We’ve cranked the thermostat up, put on all sorts of extra layers, and swapped our athletic shorts for fleece-lined tights. Buckle up, my dear runner friends, it’s going to be a long, slippery ride. But as many of us breathe that collective sigh of utter disdain for cold and snowy weather plodding, I implore you to approach your training with new vigor this year.
Run by month, not by week
Where we live, we might have an awesome week of warmish (30 degrees F+), dry weather followed by a frigid blizzard. Without a gym membership or treadmill at home, there are some weeks when I get in 0.0 miles on the roads. It just happens. I started looking at my monthly mileage as a whole versus feeling down about those times when shoveling my sidewalk counted as hours of cross-training. On good weeks, I’d try to run a little more. On bad weeks, this approach would help me relax and enjoy my indoor body weight routine.
Run for time, not for distance
Along this same vein, you can certainly run outdoors to your heart’s content. You might find in some weather, though, your pace suffers greatly. You may have heard this advice before, but I’m going to repeat it: try leaving the watch at home. Or at very least, give yourself a break on how “off” you might be from your normal paces. If it’s a good weather day, go for speed and run for 30, 60, 90 minutes and beyond. If it’s iffy or dark, just go for the duration and experience of it all. Miles are miles, but time on your feet is just as important.
We have a whole series on cross-training activities for eager walkers and runners. Thing is, I know how hard it can be to switch mindset from running goals to general fitness upkeep. Over the years, I have begun to treasure the time I spend doing different activities that give my legs and break and challenge my other muscles in new ways. If it helps at all, I’ve never come off a winter season slower or less a runner than the year before. If anything, my countless miles in the pool and indoor cycling sessions have made me stronger and faster.
Race for fun and friends
I occasionally PR at winter races. We have this 10K series that hits once a week in January, and one year the weather was 60 degrees for the first, -10 for the second, completely snow-covered for the third, and then canceled in an ice storm for the fourth. Still, I showed up at the start just to get out there, breathe the fresh air, and see my running buddies. Make a goal to run at least one winter race for the fun of it, and I promise you won’t regret it and it will keep your motivation stoked on even the coldest of days.
How do you approach training in the winter months?