As we all know, staying fit in the winter is not easy. Whether you run, walk, bike, or whatever else you may do to stay in shape, it takes a lot of mental strength to get out the door and into the cold.

The treadmill and I do not get along too well. I absolutely dread it. I can do speed work or incline work on it every once in a while, but beyond that, it is torture. This means that to keep up my endurance, I have to get outside to get my good, long runs in. You know what though? Winter running can actually be fun!

Here are a few tips I have learned that may help you enjoy winter workouts:

First and foremost, you need good winter gear. I am running in Saucony’s Nomad Jacket and Nomad Pants and I love them! They are warm while still being breathable. I am especially impressed with the warmth of the pants. If you are looking for less expensive gear, I have been impressed with Old Navy’s Active line. I have not personally tried their winter gear, but I do have their running capris for spring and fall and I am really happy with them (and you cannot beat the price). Their winter gear looks nice and would be worth checking out.

 Layer, layer, layer! When the temperatures really drop I start wearing a long sleeve shirt under my running jacket, a pair of gloves, my pants, and an ear warmer. On really cold days I have a beanie on top of my ear warmer and then wear another ear warmer on my face (I know this sounds extreme, but we often get horrible wind that is well below 0). I know I look ridiculous when I have basically 100% of myself covered, but I really don’t care because it makes the weather bearable. Make sure to always wear gloves for your hands and something over your ears, as those are two areas that will lose circulation quickly in the cold.

Watch for ice. You definitely have to be more aware of every step in the winter. I have gone sliding down the sidewalk more than once while out running. Try to stay in areas where the sidewalks are plowed or shoveled often. For me, the best place to run after a snowy day is around the University by us. Their sidewalks are always clear and salted, it’s great! If ice is a big problem where you are, it would be worth looking into getting ice cleats for your shoes.

 Sign up for a spring race or make a goal you want to hit by the spring. Make sure your race distance or goal is something that you will have to work towards through the winter.  It’s amazing how much motivation you can get when you set a goal that you are not willing to turn your back on. Last year I had a half marathon in March that kept me going all winter and this year I am looking into another half marathon in April so that I am motivated to keep my distance up!

It will make you stronger. Running on snow will definitely make you physically stronger, and pushing yourself to continue on through the winter will make you mentally stronger, it’s a win-win situation!

 Run later in the day. You may have to adjust your workout schedule a little in the winter so you are running at warmer times during the day. I know it is hard to change up routines, but sometimes it is necessary.

Enjoy it! Look around and take in the beauty around you. Breath in the cold air and let it refresh you. Last year on Thanksgiving Day I went for a run in the snow and a car sped past me and sprayed me with freezing cold slush/ice. I was a little shocked to say the least, but after a minute, I just started laughing. That was all I could do in the situation. Laugh it off and keep going. And hey, I had a story to tell when I got back.

 Be smart. If the conditions really are dangerous, do not go out. Take it indoors, whether that means heading to the treadmill or doing a little Jillian Michaels, still do something with that time.

Above all, always have fun!


All photo credit goes to Xan’s Eye Photography