Winter Running is on!

This is not the typical January for me. Granted, it’s the first one since my cross fit debut last March and may account for my somewhat adhoc running pattern this month. Then, there’s the cold weather, which truth be told hasn’t been too insane so far with little to no snow really except for that one freak storm in November last year. Knock on wood! They say. While getting in those runs have been a bit of a challenge, oddly enough I have no qualms as once again the Boston Marathon sits on the horizon with just over two and a half months left to go .

My mileage has seen a decline this month primarily because of the cold weather and associated scheduling conflicts, which has resulted in an average of 25 miles per week. Weekend long runs have been the most consistent. Fortunately, I had decided at the beginning of the year that I was not going to hold fast to any particular training plan as I have done in the past. My road to Boston in April is really simplified this year with focus placed on my long runs and on getting a couple speed workouts in during the week. Of course I don’t recommend this to anyone running Boston. For my part, I determined a more relaxed strategy this year based on my three previous years of preparation that resulted in less than favorable outcomes. So yes, there’s a bit of frustration in my deliberate non-planning, but I figure four times in a row affords me that leeway. In fact, I plan on not stressing with running this year at all and just enjoying it as much as I can.

With no hard and fast training plans, I’ve been able to relax my usual hectic schedule somewhat and enjoy cross training a bit more. I even had a workout challenge going on for a couple of weeks, streaks and all.

My long runs though, have seen me running solo, and with other runners, all over the city from Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn, over our bridges; through our parks; alongside our waterways; via some trails; and around our neighborhoods. I’ve increased mileage incrementally and this past Saturday I ran 18.6 miles from Manhattan to Brooklyn in what started out as freezing temps but progressed to really great running weather by the time the sun came out. A few of us braved the cold and hammered out those miles and rewarded ourselves with a post run brunch. All things remaining equal, I’ll be heading out this coming Saturday for 20 miles. I can only hope the weather cooperates as we’re in full on winter running mode in these parts.

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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