Training Through the Cold of WinterI have a confession to make. I have not been very motivated to run this winter. I've been feeling the combination of short days, frigid temps, my body's natural tendency to pack on the pounds and hibernate this time of year. Add to that a dose of mental burnout after a big summer of racing plus chronic sleep deprivation as a mom of two young kids and staying by the fire with a cup of tea has been sounding very appealing lately. Anyone with me?
Here's the thing though, I'm sure I'm also not alone in my desire to jump back into some fast racing when spring comes around and I have spent enough years running and coaching to know that we all run faster, better, and have more fun doing it when we've put in consistent training! In past winters, I've relied on the solidarity of reliable training buddies to get me out the door, a coach telling me what to do and keeping me accountable, or the simple fixation on a dream goal off on the horizon. This winter, my bag of tricks has required a little expansion. Here are my current top 5 strategies for making it to spring with some semblance of fitness:
- Sign Up – Register for VCM and tell your friends! This has been the season for me to simply sign up without thinking too much and then find a way to make it happen. Research shows that people are more likely to commit when they have some social expectation and money on the line. I've actually been trying to find a race or two to enter each month as I've found these lead-up races helpful both as a training stimulus and a way to rekindle my motivational fire.
- Fresh Air – Get outside everyday and breath in the fresh air. Soak in how good (crispy) that feels. Revel in the peacefulness of fresh snow, the warrior feeling of being out in the elements, and the hormonal boost from the contrast of moving my body outside after hours of sitting inside. I never regret it once I throw myself out the door.
- Dress for Success – I have found I can train in pretty much any weather if I am wearing appropriate clothing. A breathable base layer + insulating mid-layer + outer wind/wetness blocking layer = a good formula for winter apparel. In extreme cold, Vaseline or even duct tape on exposed skin will prevent frostbite. In icy conditions, spike shoes of any variety combined with an increased awareness of my center of gravity keeps me upright.
- Indoor Options – Sometimes I just need to give myself a break from the cold and exercise in a warmer climate. I often can combine this with activities my kids like doing. This winter we've enjoyed a lot of swimming, yoga, and even some rock climbing.
- Kitchen Sink – Just keep trying new things until spring. After trying everything but the kitchen sink (all of the above, plus two indoor track 1 mile races and a Classic Ski 50k) I decided why not just throw in the kitchen sink too and went on a weekend trip to Hong Kong for a 50k SkyRunning race. Did I mention that the indoor track race, the 50k Ski, and the trip to Hong Kong were on three consecutive weekends?
“My philosophy on running is, I don't dwell on it, I do it.” - Joan Benoit Samuelson