With the start of December, winter running has commenced. The next few months bring snow, ice, wind, and cold temperatures – all the conditions that make running difficult and sometimes downright unpleasant. But winter doesn’t need to derail your training or mean long weeks with very little running. This one-stop guide to winter running will help you stay motivated, prepare for the conditions, and maximize your running this winter.
Now, before you dismiss me because I live in Seattle, I do have some experience in winter running. I am Midwest born and raised, so I dealt with plenty of snow, ice, wind, cold, and treadmill runs for several years of running. But don’t worry, my fellow PNW readers – I have some winter running (aka cold and rainy) tips for you as well.
Training Purpose Provides Motivation
Winter running presents many challenges, including to your motivation. Who really wants to run when it’s 20 degrees outside or there’s a couple feet of snow on the ground? However, having a concrete reason to get out and run makes all the layers and the frozen eyelashes worth the effort. Even if you aren’t training for a spring race, maintaining a strong base during the winter months will set you up for success in your goals for the remainder of the year. Try these tips to help you optimize your base building this winter.
Even if you aren’t focused on short-term or long-term running goals, running offers numerous benefits in winter, from reducing holiday weight gain to alleviating the winter blues. Fresh air and exercise work wonders!
If you need extra motivation to go out and run, check out these tips to stay motivated in your running this winter.
Invest in Cold Weather Running Gear
If you plan on running outside this winter, you want to make sure your running gear will protect you from the cold. Buffs, mittens, vests, and fleeced leggings are some of the best items for winter running – for more ideas of essential winter gear, check out this post featuring six running bloggers’ essential pieces of winter running gear.
As for shoes, you can either add YakTraks or a similar type of strap-on lugs to your shoes for traction or wear trail running shoes. Trail running shoes do not handle deep snow or ice as well as lugs, but they transition comfortably from cleaned pavement to snowy areas, which you may encounter during the course of a single run. When we went running in the snow in Bend, Oregon, my Saucony Peregrines functioned well on snowy pavement and trails.
Prepare for the Elements
Beyond the snow, one of the most difficult conditions to deal with in winter is the wind. The wind makes running harder, especially when it makes you feel cold and raises your perceived effort. These tips will help you adapt your running for windy days any time of year, especially in winter.
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, winter brings so much rain that you begin to grow moss in your running shoes. These tips for running in the rain and this rainy run survival guide will help you stay as dry as possible on your runs.
If you are racing in cold weather, be sure to take special considerations. Aid stations may be slippery, you burn through carbs differently, and dressing for a hard effort in the cold can be tricky. Be sure to check out this post on racing in cold weather.
Embrace the Treadmill
I dislike the treadmill but during Northwest Indiana winters, it kept me running (and kept me sane). The ice, snow, and negative degree windchills were simply too much to justify running outside, at least for me. Even now, I need to use the treadmill sometimes in winter when all that rain freezes into ice overnight.
From treadmill workouts to managing marathon training on the treadmill, these posts will help you maximize your time stuck running indoors:
And if the treadmill isn’t your thing, try one of these six strength or plyometric based indoors workouts for runners or opt outside with one of these winter cross-training workouts for runners. Winter can be the perfect time to scale back running by reducing your number of runs and/or overall weekly mileage and focus on other areas of fitness, such as strength and mobility.
What tips do you have for winter running?
How do you stay motivated in your running during winter?