Winter Running Training Tips
As a runner and triathlete for over 28 years, I’m a big advocate of cross training; it’s fun to throw new things into workouts to keep them fresh. Winter is the perfect opportunity to do this. Consider adding snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, elliptical, indoor cycling, yoga, swimming, and indoor surfing to your routine.
Outdoor Running Tips & Gear
While it’s fun to add new things; it’s important to include key workouts to maintain sport-specific fitness. Running is probably one of the most important activities and can be utilized in nearly every sport. Personally, I prefer to run outside—even in the winter—because I love the outdoors and running on a treadmill utilizes muscles differently than outdoor running. I believe that if you want to do well in races you must mimic the conditions you’ll face, so outdoor running is best. However, there are several barriers when it comes to running outside in winter.
You’re likely to find icy conditions, and to prevent falling you must change your form. Try to land more flat-footed and minimize your calf push-off. This gives you more surface contact, and while it might slow you down it keeps you from slipping. If you run in the road, face oncoming traffic and be mindful not to impede drivers.
When dressing for winter runs, choose a pair of tights, a double layer on top with a hat/ear warmers, and gloves. If it’s below 30 degrees, add a light jacket on top. For deep snow runs, wear gators to keep snow out of your shoes. Try trail running shoes in the winter as they’re less breathable and provide better traction. Wearing reflective gear is also smart with the reduced daylight in cold-weather months.
Some people, especially moms of young children, are often confined to running on a treadmill at home or in the gym; others just prefer running indoors because of the weather or inversion. If you choose a treadmill workout, explore the interval feature at least once a week to improve your speed in races. Be sure to also do a pace workout like a tempo or steady-state run weekly. Treadmills are great for this because they give you constant feedback. It may be boring and difficult to get that long run in on the treadmill, so consider splitting it up and doing the first part on the treadmill then heading outdoors and finishing up your run that way.
While the temperature change may feel great at first, realize it can dissipate your heat quickly leaving you chilled, so dress in layers to allow for adjustments as needed. Also, be careful when you start to run outdoors regularly after putting a lot of miles in on a treadmill over the winter. Running outdoors is generally harder on your body than using a treadmill so reduce your overall mileage by 10–15% the first 2–3 weeks to allow your body to adapt since treadmills cushion more than unforgiving asphalt or concrete.
Maintain Your Motivation
This can be a challenge in winter, but one of the best ways to stay motivated is to have units of measure that show you are making progress. For example, do a timed mile every week and try to improve it. Or do as many push-ups as you can in a minute and test yourself weekly. Also, keep in mind that “summer bodies are earned in the winter.” It takes work and consistent effort to make progress. Decide in your mind that exercise and eating right will be a part of your day once and for all instead of debating it with yourself daily. This way you’ll spend time figuring out what works best for your schedule instead of “IF” you are going to exercise. A little time spent outdoors or at the gym now can mean more healthy time with your family in the future.
Training with others and hiring a coach keeps you accountable and is a great way to make measurable progress. As a USATF-certified running and triathlon coach for over 18 years, I’ve seen huge improvement with my athletes that would otherwise struggle to go it alone. With coaching help they were able to exceed their goals and reach new levels of success and achievement. As I always like to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
Becoming informed is more than just reading books and searching the Internet. You can’t replace experience and in-person support. A coach can open your eyes to new ways of training and push you to your own true potential. You don’t have to be an advanced athlete to hire a coach; many “average non-athletes” have become elite athletes because of coaching help. Come join one of my classes or coach team training programs and get the information and training you need to excel.
Goal-setting and Motivational Tools
By Jenny Willden
Constantly checking your watch to see if you’re on race pace can be a hassle—and add to your finish time. These reusable wristbands take the guesswork out of racing by providing tailored pace data to help you run right for everything from 5Ks to marathons. $9 pacebands.3dcartstores.com
I ♥ to Run Calendar
Chart your progress visually with this wall calendar paired with a fat red marker for checking off every day you workout or run throughout the year. The constant reminder of your daily action will keep you on track to achieve your fitness goals. $19 ilovetorun.org
Upgrading to the MVP subscription for this popular free app is so worth it! MVPs unlock detailed heart rate analytics, customizable coaching plans, route recommenders, live runner tracking, and custom splits. Most features are found on the app and website, but some are available in just one platform, so try out both. The improved app design interfaces seamlessly with playlists and provides valuable statistics at a glance. Plus, there’s a new graph that overlays pace with elevation to give you a better perspective of your abilities. Track runs within a training plan to receive solid guidance for nabbing your next PR. $6 for one month, $30 for one year mvp.mapmyrun.com