Winter can cause a serious interruption to a runner’s perfect fall rhythm. Even for those living in mild climates, the days are shorter, and it's common to come home just a few minutes before sunset without time to fit in a solid run before it gets dark. In some cases, a cool night run might be a good option, but for some it just isn’t safe. So what’s a runner to do? Is it possible to not only maintain stamina through the winter months, but to excel and set yourself up for a fast and powerful spring season?
Absolutely. Here’s how:
Embrace winter weather
Winter sports like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (or snowshoe running) are great ways to stay outside and get a solid workout. Both activities give a great cardio workout while moving and strengthening the same muscle groups you need to develop for running. Don’t fight the snow—use it to your advantage.
Incorporate low-impact body work
Winter is a great time to love your body by incorporating more yoga and Pilates. These workouts may not give the high cardio impact you get from running, but the strengthening and conditioning you’ll get can help with things like form and endurance. Can’t get warm? A hot yoga class should do the trick.
Take a dip
The only athletes who shouldn’t have swimming at the top of their cross-training list are swimmers themselves. The efficiency of a swimming workout is rivaled only by the simplistic efficiency of running. Take note—many runners save pool running for periods of injury, but the truth is, “aqua jogging” can be a great workout even for a healthy body.
Many runners balk at the idea of taking a spin class. They’re runners, not cyclists, after all. But spin classes offer the perfect quick burn and can be a big help with speed work. While the form and muscle groups involved aren’t exactly the same, spin classes can help increase revolutions while running, too.
Hit the Lowly Treadmill
For runners who love the outdoors, climbing on a treadmill can be a challenge. Mentally, it’s a completely different game, but that doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. If you need to run, you need to run, and while a treadmill might be the last resort, it’s better than nothing.