Beating the “Winter Runner Blues” by Aisling Keane

The sun is expected to set at around 4:00pm tonight. In the summer months I will go on runs or bike rides at night and relish in the warm air surrounding me as I workout. In the winter months, I find myself making excuses as I exit class with darkness around me at 4:00pm and head back to my dorm room.

Now, I have to drag myself out of my warm room and layer up in 100 different clothing items to avoid freezing as I attempt to go on a run. I always feel better after I work out, yet in the winter months I struggle immensely to get myself to actually do it.

I’ve researched and researched how to make working out more tolerable for myself and have found a lot of the same recommendations – “find a gym and work out inside!” Or “wear gloves!” In theory, yes, these are decent recommendations. But for me, I need to be outside and no matter how many pairs of gloves I wear, I’m still afraid that my fingers might fall off. After some further research and personal experiences, I’ve put together some of the best recommendations on how to beat the “runners winter blues” and take on the cold weather!

winter-running-tips.jpg

Stay Low: active.com recommends shortening your running stride and keep your feet lower to the ground. I have found that when I run with a shorter stride I not only reduce my risk for straining muscles, but I also take the pressure off of running too fast and having my muscles get too tired before I’m able to finish. I use this tactic when running 30+ minutes and found that I was able to gain everything I hope to gain from a run. I finished feeling tired, refocused and as though I didn’t kill my body so I could run the next day as well!

Keep it FUN!: Nobody is ever forcing me to go on a run – so why does it feel like that! I dread running and it’s something that lingers on my to-do list until I complete it. In the winter months I’ve tried to make an additional effort to keep things fun – whether that is add some upbeat songs to my running playlist or going on a run in a neighborhood I know has pretty Christmas decorations. Keeping the run fun helps keep my mind off the fact that I am tired!

Fartlek Runs: I used to do Fartlek runs all the time during my high school winter track career. I find them to be a great way to stay mentally engaged throughout a run. Changing pace throughout a run is a great way to make the time fly by. Here is one of my favorite runs:

Warm up 5 minute easy run

5 minutes hard effort
1 minute easy effort

4 minutes hard effort
1 minute easy effort

3 minutes hard effort
1 minute easy effort

2 minutes hard effort
1 minute easy effort

Cool down 5 minutes easy run

Find a running partner: I tend to not holding myself to goals when I am alone. I’ll come up with a plethora of excuses- “it’s too cold” or “I’ll do more tomorrow.” I find that when I run with a friend, not only do I have a running partner to keep me entertained but I also stay on track. If I have my mind set on doing 3 miles, I’ll complete the whole run.

Overall, I know that my runs in the winter won’t be as successful or enjoyable as the beautiful summer nights. I will go to the gym on the freezing days and run on the treadmill or the elliptical to offer myself a relief from the zero degree temperatures outside. I think that during the winter months it’s important to just maintain a level of exercise that keeps me happy and focused. I worry less about distance/time and focus on heading out and doing something every day. I’m definitely not set to break any world records soon – so instead, I’m just trying to keep it enjoyable!

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