As the mercury begins to plummet and the days grow shorter, you may be thinking it’s time to pack away those running shoes for the winter or retreat into the gym. I’d encourage you to stop and reconsider running through the winter.
I picked up running 10 years ago this fall, but it wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I finally made the decision to run through the winter. That decision has had a huge impact on my running. As we head into the cold season, here are a few reasons why you should do this too and some tips for getting out there in those frigid, dark hours.
- Running through the winter will keep you from loosing all that hard work you put in during the warmer months. There’s more to it than that though. By not resting on your laurels through the winter, you’re poised to kick your running up a notch when the weather warms up again. It’s like having a jump start on the next season.
Winter holds its own unique beauty. On a frigid morning or when a fresh blanket of snow is falling to the ground, there’s a calm in the air you won’t experience during any other part of the year. It’s like a hush settles over the entire landscape and you can relish in the peace and solitude. I love those moments on a snowy winter morning, before the plow trucks come through, when I can make my own path through the fresh snow on a vacant street.
- And possibly the best reason for running in the winter: it’s hardcore. I mean, seriously, how many other people do you see out there when it’s this cold?
Once you’ve made the decision to run through the winter (which I’m sure you will because you want to be hardcore), here are some things I’ve found helpful in getting myself out the door:
- Buy the right gear and wear layers. My decision to run through the winter coincided with finally having the proper equipment for it. Tights and compression shirts are my indispensable base layers. Add additional layers on top of those, and don’t forget a wind breaker. I finally got a baklava last season and it makes all the difference on those days when it’s below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, a headlamp is indispensable, especially if you want to hit the trails or don’t want to get hit while running on twisty-turny, unlit roads.
- Make the commitment to going out and don’t be wishy-washy about it. Deciding ahead of time and making a plan will make it much easier when push comes to shoving you out the door.
- If running in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before. This will speed you out the door in the morning (let’s face it, it takes longer to get ready to run in the winter) and adds a level of commitment to your decision to get out of bed at 5 a.m. when it’s 0 degrees out.
- Run in the middle of the day, when it’s warmest. This is also good because it gives you sun exposure during a season when there isn’t much of it.
- Set goals. Whether its a weekly mileage goal or a spring race, this will help keep your motivation up and your training on track.
- And finally, if you must, run indoors. Try getting creative with this one. If you have a treadmill, don’t just settle for your same old treadmill pace. Mix it up with hills and tempo running. The mill is boring, but if you challenge yourself, it will make the time pass more quickly. My personal favorite is setting the machine to its steepest incline and going as fast as possible, as long as possible. Another indoor option if you have a tall tower near you: ask if you can use the stairwell to do stair repeats. This will keep you indoors, off the treadmill and give you an insane workout.
Alright, now get out there, get running and stay warm!
Have your own tips for winter running? Have questions about running in the cold? I’d love to hear them and answer what I can. Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter – @outdoorsnh