I got a number of great comments on my Sunday post, and loads of kudos on various social media sites about getting out there and running this week. To be honest, I didn’t think I had a very good week – but a good friend at work put it to me simply: you get out there, you are out running in weather that makes people skip trips to the gym … that is an accomplishment.
And I got what they were saying – even though at times all I can think is how much it sucks running in sub-zero temperatures. And to be sure – I long for those mornings when it is just a joy to quickly toss on shorts and a tech shirt and breeze out the door. And this record cold winter has made sure I will appreciate every minute of those runs. But for now – it is all about getting in the runs. So here are a few quick tips that work for me:
1. No Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothes
Yes, I scoffed at this in the Runner’s World article I cited on Saturday, but the reality is that with the right clothes and shoes you can go out in pretty much any weather.
But Sub-Zero running is nothing to joke about. OK – let’s be very, very, very clear … winter running can be DANGEROUS. Cold weather can get you into trouble FAST. So PLEASE make safety your first priority.
Along those lines, things I have said before: plan your route for an easy exit home, monitor yourself constantly to be sure you are OK, hydrate and ensure you have proper coverage.
Once you have that done, work on a layering strategy based on falling temperatures – sub-zero temperatures are NOT something to jump into without knowing how your clothes will perform (OK, so I did that, but I could have been home easily after 1.25 miles if there was a problem). Wicking is key, as are clothes that keep the heat in. I have become a huge fan of Nike Pro Combat and especially Under Armour Extreme Coldgear.
2. If You Have Time to Read This …
One of the biggest complaints/excuses about exercise – I don’t have the time.
One lesson I have worked with my kids on, is that when you take an hour to do a job that should take 15 minutes (between tweets/texts, dawdling, chatting, whatever), you have just used 45 minutes of free time. Obviously this came in response to them talking about not having any free time – and it is a message I am constantly driving home – but the same is true for almost anything.
Think about your routine every day – could you find 30 minutes? I bet you could. And I am not even talking about going outside for a run! On icy days I do something from the BMAX bodyweight exercises. Megan talks about simple ways to integrate exercise in daily routines – stuff like exercise during commercials is a great idea to sneak it in.
Bottom line – make a list of the things that suck time out of your day and leave you ‘no time to exercise’ … and kill some of them!
3. Forget the Plan
For many people, the start of a new year is either ‘Resolution’ time or they start training for a marathon or other event. In my opinion that is about the worst possible idea! I mean, after Christmas we are still in that ‘new winter’ glow where white is beautiful, the chill is acceptable, and we have renewed energy. By February … we are just done.
So if you are thinking “my resolution was to run 5 days a week … I am lucky to do 3” or “I haven’t hit my training plan mileage in 5 weeks” – STOP. Because those thoughts are the path to giving up. Think instead – in THIS weather I AM getting out 3 days a week; I am still training for my race. Switch your negatives to positives … because this winter has been HARD for the majority of the country (and for those where it is NOT true … we’re glaring at you).
So forget the plan, and just do what you can TODAY.
4. Leave The GPS Behind
Funny thing last week – one day I forgot to start my GPS. And two other days I just didn’t bring it at all. And yet, by the time I was running Saturday I realized that I had really been pushing the pace on those very cold days because of how my thighs felt. And every time I check my paces, they are pretty average with my summer paces – even if it feels like a slog.
But even if my times were abysmal … I was out there. When it gets THAT cold, stop worrying about splits and intervals and easy/moderate/hard and tempo and … well, anything but getting in the run.
5. Just Do It
This isn’t meant as a brag, or even a humble brag … but here are the numbers. 61 days in 2014, and I have run 53 of them (yes that means as many rest days last 2 weeks as the previous 7). Of those 53 days, 35 have been sub-zero temperature and/or wind chills, and only 5 days have been above 20F. That leaves 13 days in the 0-20F range … with 9 of the days between 0-10F, and only 4 ‘normal winter’ days with temperatures in the teens.
THIS is why my basic goals for winter running are:
– Get out there at least 5 days a week, and put in at least 30 miles.
– Get one ‘run with purpose’ per week. Essentially, that is ONE ‘training run’.
– Rely on my ‘old standard’. The reason you constantly see 6.75 miles on my summaries is because it is a route that is easy and I could run in my sleep and lends itself perfectly to slogging through day to day. There are easy ‘outs’ along the way if I need them, but by the time I get there I have more than two miles in … and am motivated.
In other words – I set myself up to succeed. So even when I feel like I have a crap week (like last week), in reality I am doing OK. This morning is a great example – the temperature was -2 with a -9 wind chill, but all I could think was ‘not bad’. Maybe I made a mental leap since Friday, who knows … but it was so motivating to feel great rather than slogging – now I can’t wait until tomorrow!
So what are YOUR tips for dealing with the ‘winter workout blahs’?