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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Reflections on Winter Running...

Did you hibernate this season?
Well, today marks the end of the winter season and the start of a wonderfully fresh spring season.  I can't recall the last time I was this excited to see spring come around (last year we loved winter as we went x-c skiing every weekend for 9 weeks straight!), but gosh darn am I ever happy to see it finally here. It felt like it would never come.

Or so I thought....we received about 4 inches of snow overnight and are slated to receive another 4 to 6 inches by midnight tonight.

Winter kicked off 3 weeks early with the biggest storm I have ever lived through (I've died in a few bigger storms though...) and it's been snowing ever since.  I despise London winters, the constant fluctuations in temperature and precipitation is enough to turn even the most chipper person into a zombie for weeks on end.

So, what did I love/learn/hate/discover in my first ever winter base training season? Tons, and tons, and tons more.  The past 3 months have been a wonderful learning experience for me, but it wasn't without it's ups and downs.

Running comfortably in the winter IS EXPENSIVE!!!

I have never done an actual base season of running through the winter months, so I had to stock up on clothing that would at least wrap me up warmly so that the thought of a run in -20C would not instantly transform me into an emotional wreck.

So I spent hundreds of dollars purchasing tights, base layers (Merino wool FTW!), mitts, socks, shoes, etc.  I bought all my items at Runner's Choice in London, a store I would love to see my readers support as well. Their commitment to the running scene in London is second to none!

Snow & Ice can wreak havoc on your body

If this is your first winter of running, be aware that you're likely to feel discomfort/pain in parts of your legs you never knew existed.  For me it was mostly contained to my hip flexors/adductors and my toes. You'll find that your biomechanics are forced to shift slightly as you tread ice, soft snow and uneven surfaces.

As you ease into winter running, ease into your harder workouts.  Don't be afraid to scale back slightly to give your body time to adjust before you do damage.

Running in a fresh snowfall is almost zen-like

I've always loved running through trails in the fall, and although it still ranks #1 for me, I've discovered a new appreciation for running in freshly fallen snow.  Cars are silenced, and in many cases, nearly non-existent. Your foot steps are muted, instantly making you think you're running so smoothly that you barely touch the ground.

Try it out if you wake up one morning and there's a few fresh inches of snow on the ground. The state of mind you reach will amaze you.

Motivation is Key

Finding and keeping your motivation high in the winter months is literally the hardest part of running in the winter. There are a few things you can do to make sure you aren't just relying on your 'get-up and go' attitude:
  • Run with others
  • Keep a training log
  • Tell others of your accomplishments (and maybe, your goals, more on this topic later...)
  • Treat yourself to something fun after your hard weeks of training
  • Keep it fun and interesting (new workouts, new scenery, etc...)
Focus on staying injury free

The only thing worse than not running in the winter months is not being able to run in the Spring/Summer because you worked too hard, were a little too careless/ambitious and injured yourself.  So be wise, be cool...stay injury free. If you'd like to know how I stay injury free while increasing my mileage, read all about it here.

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