There are a lot of awesome long distance races in the spring race season:
- The Love Half is in it’s second year this March.
- April Fool’s Half in Atlantic City.
- Broad Street in early May.
- Registration is even already open for the Oddyssey Half Marathon in June.
But running long distances in the spring means one big problem for a lot of people: training in the dead of winter. Running in the cold doesn’t have to be as bad as you think it is. Here’s a few tips to get you out there, whether you want to get a head start on your fitness for the year, or you want to PR those races.
Do A Gear Check
Gear is your number one priority when running in cold weather. While it can be expensive, it can mean the difference between being healthy or being sick/injured. If you ran all last year in the same pair of shoes, time to toss ‘em. Under armor is key to keeping yourself warm. On very cold days, make sure your neck is covered, as that can quickly warm the air your taking in. A pair of gloves and ear muffs, and you’re set to go. If you’ve never run in the cold before, with the right gear you’ll be surprised how quickly you warm up. That said…
Stay Close To Home
We all have good run days and bad run days. You never know just how far you’re going to be able to make it, even if you’re feeling great at the beginning. The difference between the spring/summer/fall and the winter, is when you stop running, it gets cold very fast. If you’re caught a couple miles from your home and you’re tired, your sweat won’t help you like it does in the summer. Stay within a mile or two of your home on colder days so you’re not stranded if you need a breather.
Use Your Best Judgment
If it’s cooler than 30 degrees outside, or it’s snowing or the ground is covered in ice, know exactly how much you can handle. It’s better to skip a day of training than risk getting sick or an injury. Even if you’ve got a brand new pair of running shoes with great tread, that won’t save you from possibly slipping on the ice. Ice can be treacherous, and one sprained ankle or injured knee will put you out for the season. Worst comes to worst, find an indoor track or bear with the treadmill at the gym.
Be Aware Of Your Breathing And Pace
You may not be able to run as quickly in the cold as you can in the warmth. If you don’t pace yourself, your body will be taking in air more quickly, and the more quickly it takes in cold air, the faster your lungs are going to start feeling the effects. Taking it easy and allowing the cold air time to warm up in your lungs by keeping an easy pace can save you from devastating coughs, bronchitis, or pneumonia.
Remember To Stay Hydrated
You may not feel like you’re sweating as much in the cold as you do in the heat, but you definitely are. Staying hydrated during physical activity is the number one most important rule. Even if you don’t feel thirsty or warm, keep water or a drink like Gatorade on you.
Stick It Out
Running in the winter can be brutal, but it’s an amazing ego boost, and a way to keep the endorphins running when the winter blues tend to kick in. Not only will you be fit and ready to go when the spring races come around, but you’ll find them so much easier as the weather gradually gets warmer. You’ll easily be set to train the remainder of the summer for the onslaught of fall races.