This has been one of the worst winters I have seen as a runner in Michigan in a few years. I had almost forgotten what it was like to wear two pairs of pants, Under Armour, jackets, and more just to get my run in outside. I know for me I could be kicking butt on my training plan, but when the snow hits and I have to miss a run, I start to spiral. It happens to everyone; you start to think, “Maybe a spring marathon isn’t a good idea” or worse “How will I ever be able to get in good enough shape to do this race?”
The first step in overcoming the winter blues is to take a deep breath and remember every runner in who lives in a winter wonderland is going through exactly what you are going through. No one simply LOVES running when it’s zero degrees and there is two feet of snow. I follow these rules when it comes to training in the winter and hopefully they can help you too!
Winter Running Tips
If it’s a recovery run, run outside! Recovery runs are meant to be easy so if it’s super cold, windy and snowy, that’s OK! Layer up, go outside and do what you can do. Try not to look at your watch because you WILL be going slower than normal. Recovery runs are all about the effort and time on your feet.
Speed days keep me inside! I personally like to keep my speed work days on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I look ahead at the weather and can plan a few days in advance what I will be doing. If it looks like the weather isn’t going to be conducive with mile repeats or whatever speed work I have planned, then I either head to the YMCA and use a treadmill. Another option for me is to check out a local indoor track! You may be surprised to learn that most Universities have indoor tracks that they will let you use for a small fee. Just last week I paid a 10 dollar fee and ran on Grand Valley State Universities 300 meter indoor track and had a great work out!
Never miss a long run! Your long runs are your building blocks to your big race. What if it’s pouring down rain on race day? Or worse, what if it’s a blizzard? Nine times out of ten, a race won’t be canceled for poor weather and you’ll have to tough it out. Try to follow that rule for your long run. You can always slow down your pace and adjust for the climate, but getting it down outside will prepare you so much better for race day.
Know when to take a break. A few weeks ago I managed to run all of my runs outside, but the low temperatures and high winds were starting to burn me out. When that happened, I decided to take an unplanned day off and just REST. The next day, the weather wasn’t any better but I felt more capable of attacking my run after having given myself a little break.
If all else fails, and you can’t get into the training and you’ve decided winter running isn’t for you, then maybe a spring race isn’t for you either. THAT IS COMPLETELY OK! You are still a runner even if you don’t race one season. Try alternative exercises to get you through the bad days: hot yoga, spin class, free weights, etc.! It’s all about what makes you feel your best, and fall races are just as fun as spring ones.
Jackie Green is a local radio personality for 105.3 HOT-FM and is also a wife and mother to a 2-year-old little girl. She’s been a distance runner as long as she can remember and competed in her first 5K at 12 years old! Now at 33, her passion for the sport remains the same. Jackie ran for the Ferris State University Bulldogs track and cross country teams while obtaining her bachelors in applied speech communications. When Jackie isn’t with her family, working or running she spends her time raising awareness for people with intersex conditions. Learn more about the fight for intersex rights at interactadvocates.org.