Winter Running Survival Guide

If you live on the East Coast, you've endured more than your fair share of snow this winter. We've had storm after storm (with more on the way this weekend) and at this point, the snow accumulation is getting pretty ridiculous. This warm-weather runner is wondering, will this winter ever end?

If you're not able to say "Peace out New England!" and head to sunnier pastures (think Arizona or Florida), try out my 5 tips to survive (and thrive!) with winter running.

1) Dress appropriately
I read on Twitter this season: "There's no bad weather, just bad gear." While I don't subscribe to this completely (what are you supposed to wear to run in a blizzard?!), I do agree that with proper gear, winter running isn't so bad, and can even be fun!

My winter running must-haves:

  • Double gloves - if it's below 30 degrees, 2 layers are a must! I like the cheap double-layer gloves from Target.
  • Proper Headgear - I'm always wearing a hat or headband to keep my ears warm. If there's precipitation, I also add a baseball cap to keep the snow or rain out of my eyes. It's amazing what a difference it makes!
  • Layers - I hate to be cold at the start of the run, so my first few miles include an extra layer on top. 20 minutes in, I'm usually warm and shed a long-sleeve. Yes, I have to carry the shirt the rest of the run, but that extra warmth makes all the difference in getting me out the door!

2) Set reasonable goals
When the temp drops below 10 and the real feel is -5 (aka insanely cold), it's hard if not impossible to run the same paces you run on a sunny, 70 degree day. It's taken me a few winters to realize that I can't run 7:00 pace as comfortably as normal when I'm weighed down by 3 layers, trotting down the road looking like a Michelin Man (albeit a fit one!). It simply takes more effort to run in the elements -- so set reasonable goals for yourself and don't freak out when your winter paces are a bit slower. Don't kill yourself on your recovery days being a slave to your Garmin - give yourself permission to run off of effort or use heart rate data to make sure you're not overdoing it. Adjust for temperature and surface (snow on the road will slow ya down!), and try not to overanalyze or stress. The sooner you accept this, the better your winter training will be - trust me!

3) Grab a buddy

If you're having trouble getting out the door on your own, set a running date with a friend. Committing to brave the cold together will guarantee that you both get your butts out the door! If your running buddies have left you for warm-weather training camps (like mine did!!), cajole your significant other into joining you (shout-out to mine who has been biking with me, blizzards and all!)

If you're in Providence, you can be my running buddy and join me for a run on March 7 at 8 am at Whole Foods Market University Heights. I'm hosting our first Run Club from the store (woohoo!) - I promise good company and some tasty healthy post-run snacks! Hope you can join!

4) Get indoors

With relentless storms and snowplows that can't keep up, I've had to do nearly every workout on the indoor track or treadmill. Moving indoors means I can control my workout and not worry about slipping on ice and taking a fall. Yes, I do go a little crazy doing 10 lap reps on the 200-meter track, but hey, it's good practice for the 10k! And true, you do get some funny looks from fellow gym rats when you change into your flats and do mile repeats on the treadmill, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Come outdoor track season, you'll be thankful you put in the time all winter, tough as it is.


5) Embrace it!

It's important not to stress over things such as the weather that you cannot change. You can complain (and if you follow me on Twitter, you know I do!), but you can't change Mother Nature, so, you may as well embrace it. Once you're done griping about the unplowed roads, you'll notice that it's actually quite beautiful out! And since you're likely one of the few people crazy enough to run outside, you'll have the roads all to yourself. Enjoy the peaceful quiet, take in the serene setting, and soon enough you'll realize you're running joyfully :)

Hope this Winter Running Survival Guide helps you get through the next few weeks of winter! I'm off to take my own advice and log some treadmill miles. Hang in there, spring will be here soon enough!