3 Tips to Successfully Training in the Winter

With winter now officially in full swing, the ability for many runners to get in quality training is seriously under threat. Dangerous, unpredictable weather conditions may plague your town for days at a time, leaving you at a loss for exactly how you are going to get in a run, let alone a workout. During such times of great uncertainty and possible frustration, try utilizing one of these three tricks to ensure you keep on your training program and also remain healthy and happy at the same time!

1. Draw strength from others

The group workout or training run is always an important tool in a runner’s arsenal, but during the winter it becomes even more powerful. When its freezing cold and snowy outside and the pull of staying inside around the fireplace with a steaming mug of hot chocolate is strong, the added motivation that comes with training alongside someone else can make all the difference.

If you and your team or training partner can go out and do the same run or workout, great. You’ll be able to feed of each other and get done what you need to do get done together. But even if there is no one else doing the exact same distance or set of intervals as you, the simple act of meeting up with others can be enough. Whether you warm up together or you hear them give you a little cheer as you go by them on the track, being accountable to someone other than yourself can give you that extra push necessary to stay on track when things are tough.

2. Be flexible with your training

Flexibilty is a another crucial aspect of any runner’s training, even more so in the winter when unexpected and unavoidable occurrences happen with greater frequency. Yes, commitment to a training plan is important, but knowing how to adjust your training to accommodate weather, travel, and any other unforeseen circumstances is just as important . For instance, a long tempo can be converted into relaxed cruise miles on the indoor track if the roads are not safe. An interval workout prescribed in meters can be easily done on a treadmill using comparable time intervals if you don’t have access to an indoor track. If you’re supposed to lift but you don’t have weights or a gym nearby, do a body-weight based strength routine instead.

You may not be doing the exact workout you intended to do, but chances are that in making these slight adjustments, you’re actually going to get in a better effort than if you had tried to force things. Every ounce of energy you don’t spend fighting the elements or stressing about how to find a facility that fits your exact needs is one that can be put towards getting better and achieving your goal.

3. Give yourself a pass.

Sometimes, despite how hard you try to rearrange your training to accommodate your travel plans, the weather or any other obligation, things just don’t work out. Sometimes the blizzard rages all day, the traffic is horrendous, or the fitness facility you’re a member of that is always open is one day randomly closed for maintenance. In these instances, the ones that would require you to go to extraordinary measures in order to get in your training precisely as planned (waking up at 4:00am to run before driving all day, running outside when its dangerously icy, breaking and entering, etc.), often times the best solution is to simply take a day off.

The ability to exhibit this manner of restraint, to give yourself a break rather than force things and possibly risk injury, is one of the hardest learned but most beneficial skills a runner can master. One missed day of training is not going to ruin your entire training cycle. In fact, sometimes being forced to take a day off can be a blessing in disguise. However, pushing yourself too hard, both physically and mentally, can absolutely have a significantly negative effect on your health, mood, and ultimately, your performance. Its hard for us as runners, a group of people who are constantly pushing boundaries, to accept the idea that less is more, but coming to terms with this is an important part of the journey towards reaching your running goals.