So you’ve been able to stay consistent through the fall with your fitness routine. What happens to your enthusiasm when the days get shorter, the mornings are cold and dark, the winter wind starts to blow etc.? It’s natural to feel less than excited to get out and run at this time of year. But the winter can be a fabulous time to enjoy running. Look for a friend who may also need help staying focused, join a run clinic, set a goal for yourself to complete a distance by a specific time or consider signing up for one of the many fun road race that can be found in our community. Often we convince ourselves that we are just “too tired” to run. My strategy is to tell myself that I’ll just do 10 minutes and call it a day. Chances are that the 10 minutes will turn into 15, the 15 then becomes 20 and before you know it……I’m sure you get the picture! So there is nothing wrong with playing little games to help conquer the negative voice in your head.
Cold weather running has it’s own set of challenges so be prepared. Make that first winter run as pleasant as it can be by staying comfortable and safe. Stay hydrated just as you would during the summer. Don’t assume that because it’s not hot that you aren’t losing fluids through perspiration. Dress in layers so that as the body warms with your effort you have the option to take something off. Because your core does warm up, try starting your run feeling “slightly” cool. It’s important to avoid excessive perspiration that could eventually leave you feeling really chilled at the end of the run. Clothing that promotes “wicking” or moving the moisture away from your skin to be evaporated is a great investment. These garments can be used for most outdoor activities.
Common sense prevails with the last few tips for safety. Avoid running in the dark without a buddy (or two!), choose routes that are plowed such as Bayfront trail during the snowy season, start slow and give yourself extra time for the muscles to warm up gradually and at the end of your run be sure to change out of your wet clothing as soon as possible.
In closing, if you have been running through the warm weather, don’t give up now. Stay focused, set a goal, find a run buddy and challenge yourself to a winter of outdoor activity!! It’s a great way to find some inexpensive fun and maybe enjoy the benefits of sunshine and fresh air.