By Mamma Maren
Dinner weighs heavily in my stomach. My body is worn out. The house is warm and welcoming. It’s quiet – the kids are asleep. My husband’s pottering around in the kitchen and Netflix is offering me a trip to Istanbul with Carrie Mathison or New York where there are tailored men in Suits well worth looking at. I unhook my bra feeling my age and throw it in a corner. My tight support hose that’s kept my stomach in place all day ends up in the same corner. Grab a blanket and wrap myself up on the sofa. Expectations rise and outside it’s cold – I can feel the draft coming through the 100 year-old windows in our apartment. The candles flicker and I pull the blanket up around my chin as I stare at the TV where those suited New Yorkers await.
Suddenly, my husband comes in from the kitchen. I smile ingratiatingly as I know that I left the washing up for him. He’s surprised to see me on the sofa and asks: “Aren’t you running this evening?”.
Damn. He’s right, I should be.
Right there, at that moment, I have no idea why I run. Motivation turns to irritation. The trek to the door feels like the toughest marathon and I can’t imagine how I will find the strength to get off the sofa. It’s nice and warm under the blanket and those guys in suits are smiling at me from the box. We are pleased to see each other and it’s dark, cold and lonely outside. I pull the blanket over my head and take a deep breath. Not one single iota of my being wants to get up.
I deploy my most effective mental weapon: visualising. I visualise the Copenhagen Half 2016, where I am running around the streets of the city in a festival atmosphere with lots of clapping spectators. I run with a steely gaze, like someone who has trained all year round. We are a band and part of a larger whole. We have the same mission. 21 km and a bit. My pace is 04:55. I’ve packed my boobs into a sports bra and look strong and trim. I know that my husband and my three boys are waiting expectantly, ready with their bells and flags another 2 km further on. I run and absorb every impression and as I round the last bend, can see the finish line just ahead. The final straight is packed with people clapping and cheering me on. I can feel the lump in my throat and tears brim in my eyes. I overtake the girl I’ve followed for the last couple of km and cross the line, stop my stopwatch, stick my arms in the air and hug a complete stranger. I did it! And then I start to cry.
Right there, at that moment, is when I remember why I run. I know that it’s only possible if I get my arse of the sofa, drop the blanket, blow a kiss to the suits (and my husband) and get out there whatever the weather.
Winter training is a challenge for many runners – including me. Your body wants to be warm and cosy, fed with biscuits and hot cocoa with lashings of whipped cream. Your head does not agree. It wants fresh air, to send endorphins racing around that lazy old body, the feeling of overcoming a challenge and the pleasure of running.
I’m ready, standing outside the front door and feeling the cold bite my cheeks. It’s dark and I’m alone. I switch on my light, my e-book and start my stopwatch with built-in SatNav.
I take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other and lean forward until the next foot saves me from falling.
I smile – I run.
The countdown to the Copenhagen Half 2016 has started!
Jacket and vest from SaySky
During the winter, the external things become more important to me. In the spring and summer, it’s all relatively easy, but in the winter I need to change my mindset and the things I can physically do something about.
I find it much easier to get out of the door if I have someone waiting for me. I take advantage of Sparta’s open training sessions and meet up with my running buddies. I am glad I have a network on the social media where friends are really good at commenting on my photos and leaving encouraging postings. I also find it inspiring to see how other runners train and develop. I’ve gained a number of new running and training buddies that way.
I often change into my running clothes as soon as I get home from work, even if it may be several hours before I actually get out. It seems stupid to take them off once they are on! The cold winter months demand special clothing. I often run with three layers: ski underwear (tight fitting and preferably containing wool), a sweat-transporting running shirt and a windproof jacket on top to avoid the wind whipping away my body’s warmth. A vest can also be used.
On my head goes a hat or headband, and I put on gloves. If there is snow on the ground, I run in my trail shoes. The rugged soles give better grip. If it’s icy, I put spikes on the front part of my running shoes. Remember reflectors and a head lamp if running after dark and you can’t always see where you are treading.
Woollen running socks are recommended on cold days.
Read Marathon Sport’s guide to winter training here.
This article was written in consultation with Marathon Sport