6 Ways to Make Winter Running More Enjoyable
Winter running can really suck. Anybody who says otherwise is trying to sell you something. It’s cold, it’s dark, and you’re lucky if you don’t slip and break your hip on those ever elusive sheets of ice.
When you come in from shoveling your roof, driveway and sidewalk for the second time in the same day, you may ask yourself “why do I live in a place like this?”
On the other hand, there is a subtle beauty and elegance about winter. Unless you have run through one, you may not get it.
Running outside in winter is perhaps the best way to truly appreciate the positives of winter. Running during the first snow, or first bitter cold day is a right of passage Minnesotans take pride in. The sound of the snow crunching underfoot as you make your way down a recently trampled path… signs that indicate others have been out there too… surviving.
If this romanticized view of winter running has not gotten you out the door yet, keep in mind that if you don’t – you may miss the opportunity to be outside for six months.
Here are 6 way to make winter running more enjoyable… or at least tolerable:
1. Dress for Winter Running
It all starts here. If you don’t have the right winter running gear, you’ll never get out the door. Winter running gear is expensive. There’s no getting around that. Find it on sale, on closeout, or ask for it as a gift. When you have the right tools, it makes the job so much easier.
Build your winter running gear wardrobe over time. Add a few pieces each year until you can handle the elements with the confidence of a Minnesota snow plow driver.
2. Run with Friends
Misery loves company. Schedule your winter runs with your friends who run. Make it an adventure. If you don’t have any running friends, head to your local running shop and figure out when their group runs are. If you don’t live near a running store, organize your own using a site like meetup.com.
Running with others is ALWAYS a motivating factor for me, especially in the winter.
Then, schedule brunch
Make it a habit to schedule your winter weekend long run to include brunch at your favorite spot. One of my favorite groups to run with rewards ourselves with this almost every weekend. Sometimes, I think we only run so we can have an excuse to overeat at brunch.
3. Set out Your Clothes and Get Dressed in a Warm Room
Whenever I have an early morning run, I set my clothes out the night before (and sometimes sleep in them). By doing this, you remove one more obstacle standing between you and your run.
Getting dressed in a warm room is a bonus. Jeff Gaudette likes to setup a small space heater on a timer so that the room is nice and toasty when he gets dressed. Simple things make big impact.
4. Run on the Treadmill
Believe it or not, running on a treadmill can motivate you to run outside during the winter.
How? It’s a mind game really.
In the dead of winter, two weekday runs on a treadmill help me focus my mental energy for three outdoor runs. Perhaps I am just soft, but it works.
I do speed work on the treadmill in the winter when possible. If you’ve ever tried to do this on icy paths, you understand. Consistent, reliable footing is precious.
5. Begin with Your End Goals in Mind
At the end of every running season, I begin thinking about the next year. I set various goals and think about how I am going to accomplish them.
Would you rather go into the spring season with a great base layer of miles or not? Think about your goals and plan backwards.
Even if your summer or fall goal race training doesn’t begin for awhile, now is a great time to begin increase your running volume. You will be better prepared to handle the intensity when your training plan kicks in.
6. Dynamically Warm Up in the Garage
I have found dynamic warmups (like the lunge matrix) before running in the cold is a great way to get the blood flowing. Wouldn’t you rather start warm instead of cold? Starting warm instead of cold is not only good for your muscles, but mentally it might trick you into thinking it is not quit as cold as your weather app suggests.
If you don’t have a garage, find a place in your home that’s a bit colder. Maybe an entryway or that one bedroom that needs a space heater.
Warm up in just your base layer. Warming up with all your winter running gear on will make you start to sweat. That is going to freeze the minute you step outside.