Winter the time to build your
Run for your life
Although it may not be as much fun running on rainy days like we’ve been having lately, it’s important to not let the weather dictate whether you run during the winter months.
Sure, sometimes it’s necessary to modify your workout plans based on the rain or cold. After several days of steady rain, for example, some of the trails I usually run are flooded, so I have to adjust my route.
There are runners who enjoy running through puddles. I try to avoid both as I can be comfortable running on cold, rainy days until my shoes and socks get soaked, and then it’s not so much fun anymore.
I’ve found that, when wearing the appropriate rainy weather gear, like Gore-Tex jackets and pants, gloves and a rain hat, it’s only the first few minutes out the door that are tough to get motivated about.
Once out into the rain (and/or cold), our bodies adjust and get warmed up, leaving us with the exhilaration of the fresh air in our lungs. For those with allergies, rainy days knock the pollen down, which is a plus.
And it’s not uncommon to have faster runs on cold days since speeding up is a good way to get warm and stay that way, despite what the thermometer says.
Another positive of rainy days, whether you are running on trails or the track, is that there are a lot less people out there, so you don’t have to worry about crowds or being harassed by dogs on the loose.
For competitive racers, the winter is the ideal time to run easy distance miles to build up the training base necessary for the strength needed for faster workouts and races later in the year.
Skipping too many workouts through the “rainy” months will have a significant negative impact in the months to come. I know this from personal experience, unfortunately.
Three winters ago, after consistently running under 19 minutes for 5K the prior year, I underwent knee surgery, leaving me unable to run for three and a half months in the winter. I did my best to come back from that layoff and managed, the last race of the year, to barely get back under 20 minutes (19:58).
But the lack of base training and easy distance miles in the winter could not be overcome no matter how hard I worked.
The weather can sometimes be intimidating this time of year, but the key is to do your normal workouts, as much as conditions allow, despite the rain or cold or hail or snow. If it feels too painful to run outside, an alternative is the treadmills at the local health clubs.
Don’t forget that bonus feeling of accomplishment you get from doing your workout even when conditions were against you.
There’s good aspects to be found in almost every workout, and in bad weather, it’s the mental toughness to keep going despite the conditions and not be stopped by them.
Whether you want to look good on the beach this summer or be able to race well in the spring, summer and fall, the winter is the time to get in shape and work on your mental toughness (which is very important in races).
If you stay committed to your workouts through the winter, in spite of whatever elements may come your way, you’ll reap the benefits later in the year.
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