The outside temperatures may be plunging, but this is no excuse to stay indoors til May. While it may be incredibly difficult (errr, impossible) to emerge from your warm, toasty bed where you're wrapped up in soft, flannel LL Bean sheets to lace up your running sneaks (with screws in them right?), you need to dig deep and find a way to make it happen.
You've spent all spring and summer building up a strong running foundation, logging mile after mile after mile. You cross trained. You iced. You foam rolled religiously. You did your town's local road running series this summer. Now when you proudly sport the series jacket there's an extra pep in your step.
But as the days get shorter, the leaves turn colors and soon leave (get it?) the trees bare, you think ahead to the dark, cold winter months with a bit of trepidation.
Your mind wanders to all the hours a day you spend running. Quite quickly you've replaced that time with catching up on seasons of Scandal.
You catch yourself saying, "I'll just take some time off. I deserve it. It's just a little rest, no biggie. I'll give my body a break."
We both know that's code for "I'm too scared/intimidated/lazy/fill-in-the-blank to run this winter."
If you take this "short-little-no-big-deal-break" from running, before you know it, the birds will be chirping, you'll have to dust off your running shoes and you'll be huffing and puffing to run one mile. All the while kicking yourself for not running during the winter.
Lucky for you, it's not yet the spring when you're out of shape (again.) It's December 3rd and the winter is still to come.
Here are my 5 Tips to Motivate to Run in the Cold.
1. Get the right gear.
Don't pretend like getting new workout clothes doesn't motivate you to take 'em for a spin. New Athleta pants and I'll all about the long run.
The reality is that you need the right gear when you're going to run outside this winter. If you're not in a position to buy an entire cold weather running wardrobe in one sitting, just buy a piece at a time.
Until Santa brought me a new cold weather Under Armour running top and tights last year, I wore the same thing over and over again. My running buddy was thrilled when I showed up to run on December 26th in an entirely new outfit. Needless to say, I did a lot of laundry last winter as I only had a couple pieces to rotate through. But I made it work. I was running 4 days a week, not 5-6 days/week as I tend to in the warmer months.
2. Sign up for late winter or early spring race.
Once I've laid down cold hard cash (or handed out my credit card) for a medal, wicking tee and hopefully some food at a finish line, you bet that's motivation enough to get my butt in shape for whatever half marathon I've just signed up for.
Last year about this time, a group of friends and I settled on the Eastern States 20 Miler + Half Marathon race. It took place on March 30th 2014 on the Seacoast of New Hampshire.
Yup, we were really embracing the possibility of cold, harsh weather for our race. March in New Hampshire? On the water? What were we thinking?!
It turned out to be a helluva race (I'd encourage you to read more about it HERE.)
No matter how much of a donkey show it was on race day, we all trained straight through the winter because of that race. Find a race in February or March and sign up for it.
(Not sure where to find any race? Go HERE to search this race directory by state, distance and calendar.)
3. Channel your inner bad ass.
Yes. If you run outdoors in the winter, you're a bad ass. It's a known, accepted fact.
Think about people you know that run outdoors in the winter. Besides maybe being a little crazy, you secretly think they are pretty bad ass right? So go on. Run outdoors and channel your inner bad ass. She's dying to come out.
4. Change your mindset.
Running in the winter isn't about PR's.
It's not about doing hill workouts (better to slide down them on a sled).
It's not about track workouts or tempo runs.
Running in the winter is about maintenance mileage.
You'll want to maintain a conversational pace when running (or if you run with me, a listening pace since I jabber on and on.) You'll want to cut back to running 4 days a week. During the winter months, you want to keep up your aerobic activity and avoid burnout.
Okay okay - so what exactly does that look like in terms of mileage each week you want to know.
Last winter I ran 4x week totaling about 20 miles. Looking at my training log, I ran 3-5 miles two days week, a 6 miler on Thursday and maybe a 6-8 miler on Sunday. A lot of times my distance depended on the weather.
Once January rolled around and the half marathon was 12 weeks out, I did my best to keep up my mid-week mileage with a consistently longer run on Sundays when I could pull it off.
5. Find a running buddy.
This is the sole (get it?!) reason that I ran through the winter last year. Every Thursday at 7am, my good friend Shannon and I met for a run. We ran through rain, ice, sleet, snow, wind, snow, sleet, rain, more cold and the occasional sunny day.
We all know the power of an accountability buddy. No matter how damn cold it was outside, I did NOT want to be the one who bailed. From October to June, we only missed three Thursdays - all because it was too dangerous to drive to meet each other. Now that's commitment.
On Sundays I run with a group of running buddies that meet year round, no matter the weather. With two running days a week covered, it was easy for me to sneak in a 3-5 mile run in the mornings.
Magic combination for me to stay running last winter was Shannon + my Sunday run group + March Half Marathon = Running 4x/week in the winter.
I know firsthand the power of an running buddy and accountability. With you in mind, I've revamped my popular online program for the winter.
Eat and Run : The Polar Vortex edition : A 28 day program that teaches you how to eat, stay warm and keep running even when the temperatures plunge.
Imagine having your own personal cheerleader motivate you to roll out of bed and go for a run this winter. She'll even tell you exactly what to wear for a winter run.
This same cheerleader, a certified nutrition coach for runners will also tell you what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacktime.
As a result, you feel like a bad a** for running in the cold. You keep up your mileage until the spring AND you'll have enough energy to go sledding with your nieces and nephews.
(You're saying hell yes right?)
Program registration is December 8th -12th. Program begins on December 14th. Click HERE to learn more.
(Did you miss Part I of the series? Click HERE to read about what to wear to run in the cold.
Did you miss Part II of the series? Click HERE to read about how to stay safe while running in the cold.)