“Fun” winter workouts from Mile2Marathon’s Rob Watson

Because running in the winter sucks!

December 7th, 2016 by | Posted in CRM Training Plans, Expert Tips, Running Training Plans, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Vancouver’s Mile2Marathon is a coaching service and training community started by Olympian Dylan Wykes and assisted by Canada’s favourite marathoner, Rob Watson. Watson, who was born and raised on the mean streets of London, Ont. knows just how horrible winter training in Canada can be, so offered these three workouts to help get you through the season.

RELATED: Rob Watson talks coaching, goals and redefining his running

Track fartlek 200’s: This one is nice because it is over in a jiffy, it gives you a good burn and it works that ever so often neglected winter speed.

If you have access to a track, go there and do 5K total alternating between 200m fast and 200m easy. The workout is continuous (i.e. no stopping) and make sure that there is an obvious and snappy gear change between the fast and easy segments. This is not a tempo run; it’s an interval session. Also make sure that you warm-up adequately before starting because running fast with cold muscles is stupid. Also cool down afterwards. Cooling down is cool (and good for you).

Get after this session and at the end see how long it took you to cover the 5K. Do it three-to-four weeks later and see how your training has progressed. Don’t be afraid to be competitive with yourself.

If you don’t have access to a track, you can also do this by running 20 minutes alternating between 1 minute “on/hard” and 1 minute “off/easy” with a goal of going as far as you can (without pushing yourself during the off segments). Again, do this every three-to-four weeks to gauge your progress.


Segment Hunting: Have a little fun with technology. Get on the Strava (Garmin Connect also has them) and check out your local routes for some juicy segments. Plan a route accordingly then chase some segment PBs (or CRs if you can). This workout will take the form of a fartlek run, so again there’s no stopping. Stopping in the winter sucks because you get cold so just run/jog easy between segments.

Segments come in all different distances and with changing elevations. Some are 100m long while others can be a couple K. Segment hunting adds some nice variety and stimulation to otherwise cold, boring runs. And if you don’t have any segments around–or aren’t on Strava/Garmin–you can always go make your own and see how fast you can run a random and otherwise arbitrary section of your route.

Build the Callous: This one is not supposed to be fun (although it can be) but is rather meant as a big ‘eff you’ to winter. Use the cold and unkind conditions to your advantage and build some mental toughness by simply going for a long-ass run.

Running in nice weather is easy, enjoyable even. Go for a run on that shitty day and accept the fact that it is going to be miserable. Why? Because finishing a two hour run in minus eight (or eighteen) degree weather makes you feel like a bad-ass and re-affirms just how much you really want it. Because at some point during your spring races you are going to hit bad patches. You are going to hate life and want to quit. But when this happens, you can think back to those super cold and snowy runs you went on, consider how much they sucked and all the hard work you have put in to get there. 

RELATED: Rob Watson’s signature marathon workout