You may not know it yet, but running in the winter is awesome! In fact, some runners (myself included) believe that running in the winter is the best part of the year. Sure, it’s cold, icy, dark, and you probably can’t feel at least one part of your body at any given time, and it can be hard to get out the door, but there’s magic in the misery. It can be tempting to take time off after completing your fall goal race, but if you stick with it, a strong winter training schedule can pay great dividends in spring. If you want to continue running through the winter months, whether simply to stay in shape, to reduce stress, or to train for a spring race, we’ve got a few great reasons to make this winter your favorite running time of year!
- Timing is more flexible: While many runners are up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat during much of the year, winter offers the chance to run at different times of day without the risk of overheating. Keep your schedule flexible, if you can, and try to run during your lunch hour or in the late afternoons if you haven’t fallen in love with the cold just yet. There’s not many times of year that you can head out for a run at lunch and return to the office not looking like a complete disaster, so take advantage of it!
- It’s a great excuse for a vacation: There’s nothing quite like a looming race to light a fire under your glutes, and we all need that in the winter! Choose a destination event in the early spring (March or April) that will provide some much-needed motivation. The idea of a vacation give you literal light at the end of the tunnel during the long winter months, and knowing that you’ll have to cover the distance in a few short months will help you get your rear in gear!
- There are unexpected health benefits: Winter running isn’t just something you’re suffering through to get to spring – it’s actively making you healthier and stronger! Did you know that you burn more calories working out in the cold than indoors? It’s true! Your body works harder to regulate its temperature, which means you’re getting some extra burn. Your heart also works harder, so regular exercisers with strong hearts will find that they get even stronger in the winter – meaning you’re primed for a PR in the spring!
- You can reconnect with your warmup: We all know that it stinks to take those first steps out the door and feel like you’ll never warm-up, let alone break a sweat. Winter is a great time to be reminded of the value of a true warmup, and we recommend warming up inside. Rather than waiting to warm up during your run, elevate your heart rate and get a little sweaty with some quick cardio moves like jumping jacks, high knees, or jump rope before you head out the door. You’ll find that the cold air feels a lot more refreshing if you’re already warm, and it’s not nearly as shocking to head out.
- Improve your mood: It’s tough to deal with the short, dreary days of winter, and many people find that their moods suffer during this season. We know that running increases endorphins and helps put us in a better mood, but during the winter, it also offers a great way to get some much needed vitamin D! There’s no better way to recharge during the day, and the colder temps mean the sweat situation will be a lot more manageable.
- Build discipline: Even the most dedicated runners struggle with motivation sometimes, and that’s because motivation is a fleeting, temporary feeling that inspires us to make a decision or affect change. Winter running is the perfect time to forget about being “motivated” and work on building your discipline instead. Discipline grows as we make consistent decisions about running, health, and anything else in life, but it’s like a muscle – it has to be worked in order to grow. You can start small with your winter running by simply establishing a plan to get out the door 3 times a week, no matter the pace or distance. As you become more accustomed to the weather, discipline and habit will take over and you might just find yourself heading out the door no matter what the temperature! You can do it!