Mentally Preparing for Running in Winter

Actic Running Gear

No – this isn’t a picture from this week … it is actually from a -10F morning last January! But yesterday as I was getting ready to head out for my run after Lisa left for work, I stepped outside and the wind was quite blustery … even though it was 41F outside! I had a couple of things to do online before I headed out, and I found myself dawdling a bit.

Why? Because I really wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the wind.

But once I got myself going (and my Garmin decided to lock on), I was fine. After all, it was really not that cold, and the wind wasn’t so bad for the majority of the run. I ended up running 9.5 miles on my hill run, which was the longest I’d run since last weekend’s half marathon. And by the time I was home I felt great and energized – and happy that it had only taken me 1:20 to do the run.

But after I showered I thought of something I tell the kids – when you take an hour to do a 10 minute task, don’t complain later about a lack of free time; instead think of how you can make better use of your time to give yourself more leisure time. But while I was happy with my running time, what I realized was that with my pre-run dawdling I really had spent two hours from when I SHOULD have left until I returned.

And it was the culmination of a not-very-efficient week – I was getting up at my regular time, but after the 19F chill of Monday I found myself dawdling each morning, slowly getting out the door. Sure I built up from 4.25 miles on Monday to 6.5 on Friday … but I got home 10 minutes later than I should have because I couldn’t get my butt out the door.

So this morning I had a pep talk with myself – one of my goals between now and the spring is to keep up my mileage, and even try to increase it … without adding time. There are two ways to do that: get faster and be more efficient. The first one is a general goal, and I know I have a load of work to do on that front. But being more efficient is actually much easier to do – I just need to get my butt out the door without hopping on the laptop after my morning routine is all done.

So today after Lisa left, I had a couple of money-related things to look at, which would take about 15 minutes. So between that, getting myself all prepped and my Garmin going, I wanted to be running by 11:15 – and according to my Garmin I started out right at 11:15. I ended up doing 11.5 miles today, for a great 21 mile weekend. I had been hoping to do 20 between the two days, so I was happy with my distance – and my pace.

As an aside, I had a slight interruption in my run. People talk about getting the ‘runner trots’, and based on my system I have never had that problem and doubt I even will … but unfortunately I DO have a bladder the size of a walnut! So I was about 8 miles into my run when I was coming close to our street … and knew I had to stop (this was not a ‘running in the woods’ day). Ugh – but I stopped and was on my way to finish the final 3 miles without issue.

The wind today was much stronger – as I rounded the bend coming off our street I hit it in my face … and knew we’d be together for the next three miles. But despite the chill I had no problems, and I feel like I have come to acceptance that the season is changing. I lost a winter running glove in Kentucky in March, so I need something heavier for when it gets really cold, but I have a plan – and it basically comes down to getting my butt out the door!

Once again it is a mental game – I actually LOVE running in fresh-fallen snow, the silence and serenity are absolute bliss to me. And extreme cold like the picture above … I love the challenge (except for my fingers getting cold). So I need to understand that it is a mental game – and that conquering THIS challenge is like any other task.

How do YOU feel about outdoor running during the winter?

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4 thoughts on “Mentally Preparing for Running in Winter

  1. There is nothing quite like running on a fresh undisturbed 3-6 inches of new powdery snow! It is almost a magical experience, especially if the sun is shining and the snow is glistening. I am not that crazy about running in temps under 20F any more, I know that I will, but I don’t enjoy it, getting wimpy in my dotage.

    You are spot on though about running in the cold/wind, it is more mental than it is physical. Once you get out there you can just do it w/o a lot of problems, but getting out the door is the problem.

    Winter running is just the way it is, unless you want to run on the treadmill all the time, which I do not. šŸ™‚

  2. I have found that since coming back to running after my thyroid, that my fingers are more susceptible to getting cold … nothing physical, circulation is good and everything, just get cold and I hate that feeling.

    So in a way it is hilarious that I would rather be out in -10F temps than in 25F with wind and without my heavy gloves … all a mental game šŸ™‚

  3. Great post! It IS so much worse if you’re not mentally prepared for the cold! Although once you are prepared, it’s kind of fun to feel so hardcore :). Agree on the dilly-dallying and then complaining you don’t have time … unfortunately I’m guilty of that sometimes!!!

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