We’re in the thick of winter, and if you’re anything like me, you’re working hard to fight those winter running blues. This winter is my first in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, which averages 104 inches of snowfall annually. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Adirondack Mountains are just a few hours north of NYC, and they couldn’t be more different — with millions of acres of protected land full of trails, lakes, ponds and rivers (and no yellow cabs in sight).
I took the most drastic turn I possibly could have last summer, trading a small apartment in Brooklyn for a red cottage just off a little lake. What was once our family vacation spot became the place I call home. In the big city, I was surrounded by people. They’ve been replaced by tall pine trees — and I haven’t looked back.
Running is different up in the woods, especially this time of year. Without street lamps to light the way, no sidewalks to duck from snowplows and days with sub-zero temperatures that cut through you in mere seconds, I had to get a little creative. Maybe you don’t live as far off the beaten path as I do, but these tips can be applied wherever you call home so that winter won’t mess with your run like it has mine.
“In the big city, I was surrounded by people. They’ve been replaced by tall pine trees — and I haven’t looked back.”
Wherever you live, weather will and does get in the way of outdoor running. That’s just a fact of the sport. Keep a written agenda, map out the forecast in writing for the week ahead and know what the forecast means to you. Record how temperatures affect you in 5°F increments — note what you can handle and what you can’t. It doesn’t make you any less of a runner to know that conditions below a certain temperature are not going to make for a good run. Just be honest with yourself. Map out your runs based on the conditions — and for those days that you know running outdoors won’t happen, get creative. And be sure you’re gearing up properly.
I for one, have much more fun training when I don’t fight the season. When I embrace its offerings — like trying a new surface when the roads are too icy or otherwise unsafe for running. Have snowshoes or micro-spikes on hand for those days. Recently, when the roads were too slippery and the plows were out, I actually ran on the lake near my house!
Yes, I ran on a frozen lake. There was just enough snow coverage so that when I put my micro-spikes on over my trail sneakers, I could run without slipping.
Cross-country skiing is another great winter activity, and sometimes it’s even offered at local golf courses or ski mountains. Or, how about replacing your long run with a hike? You’ll be surprised by the effort it takes to summit a snowy mountain, and it’ll only make you stronger.
Bite the bullet, buy a membership to your local gym and get comfortable with the idea that you’ll be spending more time indoors. Make the dreaded treadmill run a little bit more exciting, and alternate sprints on different levels of incline. Dive into cross-training efforts that require as much intensity as running, whatever that means to you. For me, cross-training has been Spinning classes and lap swimming.
Most importantly, keep a goal in mind so that you don’t lose motivation. Sign up for a race at the beginning of spring so that you have something to work toward. There will be days where you’ll have to throw the towel in — and that’s OK — but with a little planning ahead and a few steps out of your “strictly running” comfort zone, winter won’t mess with you this year.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN