Winter Running

In just the last two weeks, we've seen everything from rain, snow, sleet, and hail, to wind, ice, freezing rain, and below-zero temperatures. I thought it would be prudent to regain perspective; it's important to keep certain things in mind as you brave the elements to go running.

Running throughout the winter is a necessity in order to be in prime shape for spring races. Of course, winter running can vary greatly depending on where you live, and for a Midwest runner, winter can mean snow, ice, and wind (sometimes all at once). This can present a tricky situation for those who desire a rigid routine. During the winter months, it isn't as simple as setting up a week of training and sticking to it. Just because a 10-mile tempo is on the schedule for Tuesday doesn't mean that 7-to-9-inch snowstorm is going to hold off. Here are a few tips I try to use during the winter season to make sure I get the most I can out of my training plan.

Be flexible

Scratching a speed session because it is nasty outside doesn't mean the workout is completely lost. When planning intensity training sessions in winter, try to pick the intensity sessions desired for a 10-14 day cycle. Make a point to note that these are the key elements to your 10-14 day cycle, and that completing them is priority number one. The rest of your running can be filled in around them. Once you know which intensity sessions you are going to do, be ready to do them on a variety of days. Maybe Monday is sunny and dry. Be flexible enough to drop in one of the more intense sessions. Maybe on Thursday there are 30mph winds and hail. Push the workout off to a different day.

Look ahead

Check the weather. Have a few workout options for each of the next few days, so no matter what the weather has in store, a feasible workout is available to you.

Know your routes

Get to know which routes get shoveled or cleared most quickly. Some areas seem to take days to get cleared, while others seem to get shoveled as soon as the first flake hits the ground. Be familiar with your training grounds.

Effort, not distance

On really sketchy days, run based on effort. Listen to your body rather than staring at your pace per mile. It’s to be expected that your pace will be slower if the terrain is severe. Focus on listening to your body to gauge how much running to do.

Keep an open mind

Embrace the weather! Just because there is 6 inches of snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t run. It just means running might be different. View it as a change of pace. Often trudging through rough snow-covered paths can mimic a technical trail really well. Embrace this opportunity to make you a stronger runner.

And lastly

Always remember that when it comes to winter running, the worst days seem to stick in our minds. But not every day is like that. There will always be a host of gorgeous running weather, even in January and February. Looking forward to the sunny, calm, 30-degree days where you can cruise for hours without a sip of water.