Tips from Elite Runners on How to Train During Winter

Many athletes think that the winter season is the perfect time to pack up their workout gear and hibernate. However, for elite runners, the cold season is not a time to slack off on training.

“Many runners simply take the winter off, but this is a huge mistake,” USATF-certified running coach Jason Fitzgerald said. Barely training at all prevents you from making new progress by the time spring arrives. In fact, winter is the perfect time to build a solid foundation for running.

So how do the elite runners do it? Here are some tips from some of the best runners on how to train during winter! [TWEET THIS!]

Workout smart

Before heading out for your run in the snow, remember to check the weather and road conditions. Your workout routine should depend on your environment. Essentially, it depends on your goals for your training.

If I need to hit specific paces in a challenging workout, I often opt for the indoor track or treadmill,” Matt Pelletier, an Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier, said. However, if you’re aiming to accomplish easy mileage, you can run outside as long as the roads aren’t too slippery. “Sometimes it’s unavoidable, especially if the conditions are dangerously icy,” Asics marathoner Sara Hall said. Remember, a day on the treadmill beats forced time off to recover from an injury.

Don’t compare the numbers

Running in snow is a great strength workout and can be mentally refreshing. However, don’t compare your numbers during winter training with your performance in spring or summer.

Professional Triathlete Doug Maclean suggests staying in the present and maintaining a positive mindset. Stay focused on improving and pushing yourself a little bit further each day. Hall also advises taking extra time to warm up and stretch dynamically pre-run.

Leave your comfort zone

Maintaining your focus and drive in the winter can be tough. The cold and short days can really mess with your motivation. However, athletes must remind themselves that progress happens after hard work.

Finding an alternative to the norm, something new and different from the rigor and demands of the running season, is key,” Team North Face Ultrarunner Rob Krar said. Runners can explore other workout routines like trail running and even ski mountaineering. The sport is not only a great strength workout for your legs but also for your core muscles!

Dress warm

When it comes to running outdoors during the winter, dressing warm is vital. [TWEET THIS!] However, for long marathon training runs, bulky layers can be bothersome. “The biggest thing I’ll make sure I have is something over my head and ears, like the Asics Felicity Fleece Headwarmer,” Hall said.

2016 Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier Des Linden advices runners to dress for the weather. Another tip is to go for your runs a little bit later in the day when temperatures are warmer.

Toughen up

Most athletes tend to focus on their strongest sport during the cold season. [TWEET THIS!] However, professional triathlete AJ Baucco believes that winter is the perfect time to work on your limiters.

Use the winter season to get out of your comfort zone and focus on your weaknesses. By the time summer races begin, you’ll find yourself stronger from your training and out of the plateau!

Eat smarter

Your physical performance during training is only as good as the fuel that you put into your body. Though you may feel sluggish in the chilly weather, it is paramount that you maintain a well-balanced diet.

In addition, don’t forget to hydrate and drink lots of fluids during and post-runs. [TWEET THIS!] “Most people don’t realize that they are still losing quite a bit of sweat even when it’s colder out,” Flanagan said.

Share your progress

Connecting with other runners is a great way to keep your motivation up. There are online communities where athletes of all ages share their progress and encourage each other to power through the frigid weather!

Knowing that I’m going to post my run results afterward helps me get going,” [TWEET THIS] Oiselle-sponsored pro-marathoner Kara Goucher said. Strava is a great site that you can join and share your daily progress with others!

Though training in the winter isn’t ideal, it is a great time to push your limits, break out of your comfort zones, and up your running game. It is your chance to set out on countless adventures and put all your cross-training during the summer to the ultimate test. Remember, if you want to be prepared for an event in spring, then you can’t stop logging valuable miles in winter!

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