If you had asked me before this winter whether I preferred heavy mileage in winter or summer, I would have said absolutely winter. I’ve done a fall marathon, which involved 20 mile training runs in 90+ degrees with matching humidity. I’ve done a spring marathon, which involved long runs where I ran the same mile over and over because it was the only one without ice. Hands down, winter won.
This winter has been the worst winter I’ve ever experienced in Virginia. It’s not the snow that’s the problem, it’s the wicked cold. And the wind. I think it has been windy every.single.day this winter. But when it comes down to it, I think I still prefer big mileage in the winter.
So, here’s how to a southern girl can stay fit during a winter that feels like it’s in the north:
1. Get the gear. You may not use them often, but that means they’ll last for many years. Get yourself some Yaktrax. Get some heavier gloves. Invest in Smartwool socks. Get a buff or something else you can pull up over your face when needed. Buy some handwarmers. Be prepared. You may only use them once in a great while but if you are planning to run until well into your senior years, you’ll use them enough to make it worth it.
2. Dress appropriately. Figure out what works for you at what temperatures. Everyone is different, but if there is no ice on the ground, cold weather should not keep you inside. (Unless you want it to and that’s ok too.) The key for me is layers! I often like an extra layer on my butt to keep my glutes warm, but it doesn’t take long into a run before I ditch the gloves. Experiment at different temps and take notes. (Trust me, those will really come in handy the next winter when you can’t remember how much to wear at each temperature.)
3. Embrace the treadmill. Figure out what keeps you going on the ‘mill. Reading? Music? Your favorite tv show? I run one of two ways on the treadmill: either some form of speedwork if I’m running less than 6 miles or my true long run speed if I’m going longer. If I’m doing speedwork, I turn on HGTV and run. If I’m running slow, I read a book. I can run up to a 10 minute mile pace with my book on the Kindle Fire.
4. Be flexible. Be willing to move your runs around or change the distances or change the location. I’m lucky in that I have a treadmill at home, I live a half mile from a (very small) indoor track, and my neighborhood streets tend to get cleared pretty quickly. But I do have to work around Beer Geek’s conference calls and his own use of the treadmill and my kids’ school closings. Sometimes this means I don’t hit exactly the mileage that I want, but as long as I’m close, I call it good. And if you get a beautiful day, JUMP.ON.IT. FIND the time to run when the weather is gorgeous.
5. Cut yourself some slack. I have been sicker this winter than I have been in years. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have a stuffy nose. I spent my entire run yesterday coughing up snot. (Gross, I know. Really makes you want to go for a run with me, right?) But I’ve done what I can and I’ve run slower when needed. I may not have a perfect training cycle, but it will be a good enough one. Because, before you know it, you’ll be cursing the hot weather again.
Any other tips you’d suggest? I’d love to hear any tricks you have for getting through winter. Also, if you’ve created a treadmill workout to fight the boredom, drop the link in comments.