I like knowing what other runners think of winter running, and whenever I ask, more times than not, I get an emphatic “love it” or “hate it” response.
Me? I hate it. I hate it for the obvious reasons – it’s cold, dark, cold, and dark. Besides that, it takes more effort to run in the winter. I have to prepare: wear more layers of clothes and reflective gear, and find a route that’s well lit. Running in winter might mean I shorten my distance (to avoid freezing!) or slow my pace (as my body does not run as efficiently in the cold).
Maybe I would enjoy it more if I had a serene, snowy landscape to distract me? But until the weather decides to cooperate with my wishes, I do my best to focus on upcoming spring races.
Despite all of that, I felt great running the other morning. That was, until I mapped my route and my pace – short and slow. I was discouraged and on the verge of tossing my sneakers in the Schuylkill, but instead I went straight to Google for an answer to “why I do this?!”[h2a]Does the value of winter running really exceed the effort it takes, however short my distance or slow my pace?[/h2a]
So here’s what I found: My top five cold-weather inspirations that makes that extra effort (and layer of reflective gear) worthwhile:
- Running outside is better
“When you run [outside], you propel yourself over the surface, which can include hills, flat areas, and places where the surface is uneven. That’s a harder effort for sure. Don’t go to the gym. Run outside.” – New York Times, Train your mind to run right through the winter
- I am tough
“The mere difficulty of running when the temperature dips below freezing makes us tougher.” – Hal Higdon
- I’m prepping for spring
“The fact is, maintaining a base over the winter is critical to successful spring running.” Runners World, Your winter running plan
- Running is better with a buddy
“Make a date to meet someone for a run. There’s no wimping out when someone is waiting.” Runners World, 10 tips for running in the cold
- Comfort now = competitive later
Forget speed. Winter running is more about maintenance miles than speed work.
“Off-season running should be done at a somewhat comfortable pace. You don’t want to race yourself every day, but at the same time, going too slow will not produce the results you are shooting for.” Buckeye Valley, Winter Running Guide
For those of you who love running in the cold, do you have any tips or tricks that would help me get through this winter? I’d love to hear them!