Many runners say they dread winter and that the coldest months of the year are usually when they run the least or – gasp! – hit the treadmill.
But don’t psych yourself out – psych yourself up! Winter running doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Mentally preparing for winter starts now, before the last leaves fall on the soon-to-be-frozen ground.
Follow these tips and who knows – you might actually be enthusiastic for that first sub-zero early morning run.
- Identify your weakness and find a secret weapon: Think back to last winter: What part of the cold, snow, or ice dissuaded you from getting out the door? Did your head always get cold? Were your fingers or toes constantly numb? Did your nether regions get chilled too easily? That’s your weakness. Now go out and buy your secret weapon. Do your research and figure out what winter apparel or gear will get you ahead of your misery. And look forward to tying out your new weapon.
- Set a new record: Last winter I kept track of how cold I could run in. Instead of looking at my coldest runs as a new depth of misery, I flipped it around and looked at each colder run as a new low temperature PR. My record last winter was 6 degrees Fahrenheit with a windchill of -15.
- Set parameters: Set parameters now about your winter running goals. This should include weekly distance goals and specifically, temperature and road condition limits. For example, you could say now you won’t run if the temperature is below 20 degrees. But when that first 21 degree day comes, you might not want to go for that run. Do it anyway and stick to the goals made when you had the comfort of autumn still around you.
- Come up with alternatives: Come up with your backup plan now, not when the really harsh weather comes. Is there a an (indoor) track you can run on? Have you tried snowshoe running? It’s hard but a great workout! Set a cross-training plan for days when the weather cancels your run.
- There’s strength in numbers: Even if you are a regular loner runner, sometimes you need a little group energy to get you through those bitterly cold runs. This can come in two forms. First, sign up for a race in winter. This will force you to the start line where, even if the weather is awful, you’ll have the support of people around you. Second, find a running partner or a group to run with. This gives the support of having others with you but also keeps you accountable.
What are your tips and tricks for staying motivated in the cold, dark, snowy winter?
Written by Rob Haneisen.