This winter, I’m really not sure what my exercise is going to look like. I really hope to start running soon, (read: after maternity leave when I feel like maybe I have my life back together) but I’m not sure how often it’s going to happen or when I’m going to start racing again. I’m thinking some cross training at the gym is going to be my best friend for a while, until I can build my endurance back up. And maybe my courage. Okay, I said it. I’m a little bit terrified of running again because oh I don’t know, I haven’t RUN since February?! That’s okay though, there’s a starting point for everything. I’m excited to hop back to it, because I always felt like a large part of ME was the time I spent running and setting goals that pertained to running. Plus, I want Adeline to have a hot mom. Or maybe that’s just my husband?
Unfortunately, Exercising in the winter time is the pits. It really can be the worst thing ever, and leaves you wanting to do anything other than hit the pavement to torch a few cals. And while doing something like a long run in the cold is 10 billion times easier than doing it in the heat of the summer, it can still be tough if you aren’t both mentally and physically prepared. During marathon training, I remember many a Saturday mornings where even just the thought of getting out of my toasty warm bed to go run was enough to make me second guess my hobby! A hobby that inevitably included LOTS of time outside no matter how mother nature decided to behave. #doyourlongrunordieonraceday
Here are a few of my most memorable FREEZING COLD races:
St. Jude Marathon (that never happened) 2013
My first marathon was a big fat no-show. Due to a bad ice storm that left sidewalks and parts of the race course covered in black ice, the race was called off the night before. So, the morning of, I went ahead and ran a small section of the course. And wore approximately 30 layers! (Thankfully, I was able to sneak into another marathon a few weeks later and it ended up being warm enough to wear shorts!)
Hot Chocolate Nashville 2014
I’m pretty sure a part of me died that morning. It was in the 20’s, and if you weren’t careful crossing the finish line you’d slip on ice. Also, my hot chocolate froze. NBD.
Little Rock Half Marathon 2014
I’ve never wanted to cry both before, during, and after a race as much as I did on this race day. It poured down rain at the start, rained and “thunder-sleeted” the entire race, then an ice storm came in that night. In fact, the full marathon was actually cancelled before a lot of runners could finish due to said “thunder-sleet + lightening.” Oh yea, and during the race, the temperature continually dropped. Great fun!
Hot Chocolate Nashville 2015
Once again, the Hot Chocolate Nashville race was freezing cold. (And yet tall dude behind me somehow survived in shorts.) I should just stop hoping for this race to be warm, because it is destined to be cold every.single.time. Once again, I layered up, and enjoyed myself just fine! Oh, AND I found out I was pregnant 3 days later!
Point being, running in the cold definitely sucks, but it has proven to yield some of my favorite memories! Recently, the PowerBar Team reached out to me and asked if I would share some tips for training in the winter months, courtesy of PowerBar Team Elite athlete and American long distance runner Josh Cox. I found them to be super helpful, and think you’ll enjoy them too!
- Pre-run warm up and snack: Your muscles require more energy for a cold weather workout. You’ll need a good source of protein and carbs before, during and after. Pre-workout, I like to grab a PowerBar Performance Bar and during a long run I rely on PowerGels. While you’re snacking, start stretching and moving. You’ll want your body to be nice and loose before you hit the outdoors. If you require a quick indoor treadmill warm-up, go for it. That will help get your body temperature up.
- Wear the right gear: Layers are everything! Start with a base of tight compression clothing to keep the blood moving. Throw some athletic clothing on top of that along with socks, gloves, head and neck gear to keep you warm. You can always take off layers mid-run but you can’t add them!
- Grab a friend: What better motivation than having someone right along side you? If you’re going to be miserable, be miserable together! Jokes aside, I love running with a group especially during the winter. You’ll take turns pushing each other and having someone to meet will keep you accountable and on track with your fitness goals.
- Take that first step: Often times the biggest roadblock to our fitness isn’t the elements, it’s our mindset. On my worst days, I just lace up the shoes and get out the door, “just run a mile” I’ll tell myself – once I’m out the door it’s easy. The key to training, and life, is taking that first step. The first step is the best step; it’s where intent meets action. There is no such thing as luck when we’re developing our fitness, it’s a grind, it’s hard work, it’s getting out the door… and, it’s worth it. Like life, we get out what we put in.
- Have something to look forward to: Whether a warm bath or nice meal, have something to look forward to when you’re training session is over. This will help keep you motivated. It’s also important to always keep your goals in mind. At times, winter training can get rough but if you’re focused on an upcoming event you’ll be that much more motivated to get out the door.
- Proper recovery: Post-run nutrition is key. A nice massage never hurts either. Immediately after your run, get calories in via quality protein and carb sources. If you’re not ready for a big meal, grab a banana and have a protein shake or PowerBar ProteinPlus 20g Bar with some fruit… and something warm!
Josh Cox is a 4-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, 3-time National Team Member and the American Record Holder in the 50k. In 2009 and 2011 his 50k were the fastest in the world. Here he dishes advice for your next race.
How do you exercise during the winter? What do you do to prepare or stay motivated? Do you have any winter races planned? Tell me about them so I can live vicariously through you!