Keep at it
by on Thursday, January 22, 2015  (3 comments)

Recent running sights by Adam Piotrowski, on Flickr

I've seen some notes from several runners in the past couple of weeks, expressing frustration as they push through this winter's training. I know the feeling, I've been experiencing the challenges myself.

Winter training is tough. You're probably facing both weather challenges and, at times, traction challenges with snow and ice. If you're like me, you're not racing as much if at all during the winter months so the motivation of an upcoming race isn't driving you. Depending on your "running personality" you might feel that the base training you're likely doing is dull and boring. Combined with the fact that you're base training, not peaking for a race, you're also running slower than you recall running this past fall when you were nearing your peak.

Understand that this is a tough period. Accept the challenges, then push through. Because the work you are doing now is the foundation for the faster running and race day successes that will come later. The strength and stamina you build now will determine the baseline for how much faster work you can do later and how much you can get out of it without your body breaking down.

Keep at it. You can do it!

What do you do to get yourself through the tough winter months? I'd love to hear some ideas in the comments. I'll share some things I do in the comments later.

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Ok, I promised it so here it is. A few things I do to keep going through the winter months. First, I should be honest and note that I don't have some of the same challenges some other runners have. My "running personality" actually favors the base training I'm doing during this time of the year. I enjoy long runs more than hard workouts. If I weren't competitive, I'd probably never do a speed workout but I'd still be out doing long runs.

That said, I still face challenges in the winter and here are a few things I do to try to lessen them:

Always have a goal: I like to set at least one goal for the upcoming year well in advance. Having the goal out there can give you something to focus on during the most difficult days.

Have an out: This used to be a sacrilege to me. Just toughen up and get out there. That's great when you're young and extremely highly motivated. Not that I'm less motivated now but I am less young. It's nice to have a treadmill or indoor track available as a break from the drag, even if you don't use those options often.

Have fun with it! Hey, it's not all boredom. I love running in the fresh snow, being the first to leave tracks. Better yet, while the snow is still falling. In particularly bad conditions, have some fun checking out the looks drivers give you as you run past them. The worse the conditions, the more fun it is.

"Embrace the suck!" Kind of playing into the last point. Sometimes it sucks and there's no way around it. Don't shy away from it. Embrace the accomplishment of pushing through the tough stuff. Be proud of yourself.

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The older I get the less I want to tollerate feeling cold. I've been over bundling on my runs, wearing head bands underneath running hats, capris under running tights, you name it. Double and tripple layers. Some days it's just more prudent to hit the TM, especially if it's slippery. What seems to be helping? Treadmill hill workouts. Really feel like they are a great confidence booster during this season. Good way to take advantage of the lull in training, ie no upcoming races and time to build strength. Also just joined Mothers RUN this town, MRTT. It is a great way to connect w/ other runners nearby to coordinate workouts. Haven't actually run w/ anyone new yet but there are so many people posting that I'm hopeful I'll find someone at a compatible pace. Sure would help facing the cold w/ a buddy.

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Diane, I've noticed that myself. I've been bundling up more in recent winters and spending a little more money to get good gear. Money well spent if I think about it. I don't know if I'm outgrowing the stupidity of youth or if my tolerance to the cold is lessening. What I do know is I'm more comfortable out on the run now and that makes a world of difference.

It's always good to surround yourself with good influences. Hopefully you can find some running partners. It's great to have people out there with you and is a huge motivational factor. Even if you don't, though, just having people around doing the same thing as you can be helpful. I've been working on filling my Facebook and Twitter feeds with runners who are positive about their running instead of runners and non-runners who are negative about anything and that makes a big difference in itself on my perspective.

I love treadmill hill workouts! While I don't consistently hit the treadmill, when I do, that's the first thing I think about. Could I wedge a hill workout into my schedule? The treadmill is so great for hill workouts because you can do things you just can't do outdoors, from selecting just the right grade for just the right distance to climbing for miles to not having to go back down the hill for repeats (which can be tough on some runners' legs).

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