Monday, December 20, 2010

Running and Exercising in Winter

Aaahhh Winter-time. Freshly fallen snow on tall, stately pines. Icy winds blasting from the northwest. A great time to run!? Holiday madness and extra commitments everywhere - a great time to exercise!? On the brink of insane!? Truly, yes.

In order for me to lose the extra post-marathon mush that I gained from eating everything in sight and not running my 20 mile long runs, I must continue to run in the winter. My physical healthy depends on it. My loving husband is working crazy hours and we are crazy with school projects. Therefore, I must continue to run in the winter. My mental health depends on it as well.

If you have the luxury of running or exercising inside, by all means take advantage of it and do not feel guilty. However, I find that I need to be outside. I'm just addicted to fresh air, I guess, but you may find also that the quality and length of your workout will be different or improved outside. At least open the curtains, heck with the neighbors, and look outside while you exercise. I swear it helps!

I have to say my cold five miles yesterday was perfect and did I mention very cold? Here are a few ideas that have helped me (I write them down so that I can remember next year and not dread the winter).

1.Be prepared - wearing the right kind of cold weather clothing makes all the different. Run comfy but not too warm, you'll get too hot and then chilled. Try out what works for you. I run with my college cross country sweatshirt and a windbreaker even though it was in the teens. I get hot. See what works for you.

2. Do not worry about pace and time - ice under the snow, it just slows me down. No matter how hard I try, I cannot run 7:30 min miles in snow. Isn't smart and isn't going to happen. So, I changed my expectations. I just WANT to be outside for at least 50 minutes and come home a more sane mommy. All the same, I do try to push myself within the limits of safety.

3.Run regardless - test yourself. Even if it is raining, snowing, blowing, freezing, I have found that I am happier for having endured it. Sometimes the views of the weather are fantastic. Yesterday, at the top of a very steep Fair Ave hill, the landscape was breathtaking, as was the cold, but the cold wind was almost tender. This is worth it. And, some days, well, it is just plain cold and I come home, but I made it out!

This December, I decided that I did not want to wait until the New Year to begin my resolutions or to tackle my plan of running and exercising in the winter. I did not want the dread. I am so glad to be carving time in this busy season for some sanity. Time to run and pray and keep a level head is always worth the effort. I have had to say "no" to tons of lovely, fun, important-sounding stuff to keep a simple schedule and enjoy the season. For the first time, probably ever, I am finding the balance of exercising and running during the winter and holidays to be exactly what I needed. What other ways do you prepare for or battle the cold?


  1. Great point on the time you are out there vs. speed. It's all about how long you stay in the elements during a run these days. Speed? Forget about it!

  2. Thank you for useful tips! The winter is coming and for runners it is crucial time. It is a great temptation to give up on running.