromilides for that phrase), repeated my mantras and concentrated on not allowing the nausea I was feeling to develop into anything that would slow me down.

Past Westminster and along Bird Cage Walk, I just counted and counted. I saw Catherine Wilding on the right and flicked her a wave. But really all I could do was keep pushing. As I came onto the Mall I could see the clock and raced for every second I could get. Nothing registered in that final 300m. I crossed the line in 2:38:30, in 138th place, with a new personal best and bloody sore feet.

And that is really the story of my race. I was a little disappointed to run a positive split and ‘lose’ 90 seconds in the second half (78:30 1st half vs 80 minutes for the second half) but PB are rare as hens’ teeth and so I’m delighted that all the work paid off on the day and I managed to hang on into the wind in the last few miles. What I do know is that it was most definitely worth the training and I’ll be back for more!

Despatches from the front line

I’d done my run this morning (actually my wife, who, being Swiss, is genetically programmed to forgo drink, food and sleep in the presence of snow, had me out running by 7am this morning in London’s first snow this winter) and I had settled down to write a blog post or two and check what the world was up to when I happened to notice that Ben Moreau (@ben_moreau) was online. Ben flew to Iten in Kenya a week ago for a few weeks’ training in advance of his attempt at Olympic qualification at the London marathon in April this year. So I jumped on the opportunity to ask him how things were going. He updated me on what was happening out there and I thought I’d pass on his news.

Ben said that he has finally acclimatised to the altitude and had “experienced one Kenyan training session”. How was it? “It was brutal”. Now coming from a man like Ben Moreau, who I have seen train and race on numerous occasions, when he says it was brutal, that means it must have been massively tough. Ben also said that he is being sensible, but that has to be put in the context of where he is and what he is doing – his sensible and most other peoples sensible are certainly going to be different!

I mentioned to Ben that I’d been out running in the snow and how hard I’d found it and he replied that whilst I was jogging in the snow he had discovered myth #1 about east African runners: that Kenyans always start runs slow. He told me about the long (erm, slow) run that he did yesterday where the 3rd mile was 5.28 min/mile and he was hanging off the back of the group!

Today included a well earned easy 45 minutes run after yesterday’s run and who can blame Ben for taking it easy. The long run was 16 miles in 95 minutes with the last 4 miles uphill.

Ben sent me his Garmin stats for Saturday’s run, just to give me an idea for what a long slow run looks like in Kenya:

Total time: 1hr 40mins
Average pace: 6:10 min/mile
Fastest pace: 4:59 min/mile
Elevation at highest point: 7,845 ft

Ben's splits for his long run in Kenya
It's not flat then...

But whilst those stats tell a story of running in a very different place, some things never change. Ben told me about catching another runner whilst out on that run who appeared to be labouring somewhat. As Ben passed him, the chap in question rushed back past Ben and shot off into the distance… until about eight miles later when Ben caught him again. This time when Ben went past there was no response! Sounds just like the people who hate to be passed on the canal towpath around Victoria Park in east London!

So we had covered training. And seeing as Ben was on Facebook, I think it is safe to assume that he was resting. So what about nutrition? How was Ben getting on with Ugali for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Well, who knows? He told me that he was having… wait for it… spaghetti bolognaise for dinner. What??? He did say though that he loves the chapatis that are served in Iten. At least that is authentic Kenyan cuisine!

Hopefully I will have the opportunity to catch up with Ben again and find out how he is getting on, but for now I think it is safe to say that he is in a great place to train well and come back in the best possible shape to make the Team GB selectors sit up and take notice. I hope you’ll all join me in wishing him luck.

The weather outside is frightful… so what?

Today London got what seems like its annual dump of snow. Quite a large amount of snow and certainly more than in previous years from what I can remember. And this year, in deference to all the rat-racers and school children, the snow had the good grace to come at the weekend. But for us marathoners, with 10 weeks until the London marathon or less for Brighton, every Sunday counts. So what should you do when you wake up to thick snow?

I got out early for my run this morning

Well rolling over and going back to sleep isn’t really an option I’m afraid. I am haunted by a passage in Charlie Spedding’s brilliant book From Last to First when he describes how he went to a multi-storey carpark to smash out his speed session because of thick snow everywhere else. That, for me, is the essence of ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. And I believe we should all be inspired by that level of dedication. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that Spedding was different to most people in his relentless pursuit of excellence, but we can all learn from his example.

So what to do when the snow comes?

There is always the option of the dreadmill. I am not a fan of pounding away on a moving walkway in a sweat-smelling gym, but if you must, it is better than nothing. But ideally you should get out.

Running on snow and ice.

Kit.

As with so much of running, there is a calculation to be made here. Going for a run is good. Going for a run, slipping over and bruising your coccyx or twisting your ankle and missing weeks of training is not good. This morning I went for a run on virgin snow which was loose and therefore tough to run on, but not icy or slippery. So do the calculation: check the conditions underfoot and adjust your plans. For this reason it is really worth thinking about footwear. Normal trainers can be OK although you’re likely to get wet feet, but again, check the conditions underfoot. I dug out my trail shoes – the excellent Brooks Trailblade – and they were ideal. Sure my feet still got soaked, but the Trailblades gave me the extra grip that I needed. I have also read about ‘ice grips’ which are worn over your running shoes and act like snow-chains for the feet. I’ve never tried them though so I can’t comment (if you have please leave a comment below!)

Clothing is less of a safety issue than footwear, but worth thinking about, especially if you are going long. The trick here, as with all cold-weather training, is to layer in a way that allows you to remove layers as you get hot or add layers if you get cold. Arm-warmers are a brilliant idea – I have two pairs: a thicker pair for really cold conditions and a thinner pair for the rest of the time. I wrote about the benefits of arm-warmers here. I also love my Innov8 Debrisock which, whilst not waterproof, will help keep snow from getting in the top of the shoe. There are other small waterproof or Goretex gaiters that you could consider. I consider a hat that wicks sweat and a pair of good running gloves essential.

Running.

I think that the things to remember when running on ice or snow are mainly common sense. It is more difficult to see undulations and obstacles when everything is white. Snow, especially as it starts to get trampled, becomes very uneven. Loose snow is much, much harder to run on than pavement or tarmac or even woodland trails. Packed snow is slippery. All of these factors lead me to the same bit of advice: take it easy and adapt a little. You will highly likely run a little slower on snow and ice than you would in normal conditions. That is OK, the effort levels are higher so you will still get a great training benefit. And you should also look around, enjoy the scenes. It isn’t often we get snow in London, so if you live in the capital, get away from all the black slush and head for the parks and open spaces and just enjoy it.

So there we go. By the time I have posted this the snow in London will be looking decidedly uninspiring. But this morning at 7am it was beautiful and I can tell you that my legs feel every one of the miles that I did today. So be sure to layer up, reach for your trail shoes and go out and enjoy yourself. It won’t be here for long!