There are a lot of reasons to keep running during the winter; even though it’s cold and dark and…yatta, yatta, yatta. Complaints aside, and really, what does complaining get you anyway; so what do you get if you run during the winter months?
Improved mood from exercise. From personal experience, the cold and the dark sap me of all kinds of motivation and energy, seemingly wanting to sleep all the time…you would think I lived in Seattle! But running almost every day helps keep my mood even and gets me outside. In order to get this done, I use my lunchtime (40 minutes) or some time before the kids get home (30 minutes), or I get up in the morning and either jump on the treadmill or gear up and feel the morning chill on my face. Giving myself options for running time (or jogging, or walking or riding a bike) keeps me motivated and happy to exercise. In order to get warmed up in the morning, I do sun salutations (yoga) and then jump into a run, it gets my legs warmed up!
I get to eat Thanksgiving food and Christmas food without needing 16 New Year’s resolutions to exercise and lose weight. When I run, I am at a calorie deficit so rich foods don’t stick quite as long as they otherwise would. It’s nice to be able to enjoy winter food because I like winter food! Warm soup and bread, hot cocoa, casseroles and roasts and chili and…the list goes on. Running in the winter means I will still fit in my jeans after living in sweats.
Improved circulation that helps me stay warm. When I get up and move around, the cold chill in my bones leaves and is replaced by warm limbs and a warm core. Speed work, distance runs, brisk walks, and sunshine; all good for the soul.
So what do I do to make sure I run all winter? I join a 1/2 marathon training plan so that I get a nifty reminder every morning letting me know if it’s a workout or a rest day. I like this so far. It’s like having a uniform for work; takes a bit of the guesswork out of what I need to do for my workout on any given day. Letting go a little bit of some control lets me simply enjoy the shoe tying and the workout. Ultimately, the goal is to finish the Carlsbad 1/2 Marathon in under 2 hours. The race is the end of January so I am guaranteed to run for the next three months!
Winter time is a challenge but it’s no more challenging then simply getting out of bed in the morning, or dealing with sick kids, or bathing the dog. You commit and you do it. Having a goal at the end of part of it, is like icing on the frost bitten cake.
Happy running and goal setting!