The Winter Truth to Running

source: runnersworld.com

I sure I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but really the season just begs for it and there’s really no nice way to put it. Winter is the worst season for running and trying to get your training going. The younger folks would put it charmingly by saying: Winter sucks balls! So unrefined. But it certainly captures the feeling. If anything, it makes one’s New Year running goals that much harder to accomplish with the arctic hole that is February upon us.

Suffice it to say, January running has been hard in these parts. Sure we’ve seen worse, and while that’s not really helpful right now, we can only be thankful for small mercies; who knows what this month will bring. I get chills just thinking about it. Fear not though, all is not lost, it is possible for your running to survive and even thrive in these chilly temps. Here’s how:

  • Commit to start /stay running. No matter what happens outside (50° or -5°), you must determine where you stand and what your goal is. Only then can you go about with ways on how to get there come rain, snow or shine.
  • Come up with a training plan based on your goal, detailing how many days per week, the mileage, and type of runs (interval, tempo etc.) you’ll be doing. Stick to it as much as possible.
  • January is a good month to engage in a running challenge to keep you motivated, rack up some mileage, and to just get you out and running. It’s also pretty cold around that time and you’ll need reasons and motivation to get those miles in. Which leads to my next point about getting connected.
  • Whether online or physically, find a running group or running support to keep you accountable and help you out on those cold runs, long runs, and just-not-feeling-it runs. Group runs can help to harness your motivation and energy, and provide feedback and encouragement as many members share similar goals.
  • The gym is a great back-up plan for those days when you really can’t make it out. Additionally, it provides the opportunity to get in some cross training and work-out variety, which will only add to your running efficiency. Add to that the new year environment at these establishments, where everyone is actively involved in pursuing their fitness goals, and what you have is the perfect opportunity for running growth.
  • Lastly, sign up for a few races during these cold months. It’ll keep you running, motivated, and competitive, even if it’s just with yourself.

These strategies have worked for me in the past, and so this year I’ve recommitted to them and found that this past January has yielded the most miles since I started a few years ago. That is not to say I’m having a stellar winter, the night is still young as the saying goes, only that maybe, I’m finally perfecting the art of giving winter blues and frustrations a positive outlet. And, so can you!

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January Miles: Off to a Running Start

Prior to coming to this great country, I’ve always been a big fan of the beginning of the new year. New Year, new opportunities, a fresh start, another chance to try again, and so on. Being from the Caribbean, the weather was never something I dreaded or even concerned myself with too much, as except for the threat of hurricanes, which thank God has always escaped my beautiful island home of Trinidad, we were pretty much a fair-weather people. So much so that we’ve coined the term “God is a Trini” and readily bandy it about at the drop of a hat. Of course that all changed when I lost my mind and moved to The Big A. I’m kidding of course, about the losing my mind bit anyway, though many people have suggested just that when wondering what on earth possessed me to move here, and well.. you almost have me there. However, in spite of the brutish cold weather when winter rolls around, this city holds a strange allure for me. Maybe it’s the big-city-bright-lights appeal, or, maybe it’s simply its endearing ability to make me feel right at home as part of the Caribbean diaspora within an eclectic mix of people from just about every major country on earth. I can belong here – in this melting pot of diversity – I can be angry, laugh, love, breathe, complain and have my voice heard. More important though, I can run and make a difference. And that, makes all the difference in the world to the place or places I call home.

So despite the wintry conditions we’ve experienced thus far, my running has managed to prevail. In fact, January may go on record as my most accomplished month of running, minus racing, all things remaining constant by the month’s end. To be fair, belonging to a running community has added tremendous motivation, inspiration and accountability to my already fastidious ways. Though I rather doubt, if left to my own devices, I wouldn’t be braving chilly night runs or escaping to other boroughs in minus temps for a weekend long run. Nor would I be running through snow and ice to rack up mileage. It is the rare combination of like-minded individuals, marathon training, January challenges, and new year goals that have all collaborated to make me into an almost super athlete this month, and, I can only hope, this year. Maybe this is the best reason of all for staying here, I’m part of an amazing runner-friendly community and it would be tough to give that up.

As it is, I’ve managed to get out there sun, snow, or rain for all but four days since January 1. As part of a group, I’ve participated in tempo runs, interval training, long runs and shorter runs. Running alone, I’ve focused more on building mileage and hill work. But hold on, we’re only three weeks into the year and have a long way to go yet. Looking ahead, this path is only sustainable if I remain committed to my group work and the shared values of my running community. For sure it is a helluva lot easier having others in your corner to bitch with about weather issues and the like, especially when they are as affected by said issues. May the bitching and running continue! 😉

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