‘Tis the Season
It seems like around this time every year, I lose motivation to run, workout or even get off my couch. I think it has something to do with all the delicious holiday food putting me in a relaxed state of mind. It starts with Thanksgiving, and then works its way through Christmas cookies all the way up to the big Christmas dinner (which for me, has fluctuated between prime rib, steak or hamburgers). Maybe it’s the food, or maybe it’s the cold weather, but I just struggle to get out the door.
Since I ran my last half marathon on November 9th (39 days, but who’s counting?), I have run exactly five of them. I have done some cross training, mainly biking, on six other days, but still that, leaves me with 72% of the last month without any sort of exercise; and I’m starting to go crazy. Not crazy enough to go run 10 miles solo in the dark, frigid weather, where the footing is always questionable; but crazy enough thought that if I had someone to run with, I might just do it.
The thing that drove me to my sabbatical was a ligament injury in my left foot. I first noticed it in the days leading up to that final race on 11/9, but I ran through it anyway. After spending too much time on the Internet diagnosing myself (as a lot of us do), I of course assumed the worst. Now that I’ve actually had a professional look at it and tell me “there is no structural reason why you couldn’t run”, I really have no reason not to be doing the thing I love; except the weather.
I think winter running is one of the worst things, HOWEVER, it’s really just a matter of getting through these next couple months, because if you do, there are big dividends to be had in the spring months. A couple tips I have for running through winter:
1) Run with someone. Misery loves company, but two is also better than one. Having someone to run with regardless of the temperature, precipitation or distance can make all the difference. Find someone who is committed to getting out the door, or come to the group runs at the store where you can meet other committed individuals.
2) If at all possible, run in the daylight. On the weekends, this is easier, but during the week, consider running immediately after work or over the lunch hour. And of course invite a friend.
3) Layer. I’ve learned it’s not so much about the thickness of the clothing; it’s about the number of layers. I’ll admit there have been days where I had five layers on, and even have doubled up on gloves. For me, I always like to know that I could add an additional layer the next day if necessary. It’s probably a mental thing, but usually I don’t need as many layers as I think.
4) Sign up for some road races. I hear the Beresford Frostbite 4 is going to be good (more on that later). At the very least, getting into some winter races that are less than ideal racing conditions will at least get you out the door and the mileage you need.
5) Don’t be ashamed to take it inside. Although we’d all probably prefer to be outside than on a treadmill, running on a treadmill is better than not running at all. I’d recommend you have something to distract you (TV, podcast, music, etc.) and that you keep the mileage to a minimal, but there’s no reason you couldn’t throw in a treadmill run every now and then.
These are just five of the tips that I think will help me get out this winter, and it’s not an all-inclusive list either. Winter running, although not my favorite, really brings me back to the roots of why I run. If I can run in the winter, I can run wherever I want, whenever I want to, regardless of weather.