The first few weeks after you’ve made your New Year’s Resolution, you’re cruising on adrenaline and hope, waking up early for those workouts and feeling on top of the world. All the while it’s getting colder and colder outside. There’s enough January 1 magic in the air that you can ignore the frigid temps for a bit, but right about now is when resolve starts to wear off and we all realize it’s the dead of winter and our bodies want to be doing nothing but hibernating.
Don’t fret! The winter weather is working against you, but we’ve seen tons of people keep up their fitness routines through the winter and come out better for it on the other side! It’s not some mysterious formula or natural ability that only a few are blessed with. It all comes down to some simple, thoughtful strategies for fighting the winter blues and sticking with it. Take a look below for the tips we’ve learned along the way!
1. Get the Right Gear
You know that feeling when you’re commuting to work and you realize you forgot your gloves or should have worn your heavy coat? It’s wayyyy worse when you haven’t prepared properly for a workout that’s going to keep you outside for 30 minutes or more. Don’t try to be a hero here and think your regular old gear will do. Take the time to shop for and invest in athletic apparel that has the words like cold, winter, gear, and tundra in the description. Extra thick fabrics that wick away your sweat so that it doesn’t cool your skin off are ideal here. Don’t forget your extremities either: knit gloves, a hat/headband that covers your ears, and—in some extra cases—a neck/face warmer will work wonders. Caleb has got some great tips on that here.
2. Find the Warmest Time of Day
While winter feels like eternal darkness, work to find those slots in day where the sun is at its highest and you can benefit from the extra few degrees it offers. This is typically around middle of day, so if your job affords any flexibility at all, try to schedule a lunch run in. You may have to get in a bit earlier and stay later, but that sunny run will be well worth it! Just be sure to have a route mapped out ahead of time, your toiletries, and access to a shower. On the weekends, plan your day around getting out for a sunny run and invite friends along to join you.
3. Use the Treadmill—It’s OK!
People that say running on the treadmill isn’t really running? We’re here to tell you they’re dirty, filthy liars. Are your two legs moving fast and is your heart rate up? That’s called running. Better yet, treadmills are said to be gentler on your legs, reducing the chances of injuries like shin splints, which are very common amongst us beginner runners. The treadmill also gives you great control over how fast you’re going, so be sure to play with the speed setting and do some quicker intervals! It’s a great way to mix up an otherwise monotonous workout.
4. Focus on Cross Training
Make the most of being indoors by trying some other fun cross training machines at the gym, like the rowing machine, stairmaster, elliptical, and bike. These will all work different muscle groups that can ultimately make you a better runner. Not a member of a gym or is it so cold that you literally don’t want to even trek to the gym? Do your own strength workout with bodyweight exercises or even a light set of free weights. Go fast and take minimal breaks in between sets to keep your heart rate up. Bonus: you can even put on your favorite TV show, so now working out doesn’t have to get in the way of your Netflix marathon, and vice versa.
5 .Set Yourself up with Rewards
Many runners say that the feeling they get from running is a big enough reward for doing the workout, but in harsh weather you may have to kick things up a notch. If your brain is realllly resisting the idea of heading out in the cold, promise yourself some sort of treat as soon as you get back in. These can be simple delights: an episode of your favorite guilty pleasure TV show, a manicure, a cup of your favorite tea or hot chocolate, a beer (hey, it’s good for recovery!). Just be sure to use Lose It! and connect it with RunKeeper to track the calories for all those food or beverage rewards and make sure you’re not negating the benefits of your workout.
6. Get Your Brag On
Imagine this conversation:
- You: What’d you do this weekend?
- Friend: Oh, watched TV and ate brunch. You?
- You: Oh I ran for an hour when it was 7 degrees outside.
Friends will think you are a badass for withstanding the tough temperatures and you should revel in it! Don’t be annoying or obnoxious, but an artful picture of your snow-soaked shoes and your RunKeeper stats posted on Facebook can work wonders. Admit it—well-timed praise is verrrry motivating when it comes to keeping up a fitness routine.
That’s all from us. Hopefully there’s something in there for all of you to latch onto and keep pushing this winter! Just imagine how by the time that gorgeous, mild spring weather rolls around!
Tell us: which strategies have kept you pushing through the winter?