Slippery roads, deep snow covered sidewalks and blindness-causing snow flurries — these are but a few of the challenges winter running throws at us. Still we, the long distance runners, must complete our long training runs. Today would have been challenging, had I not had my “running peeps” to keep me motivated and safe. Here is how to keep winter running enjoyable:
This morning I thanked my friends for getting me to run through the falling snow and for helping to navigate the slippery conditions. Motivation is definitely low when the snow is coming down heavily and I cannot see my surroundings, but having friends to run with makes a big difference. Three of us set out together, and with our bright jackets and running tights (Kristen’s winter trademark these days), we could follow one another and keep out of the way of oncoming traffic. As we ran our 24 kilometers, we passed cars stuck in ditches and I realized again the blessing of having running partners. We look out for each other and are there for one another in case of injury. Our conversations also keep the runs interesting and the miles just pile up as we enjoy being together. Running with friends brings out the fun in us, but it also brings out some healthy competition. We push one another to run up the steep hills, rather than avoiding them by taking another route. We often pick up the pace as we attack the hills, and the friendly challenge makes us stronger and fitter. There’s no avoiding the tough parts of a run when others are with you. We keep each other encouraged and accountable.
This winter I finally invested in fleece-lined winter running tights. Definitely worth it! I’ve found that to enjoy winter running, I need to invest in good gear: gear that wicks (does not absorb moisture), is lightweight yet warm and blocks the wind. A wind and water resistant jacket is essential. My extremities are sensitive, as I struggle with Raynaud’s phenomenon, so I require warm ski mitts (many people prefer lighter weight mitts) and merino wool socks. The initial investment may be steep, but these quality items last and are well worth it.
Footwear is obviously also extremely important. In winter conditions either a trail runner or Yaktaxs are ideal. I’ve written about my love for Yaktrax before. This morning I was very grateful for my Yaktrax, as they kept me from slipping or falling, even though the roads were extremely icy and snow covered.
To enjoy winter running, remind yourself how tough you are becoming. As you persevere through each of these runs, both your body and your character are being strengthened. Though it is difficult to imagine while you are bounding through snowdrifts, spring will eventually arrive, and all these tough miles through the deep snow will only make you stronger and faster. Just think how great that spring race will feel. You will feel unencumbered by all the heavy winter gear and the slush and snow and you will achieve some personal bests! Winter training helps you to get fitter and mentally tougher in all areas of your life.
Tomorrow I will put my winter running to the test at the Valentine’s 5km Race in Port Dalhousie, put on by the St. Catharine’s Road Runners! Many training buddies will be there, either running or organizing the race. James will be running and together we will be racing in the couples category. Come join us in the race or cheer us on!