Tis the season for inclement weather!
It sounds like nearly every part of the country has already seen its fair share of snow, ice, freezing rain, or frigid temperatures. While this kind of weather certainly makes heading out for a run more challenging, it (usually) doesn’t have to stop you from getting your mileage. Additionally, slippery, wet, and cold conditions greatly increase the risk of injury. Here are a few tips and tricks that help me cope with nasty winter weather…
Get some traction
When there’s a layer of snow and ice covering the ground, heading out for a run can be a slippery endeavor. Luckily, you can easily transform your trusty Mizuno shoes into ice-gripping extensions of your feet. There’s a product called Icespike (www.icespike.com), which is a set of specially designed screws that you screw directly into the soles of your shoes. These will drastically reduce your odds of slipping and make an icy road feel like a dirt trail. Prefer the do-it-yourself route? Well then, head down to your local hardware store and pick up (at least) twenty-four 3/8” galvanized sheet metal screws and screw twelve of them into the perimeter of the sole of each shoe. Bam! Instant traction.
Don’t be afraid of the treadmill
When the weather gets particularly nasty, or you need to do a serious workout, don’t hesitate to hit the treadmill. While I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill under normal circumstances, desperate times call for desperate measures. Trying to run speed workouts in snow and ice can be pretty risky (even in shoes with traction), so the treadmill is your best alternative. My two favorite treadmill workouts are tempo runs (for specific endurance) and short hill repeats (for speed development). For the hill repeats, I simply ramp the treadmill up to about 10% incline and set the speed to something “hard but doable” for that incline. I sprint on the treadmill for 30 seconds then step off the belt for 30 seconds, 15 to 20 times. It’s a simple yet challenging workout that allows you to safely develop your speed and power even though you’re stuck indoors.
Embrace technology when working out inside
Let’s be honest, being stuck on a treadmill for miles is just plain boring. Luckily, we live in an age of futuristic technology that allows us the ability to entertain ourselves in nearly any situation. As you know, that smartphone in your pocket can do a lot more than just make phone calls. You can use it to listen to your favorite playlist or Pandora, watch a new movie, listen to an audiobook, or catch up on your favorite TV series (Game of Thrones, anyone?). Or, you could always be old-fashioned and recruit a friend to occupy the treadmill next to you and let your conversation help pass the time. Company always makes the time pass faster!
Make recovery a higher priority
Winter brings with it an increased risk of injuries for us runners. Cold temperatures make our muscles tighter, running on snow and ice can alter our gait, and, obviously, falling becomes much more likely. To combat this increased risk, recovery and strength training should become an even more important part of your regimen. Stretch before and after your runs, ice those sore spots, and break out the foam roller. Having strong hip and core muscles will help you maintain your form and stay upright in slippery conditions, so put extra emphasis on taking the time to do some specific hip and core work a few times a week. I’m a big fan of Pilates to keep my abs, hips, glutes, and lower back strong enough to withstand the rigors of winter running.
When you wake up in the morning to find a fresh blanket of snow covering the ground, you could react by either a) being upset about how the snow is going to muck up your run, or b) take a moment to appreciate how lovely the scene is and reflect on how lucky you are to get to go out and experience it firsthand. There is a beauty that is unique to winter. As runners we have the opportunity to use our sport as a way get outside and soak-in this unique beauty.
Well, that’s it for today folks. Hopefully you can use some or all of these tips to make your winter training happier and healthier. Enjoy the holidays!
Renee Metivier Baillie