Winter is here, but your training doesn’t have to take a break just because the weather has gotten colder and snow is on the ground. Inside or outside, here’s how to keep running during the winter.
When the weather turns for the worse, you can continue to run in cold wind, freezing temperatures, and snow, or go inside on the treadmill for three months. There is no wrong decision; it all depends on the individual runner and what best suits his or her needs.
I’m the type of guy who not only braves the cold months but finds a way to enjoy them. There’s something serene about light snow falling, heat rolling off your shoulders and head, and a warm shower beckoning at home.
Some runners are more tolerant of extreme temperatures, and the weather barely affects their training. Sure, freezing temps reduce your speed by 15-30 seconds per mile, but you make adjustments just as with summer heat.
If you prefer outdoor running, make sure you have the appropriate gear: layers, lights, reflective clothing, etc. Know which routes are safest, (maintained by plows and less traveled, for instance) so you can plan your runs without any fears.
Typically, the worst time to run is the day after a large snowstorm when there are no shoulders on the roads, large chunks of snow and salt in the street, and ice everywhere. On those days, I get my run in on a treadmill because I know one bad ankle sprain or fall could ruin my training for a month.
You can use winter to focus on all the other stuff needed to run well: upper- and lower-body strengthening exercises, core work, stretching, and cross-training. With fewer races in the winter and early spring, we can spend more time getting our bodies ready (stronger, more flexible) for a spring marathon or summer 5Ks.
For those of you who don’t like to run when it is below 50 degrees, go ahead and get your training in on a treadmill. You won’t be at an increased injury risk versus the road as long as you stay relaxed and try to normalize your stride. Some prefer tempo runs and Fartlek workouts on the treadmill to battling drivers and/or snow chunks in barely visible conditions outside.
If you prefer treadmill running, vary your runs from day to day to keep you from getting bored. Some days, do flat, fast runs. Other days, do a hill workout or Fartlek/tempo runs.
And if the weather cooperates, get crazy and run a few miles outside before finishing on the treadmill at race pace.
Keep running. Warmer weather is coming.