Running column: Beating the mid-winter training blues can be a tricky battle, says running columnist Mark Armstrong

Getting that training run in at this time of year can feel that much harder. Picture: Supplied

Getting that training run in at this time of year can feel that much harder. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

Running columnist Mark Armstrong explains how he's trying not to let winter get him down...

Let's be honest – this time of year isn't great if you're a runner.

It feels like it's always dark, you start getting calorific Christmas food in the house (that tastes amazing) and there's always something on the television (a guilty pleasure of mine is watching I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here).

There are just so many reasons not to go for that run.

Bearing in mind how much a lot of us love running, isn't it odd how far the mind goes to dissuade you from hitting the road?

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There's a temptation to put all your training on hold until after Christmas – embrace the festive season with the thinking that you'll get into a decent running regime in the new year.

I was almost getting lulled into this when I saw someone post at the weekend that it is only 12 weeks until the Cambridge Half Marathon and it jolted me into action.

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I emailed Neil Featherby and said I needed his help with a training programme.

MORE: The story behind Mark Armstrong's marathon in NottinghamIf I left it until after Christmas it would leave too much to do to get in the shape required to run under the 1:45 target I've set in the spring.

I need to get a good training block in and leave enough time for a decent taper – something I didn't allow for this year as I was always playing catch-up thanks to several niggling injuries.

If I've got Neil's programme in mind, and the structure it provides me, there's a chance I won't inhale six biscuits (M&S ones as well…no rubbish) when I get home from work… although I'm not saying it still can't happen (I've told my wife we need to rid our house of sweet things).

So I've been back on it this week – I've done a few runs and even got out to Drayton with Neil's running group to get in a speed session.

But with there being so few daylight hours I do still find it hard to fit in my runs around everyday life. Any sort of fitness regime I've had in the past has been built around routine and I think I'm going to struggle to find that during this training block.

Does it really matter though? As long as you get the training in your legs then it probably doesn't.

I read Jo Pavey's autobiography recently and the biggest thing I took away was the way she juggled family life with the demands of being a world class elite.

MORE: Getting your race schedule organised is a form of artEssentially she doesn't beat herself up if she misses a session in the morning if she needs to be there for her children. She will just try and make time later in the day.

Needless to say I'm not quite at the level of Pavey(!)… but her flexible approach to training resonated with me bearing in mind most of my mornings involve negotiating with a three-year-old whether she's going to wear a short or long-sleeved T-shirt to nursery...

I would always prefer to get my training done in the morning – it sets me up for the day and as corny as it may sound I feel an inner calmness after I've exercised.

But it's not always possible and I've been getting out on a few evening runs recently. This involves barely letting my feet touch the floor when I get in from work, throwing my kit on as quickly as I can and getting out there. If I linger too long the temptation to just sit on the couch is too much!

So whilst winter isn't my favourite time of year to train, I'm trying to make the best of it to set up achieving the goals I've set in 2018.

Now all I've got to do is figure out how I'm going to explain to the rest of the sports desk that I watch I'm a Celebrity… (Toff to win btw…)

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