Steph Davis

Five Ways To Improve Over Winter

For most triathletes and runners, the winter season is typically a time for rest, recovery and rebuilding ahead of focusing on next year’s goals. Here’s five simple ways to make the most of the winter months to help improve your running.  


There is no problem with hitting the treadmill, but the truth is that most industrial treadmills are spring loaded which reduces the ground reaction force and makes running a bit easier. One thing that treadmills are great for though, due to this, is improving range of motion or stride mobility. Focus on a good warm up and then use the treadmill for interval strides and tempo sets. For example, think about doing one-mile intervals, or a simple 5km tempo set. You’ll be preparing muscle groups like your hip flexors to work outside their arch of efficiency. This should translate to better road speed when you’re training on the firmer ground. 


Use the winter months to help build strength. It’s best if the movements used can be compound based – exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together. Think deadlifts, cleans, and lunges. Alternating a heavy session with less reps and a power-based session with a speed focused set with slightly less weight is a great way to develop and improve strength over the winter. Strength training is important all year round, but dropping reps and increasing weight will help build power, whereas during race season you might want to focus more on reactive speed and plyometric power. 


One of the main reasons winter can be tough is because the weather is really not very helpful. Trying to convince yourself to get out the door is actually a major factor in developing a good training block. Mentally recognising that you only have to get moving for a mid distances run will help you overcome some of these mental obstacles. Progressive runs are perfect for the winter. Build on the pace each km/mile, these sessions take into account the low motivation factor but then ramp it up gradually once you get going. We’re all more likely to start slow and build into run in the winter.


An advantage of training at higher intensity will mean that your training load will be lower, you’re doing fewer miles each week. In turn, this will be reflected in the amount of carbohydrate that you metabolise over the course of a training week. Training at a higher intensity means that you’ll be fuelling from your glycogen stores more often that you would when you do LISS (low intensity steady state) training. Ensure you fuel appropriately by using carbohydrate-dense fuel pre training to maintain a high glycogen storage in your liver and muscles and keep your protein intake high post-training to accommodate the strength and intensity. 

Our GO Isotonic Energy Gels are a classic when requiring a carbohydrate boost mid-session, with our BETA Fuel Range providing a higher-carb option if needs be. Protein-wise, the REGO Rapid Recovery Powder delivers 20g of protein in a tasty recovery shake to aid muscle growth and repair post-exercise. 


Cross country running combines various fitness components and throws them into a practical race setting. It involves intense racing efforts over diverse and varied terrains, requiring a combination of both speed and endurance. This is where your shorter hard tempo sessions and your power sessions show dividends and ultimately come together in an applied race environment.

Written by Max Willcocks

Written By
Science in Sport Contributer
Science in Sport Contributer
Our wider network of athletes, scientists and sports journalists who are hand-picked to share their expertise and experiences with the Science in Sport Community.