6 Ways to Stay in Running Shape This Winter
You’ve spent all summer and into the fall getting yourself in tip-top running shape, and as any runner knows, there is a certain physical and mental high that comes with being in top shape. You’re full of momentum. You’re fully immersed in your running routine and have reached the pinnacle of strength and endurance. Then winter hits. It’s no secret that many runners go into hibernation over the cold winter months. Winter makes you want to snuggle in bed and drink warm things. Winter does not make you want to run. Even if winter is perceived as a runner’s nightmare, it isn’t. If anything it will challenge you to adapt and put your dedication and routine into action. As cold as it may be, there is nothing worse than getting out of shape and having to put in all the groundwork again in the spring.
Bundle up, bear down, and utilize these tips to keep you in running shape through the winter months.
1. Get the gear
One of the most common excuses for skipping a winter run is the weather. Check out this article on Men’s Fitness for winter running gear essentials, and embrace the challenge to dress warm enough to beat the cold. You’ll want to cover your skin from the wind and cold while staying dry with sweat-wicking layers to keep your muscles warm. Key winter running gear includes a dry base layer, warm hat, gloves, a mid layer for extra cold days, and a tightly woven or waterproof outer layer to combat snow and wind.
2. Commit to a race
Sometimes in the dead of winter you’ll need a little extra motivation. Before winter hits, sign up for a spring race that will challenge you to stay fit and hit the trail. If you know you have a half marathon or trail race in March, you’ll think twice about skipping a cold run.
3. Focus on time, not miles
Over the winter, when the trail conditions could be covered in snow or slick with ice, you won’t be able to keep up with your summer pace. During the winter it is smart to switch to a time-based running program, so that you run for a set amount of time rather than a set number of miles. Follow a winter training program like the ones Hal Higdon offers to stay in great winter shape and come out ready for an early spring race.
4. Work with the weather
You’ll need to make peace with the weather if you want to succeed at your winter running goals. Look at the week’s weather, and schedule your long runs accordingly. If a big storm is coming in on Saturday when you typically do your long run, switch the run to Friday. Be flexible, but stay with your training program.
5. Get a partner
Stick to Active.com’s advice, and get a running partner. You’ll want one when it’s below zero, your bed is cocooned around you, and you stayed up a little too late the night before. A running partner will help motivate you to get out of bed and will keep you at a steady, challenging pace.
6. Fuel up
It’s not uncommon for people to put on weight over the winter months. You’ll be attracted to warm, heavy, homey meals, and your daily activity may decline (even if you run). Make sure that you don’t fall victim to bad eating. You’ll need to fuel your daily runs with good nutrition and clean calories. Keep in mind that most runners burn between 80 and 120 calories a mile, so make sure to compensate for that with regular high-protein meals.