Have you noticed that new chill in the morning air? Winter is coming, like it or not, and that means we’re heading into the most difficult time to motivate yourself to run. If you don’t want to lose all the progress you’ve made training this summer, now is the time to start preparing!
Make it a Date
If you know you’re susceptible to crawling back into bed instead of reaching for your running shoes when you see the thermostat in the mornings, team up with a friend and promise to motivate each other and hold each other accountable. Create a standing commitment to run together and get started now so that you’ll already be in the habit by the time it gets cold. No cheating! When someone else is counting on you, you’ll really have to show.
As the sun sets earlier, chances are you’ll be running in the dark. Don’t be shy about gearing up in florescent, reflective fabric, headlamps, and blinking LED straps for your ankles and arms. Better to look like a fast-moving christmas tree than be hit by a car or spend months recovering when you roll your ankle in a hidden pothole!
If you live somewhere where the cold is intense, you’ll need to take special care of your body as well. Protect your exposed skin from the wind chill and be extra vigilant against frostbite by covering your cheeks and face. Try BodyGlide or a specialized product like Kiehl’s Non-Freeze Face Protector or, for a budget DIY option you can alway use vaseline (although this can get a bit messy).
Don’t be fooled by the temperature — you’re still sweating under your moisture wicking shirt and losing water rapidly. No matter how unnecessary it feels, make sure you are still hydrating like it’s summer.
Don’t make the mistake of piling on the layers before you even get moving. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer than it is. You’ll be glad of the chilly start once you start working up a sweat!
Ease in my warming up inside before you head out — your warm up routine should be considerably longer in the winter months to get your blood flowing and your joints limber. Do some jumping jacks and run up and down the stairs, or take the opportunity to get ahead with a high energy house cleaning! The cold won’t feel so biting when you’re already warm.
Know Where to Go
Here’s a tip that has served me well: Colleges and universities are usually the quickest to clear their paths and roads after a heavy snowfall. They have their own maintenance crews that aren’t tied to the city schedule and they’ll often work through the night to keep paths safe for students. Plus, there’ll be less traffic and some charming scenery. If you can identify where they are, you can also count on the access roads that your city’s snow vehicles take on their way to work to be plowed first.
Skipping a day when the weather is dreary can lead to a slippery slope, but do keep it in perspective. It’s always better to miss a day than to be laid up for months with an injury after you slip on black ice. Waiting one day won’t derail your training, but pushing yourself too far can ruin an entire season.
Even winter running should be about fun! The sharp, fresh air, the invigorating jump-start that gets your heart racing — don’t lose sight of what you love, and your winter will be a breeze.