Winter can be a challenging time for runners, myself included. Fall is my favorite season for outdoor training, so when the days turn chillier and dark afternoons become the norm, I need extra motivation to keep running until spring. I have three tips to share that will help you prepare to run during the busy holiday season and the winter months to come.
Be Prepared for Outdoor Running
I have some favorite gear that keeps me running outdoors (as long as sidewalks are still clear of ice and the temperature is at least 20 degrees). Having warm winter gear that isn’t too bulky is essential.
Stay warm with:
- A running scarf. A good running scarf is lightweight, but it still covers your neck all the way around.
- Touch gloves. These gloves are extremely functional, allowing you to adjust your iPod as needed without exposing your hands to the cold air.
- Athletic wool socks. Wool is a great way to stay warm, but usually wool socks are bulky and loose. These athletic socks will keep you warm but are sleek enough for your foot to fit into your shoe.
- A headband. A good headband gives your ears full coverage without overheating your head on those long runs, like a hat might do.
- Fleece-lined running tights. This may be the most important piece of winter gear. The fleece will keep your legs from freezing, but the tight fit makes it easy to move your legs without the risk of tripping on the bottoms of your sweatpants.
- A thin down vest. A vest is a great piece of winter gear because of its flexibility. It’ll keep your core warm no matter the temperature, but when it starts to warm up near springtime, you can wear light layers underneath.
Learn to Love the Treadmill.
I’m an outdoor runner through and through, but on dark evenings and snowy days, you will find me indoors on a treadmill. It’s not my preferred way to get miles in, but I have easy treadmill access at my workplace gym and I keep things interesting by creating new treadmill workouts every week.
My current favorite treadmill workout:
- Warm-up by walking for two minutes at 3.1 miles per hour.
- Run at a comfortable (slower) speed and increase by 0.1 mph every half mile.
- Take a one-minute walking break every 2 miles if you need it.
I usually start this treadmill run at 5.7 mph and aim to finish after reaching 4 miles. If you get bored easily, change the speed every quarter mile instead of at the half-mile mark. Switching the speed of the treadmill at various intervals makes the miles fly by. I also entertain myself by listening to happy tunes and interesting podcasts.
Participate in a Challenge.
Last but not least, participate in a running challenge to stay motivated. Logging workouts and staying accountable is the best motivator for me during this time of year.
This year, I’m a team captain for the Nike+ Chiberia Challenge, which starts Dec. 8. For this challenge, five teams of 15 runners compete in a 70-mile run over 13 days. The team whose runners log 70 miles in the shortest amount of time wins prizes.
Winter running challenge or races are great ways to keep yourself motivated. It’s much easier to run outside in 20-degree weather with snow on the ground if you’re doing it with someone else and there’s a clear finish line, so advantage of these opportunities.