How to Run through the Winter

The way to run through winter is…

The Treadmill…

Most people know, but I actually don’t hate the treadmillAll joking aside, there are other ways to get through the winter if you’re keen on running outdoors.  Last week was cold.  It was between 10-20 almost all week.  This last time last week, half of the east coast was canceled due to a snowstorm.  Thankfully, this week is better (for running).

As someone who went to college and worked in Upstate NY where there is often 2 feet of snow, I also understand everything is relative.  What is cold to someone living in Manitoba is different than Key West and there is no time for judgment.  If someone feels cold, they are and if you argue with them…it does nothing for anyone.

Personally, I’ve lived in several states that handle winter differently!  Both Virginia and New Jersey everything generally shuts down with any snow. (like last week)!  It never snowed while I lived in Texas but I do know several years ago, there was a huge ice storm.

In Upstate NY, it didn’t matter the conditions.  Heck, even a whiteout or blizzard isn’t enough to close down school, classes, or work.  Each area of the world is equipped to handle different situations.  Wherever you live, you are generally most assimilated to that weather and life.

hiking home from swim practice after this happened…during practice

With anything, it’s important to run and train smartly.

If you ever feel unsafe, run inside or rest.  There is never shame in that.

(In college, I slipped and fell on ice.  It resulted in a fractured humorous, and I wasn’t even running outside…I was just walking!)

Last week, I did my workouts on the treadmill because I was just happier inside.  Not happy or overjoyed but happier to run inside.

Another fun fact about winter training is that all of my PRs now are currently from winter races.

February 2015 Phoenix Marathon: 3:14.59

January 2016: Carlsbad Half Marathon 1:22.57

February 2016: Flower Show 5k (18:13) 

So thinking out loud, I’ve created a few tips for running through the winter.   

First and most importantly: Don’t be afraid to adjust your workout:

A few years ago, I was visiting friends in Rochester the weekend of my last long run. Rochester ended up getting a massive blizzard and running outside was unimaginable.  (You know it’s a problem when things in Rochester close!).

I ran my last 20 mile run on the treadmill (see why I don’t hate the treadmill).  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t desirable either.  Running outside would have been unsafe and hazardous.  If I hadn’t felt good on the treadmill, I probably would have skipped the run altogether.  Luckily, I felt fine.

Prevent Sliding with Yak Trax:

You will be amazed at what a difference Yak Trax make while running outdoors.  You’ll be able to grip the ground and ice much easier and stay safe.  I cannot stress how awesome they are (no they aren’t paying me to tell you).

Don’t Forget: Main Roads are Plowed First: 

The main roads are going to be plowed before local roads and sidewalks.  Who knows, your sidewalk may never be plowed and may clear up when the snow melts.  Being smart with how and where you run is important.  Always run on the opposite side of traffic and don’t run down the middle of the road.

But Certain local roads are cleared Quickly Too:

My high school was located in a neighborhood, and the roads to and from the school were cleared quickly.  During winter storms I could often run a 1-2 mile loop around my high school.  Boring?  Yes, but if you like outdoors then that was your best bet.

Wind Protection:

Even when the temperatures are brutal outside, the wind factor can play a bigger role. Layering appropriately is important.  It’s not just about “wearing as many layers as possible”. 

Recently, I learned that Vaseline can be an excellent protection against the cold and wind. It’s waterproof and helps block the wind too.  I don’t know how I didn’t know that!

Rain and Wintery Mix Protection:

You can prepare for the snow but don’t forget about the rain. In my opinion, winter rain is one of the toughest elements to run through.  It’s important to appropriately layer.  My personal favorite jacket is from Gore-Tex.  I’ve run through 30-degree torrential downpours, and my long sleeve underneath has stayed completely dry.  While it is pricey, it’s worth the cost if you are running outdoors in the winter.

shamrock half marathon me running 2017

With that, winter running can be an enjoyable experience.  Training through the winter can set you up for Spring PRs.  At this particular point all of my PRs are in the winter, however, I have PRed in the spring too ha!

RelatedPosts: 

How to Race in Inclement Weather 

Why I don’t hate the Treadmill

Tips for Morning Workouts

Questions for you:

What are some tips you have to train through the winter?

Did you get snow last week?  How much?

Runners You Might Encounter this Winter

Runners You Might Encounter this Winter

Last summer I wrote a post about “summer runners” and many people identified with one or more of the runners.  Thinking out loud, now that the season has somewhat changed, it’s time for another edition with:

Runners You Might Encounter this Winter:

Weather Checking William

This person is never without their technology and they are tracking the weather 100% of the time.  Even during a run, they’ll know the exact precipitation.  You can always depend on them to know when the best time of day, sunrise, sunset, wind direction, humidity level and every other weather condition you might need.

Shirtless Sam (Winter Edition):

You’ll see this runner always wearing the least amount of clothing as possible. It could be -10 degrees and a blizzard, they are still trecking along in short shorts, a tank top or possibly shirtless.  What’s even more interesting is usually this person has minimal body fat…how they continue to keep warm is a mystery to us all.

The Running Sauna

I will admit this is me all the time.  I would rather be overdressed all of the time than be cold.  The running sauna is typically wearing 5 more layers than necessary.  Even though it’s a “warm” 20 degrees, they might be wearing 5-10 layers.  In fact, their running stride more resembles a waddle due to the layers.

Complaining Courtney

You ask this person to run during every single season and every single season they complain.
It’s too hot..
It’s too cold.
Oh no, rain. 
Oh no, I can’t run…it’s absolutely perfect conditions… 

If there is a will to complain they will find it.

Treadmilling Timothy (Winter Edition)

Living a life opposite of the summer treadmill runner, the winter treadmill runner doesn’t do cold. During the winter, they disappear and retire to the treadmill.  They are most comfortable there and you know you won’t do any group runs with them until April.  If you are looking for a new TV show to watch, they can probably give you a good recommendation.

Questions for you:
What type of winter runner are you?

Broad Street 10 Miler (1:01.59)

My training for April was erratic at best.  Originally, I had hoped the Broad Street 10 miler would be my Spring goal race. Then my training for April altered my plans, and Broad Street simply became a “make it through race”.

As the race drew closer, the weather forecast became progressively worse.  By the evening before, the race was predicted to be in the 40s and pouring rain.  It’s weather I know too well, and as most people know, Shamrock broke me.

I kept my head up high, and my goal became to finish and do well.  My PR from Broad Street was a 1:05.20 in 2014.  In 2015, I ran it in 1:05.39.  Despite the rain and erratic training, I was determined to set a course PR.I knew my fitness was much better than previous years.

Both Tim’s parents, as well as mine, made the drive to run so we had a full house.  On Sunday morning, we woke up and drove to the start.  My husband dropped us off, we went to the bathroom and headed to the start.

broad street 10 miler 1 dads

As a last minute decision, I opted to use my Gortex jacket to stay dry.  I had no plans to drop the jacket and pinned the bib on the outside.

We stood around, and I was drenched at the start.  I didn’t want a repeat of Shamrock, and I was nervous the race might be.  We started the race and as usual, the first mile was elbow to elbow.  In a 40,000 person ten milers there is no such thing as personal space.

I saw several friends, and we hit the first mile in 6:05.  I thought: Woah nelly that’s probably too fast.

The second mile went without too much, excitement and I ran it in 6:17.  I doubt myself a lot, and I panicked I was going to positive split like Shamrock.

My goal of the third mile was just to make it through.  I wanted to see where I was time wise for the 5k.  I hit the 3rd mile in 18:30 and the 5k in 19:10.  I was pleased and began to focus on everything else.

Nothing of note happened during the 3rd and 4th mile.  The pack I was running with dropped me, and I found myself alone.  I grabbed Gatorade and hit the 4th mile in 25:45.

When I got the 5th mile, the owner of the running store I work at cheered for me.  I gave a meek wave which was a cross between: will he judge me if I wave and my hands are too cold.

The fifth mile of Broad Street always goes by the fastest because it’s cut up by the turn around city hall.  By the time you’re around city hall, you are at the 6th mile.  I ran the 5th mile in 6:07 and was surprised and pleased.

Both the 6-7th mile went by with nothing eventful.  I ran mile 6 in 6:12 and 7 in 6:11.

During the 8th mile, I noticed many men beginning to pass me.  Was I fading? Was I dying? No…they just had more energy I guess.  I was running two of my faster miles.

I nicknamed miles 8-10 the rush of dudes. 

The rush of dudes was a strange occurrence because not one woman passed me but at least 30 men did.

During the last mile, I saw it would be an extremely close push to a 1:02.  I decided I might have it in me and went for it.  Keep in mind; I have zero kick.  In fact, I might go slower when I try to kick.

Broad Street 10 miler

Via Broad Street Flickr (You can see me tucked behind the male in the blue/black singlet)

I finished the last mile in 6:07 and crossed the finish line in 1:02.01.

I was 34th female overall and 14th in my age group.  Since I didn’t age group place, my gun time was 1:01.59 so I guess that counts.

At the finish line via Instagram

At the finish line via Instagram

Thoughts:

I’m pleased with this race and have no complaints.  The weather was awful for everyone, and as I said yesterday, you can’t control the weather.  I’ve been 3/3 of bad weathered major Spring Races.  It was a course PR of 3.5, and if I had run an extra 5k, I do believe I would have Pred.

Questions for you:

What is the biggest race you’ve run?

Do you have a good kick? 

How to Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions

My last three major Spring Races have been in crappy conditions.  Either it was pouring rain, wind gusts of 50MPH or both.  I know I’m in the best shape of my life, but you have to race for the conditions, and can’t control the weather.

How to Race in Unfavorable Conditions

The Shamrock half marathon was 40s pouring rain and windy

The April Fools Half Marathon was windy and had gusts of up to 50MPH

The Broad Street 10 miler was raining

I’m beginning to think you should avoid racing with me if you want to run in good conditions. 

I decided to think about ways and techniques I’ve learned to:

 Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions:
Rain:
  • Wrap yourself in trash bags. The goal is to keep yourself as dry as possible before the race.  Trash bag your shoes and your entire self.  At Broad Street, several people passed me at the end still wearing their trash bags.
  • Wear form fitting clothing and avoid cotton. The more tightly fitting the clothing, the less it’s going to chafe, rub and become a wet soggy mess.
  • Thin socks: This is a must. The goal is to keep your feet as dry as possible.  There are a lot of thin socks, but my favorite are the low cut CEP compression because they hug your feet.
  • Hats: Before this spring I was never a hat person.  They never stayed on my head.  To keep the rain out of my eyes, I’ve experimented with hats.  I don’t have a recommendation as my favorite hat so far is from the Shamrock half marathon.
  • While I don’t race with a phone, I know many racers do. Put it in a Ziploc bag to make sure it doesn’t get water damage.
Wind:

The problem with races along the shore in the Spring is the wind.  Races along the coast are typically flat, but you never know what kind of wind there will be.  Except the Carlsbad half marathon on the West, Coast…that was a windy shore race that wasn’t flat.

  • Try to run with a group. Running with a group isn’t always possible, but it makes running a lot easier both mentally and physically to run with a pack in the wind.  You also see other racers are battling the same elements.
  • Turn your head to the side to breathe. If you’re running through a headwind, turning your head to the side to breath makes it a lot easier.  I didn’t know that until this year!
  • Invest in a good piece of wind resistant clothing. The wind can be piercing and chill you to the bone.  Combined with rain, it is one of most undesirable weather conditions.  Try a lightweight windproof jacket.  I recommend using as much tight fitting clothing as possible so that it doesn’t blow around.

I’m not getting paid to promote any of these pieces of clothing, but they are items I’ve had success with:

Gortex Running Jacket ($249.99)

This is the most expensive piece of running apparel I own, but it’s worth it.  It kept me dry at Broad Street and kept the wind out.  If you can, I would recommend investing in a Gortex Jacket.  I never knew how amazing they were until I did.

CEP Low Compression Socks ($20):

I like the low cut socks because I can use compression sleeves as well.  My shoe size and calf size are different so the high socks won’t fit my feet and calves.  The socks themselves are thin, and if they do get wet, they won’t weigh you down.

The best piece of advice for any racing is to stay positive.  At the end of the day, you can’t control the weather.  You have to make the best of the situation, and if you’re able to think positively, you’ll be able

Questions for you:

How do you race in unfavorable conditions?

What is the worst weather you’ve run in? 

Things that Got me Through the Winter

Guess what my blogging friends?

These are the last few days of Winter!   Insert 20 dancing emoji woman here.

dancing emoji

Long story short, if you lived on the east coast this winter was rough.

Running outside was rough. 

Walking outside was rough. 

 

December and January weren’t too terrible.  Then in February it got very cold, very fast.  After I got back from Upstate NY it just kept getting colder and colder.  I honestly felt like I never left that area.  The days we received snow were the better days because it meant it was warmer and less windy…

Now that I’m done complaining about the weather I thought I would talk about some of things that got me through the winter this year!

None of these products were sponsored or afflicant links.  Here are some of the top things I think got my through the winter.

Northface Jacket

I bought this jacket is November.  I didn’t think it would become my best purchase of the season.  It’s warm and I have no regrets.  It was staple jacket and most people at work don’t remember a time I wasn’t wearing it.  (No really…).  I like to add photos of my jacket in action and on dates so here we go.

My jacket and Theresa.

My jacket and Theresa.

My jacket and Christine

My jacket and Christine

My jacket and DadLOLZ

My jacket and DadLOLZ

Basically if you have seen me in the last 3 months, it’s probably been in this jacket.

Injinji wool Socks

injinji wool socks

These babies are long and warm (TWSS).  They kept me feet warm but also came above my leggings so that my ankles didn’t get cold.  I wish I had more pairs but alas Injinji was sold out when I went online.  They are my favorite sock in the history of socks.

Space Heater:

Without my personal space heater, I would have some miserable days.  The personal space heater allows me to control the temperature around me without causing everyone else to live in a sauna.

 

Two Vacations in the winter:

As most people know, T was deployed during most of the winter.  It was a cold, miserable and lonely month.  Having two vacations with friends really helped propel me through the months of January and February.

The end of January, I went to Rochester and visted Laura, Heather and Brittany.  Hashtag Dream team (#DreamTeam),

How did this even happen?

How did this even happen?

Then obviously at the end of February I ran my Marathon in sunny Phoenix.

Party foul...my eyes are closed but everyone else looks nice so this photo won!

Party foul…my eyes are closed but everyone else looks nice so this photo won!

I think having things to look forward too really kept me balanced and ready to propel through the winter.

Questions for you:

How did you get through the winter this year?

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