5 Tips for Winter Running

Learn to love chilly weather training with advice from an elite runner

Winter can be a tough season for runners who train outside, especially for those like me living in a snowy town like Mammoth Lakes. But, with the proper gear and perspective, the chillier months of the year can be a really enjoyable season of training. Snow, wind, and rain can put a damper on getting outside for your daily run. But, instead of skipping out on winter workouts, use the following tips to embrace the change of season and learn how to love winter running.

1. Invest in the Right Gear 
High-quality running attire might not be cheap, but any cold weather runner will tell you that it’s definitely worth it.  When the temperatures start to drop, there’s no doubt that it’s a good idea to invest in some quality layers. So, what are some key pieces of clothing? First, make sure you invest in a good pair of gloves, a headband or hat to cover your ears, and a pair of thick socks. Our bodies stay warmest when we keep our feet, ears, and hands heated. Two other key pieces of cold-weather running gear include a warm, waterproof jacket and, for the chilliest of chilly days, instant hand warmers like Heatmax HotHands.

2. Meet Up With Friends
Training with a team means having a group of friends to bear the brutal weather with. Having a few friends to talk and joke around with can help lighten the dim mood that sometimes comes with chilly weather training. Plus, you’ll feel more motivated to get out the door knowing your friends need your support, too. On the weekends treat yourself to breakfast, coffee, or a delicious cup of hot chocolate at your favorite spot afterwards. Warming up after a chilly run with friends is always fun.

3. Run Slow
As a new member of Mammoth Track Club, Deena Kastor (my teammate) and Andrew Kastor (my coach) have shared some helpful winter-weather running tips with me. One is to run slower. Winter training requires a different approach compared to training in warmer weather. “Running slowly and easily allows the body to burn a higher percentage of fat vs. carbohydrate by remaining in the “aerobic” effort zone,” Coach Kastor explained.

4. Be Flexible 
Some runners like to train in the morning while others enjoy working out at the end of the day, but sometimes winter training requires more flexibility. Recently, my team was going to do a workout at our usual location but because it was icy we had to relocate. Flexibility is a key component to a successful winter training routine. It could mean changing up your workout, changing when you run, or even using the treadmill if the weather is beyond bearable.

5. Be Positive
I cannot say it enough: positivity changes everything. Having a positive perspective on training and running, regardless of the weather, is probably the most important aspect of all. Instead of focusing on the weather, focus on your health, your fitness, and the wonderful fact that you have been blessed with the ability to run. Sometimes a change in perspective is all that you need to enjoy running in the winter. Plus, a positive attitude during training will carry over to race day. Being confident and successful in training means maintaining a great attitude no matter what the weather is like.

Elite runner Lauren Jimison trains with Mammoth Track Club in Mammoth Lakes, CA. She aims to be a fast competitor on the roads and will compete in the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. She blogs at laurenloverun.wordpress.com.