In many Scandinavian countries, wintertime involves almost continuous cold and darkness. And yet if the inhabitants only ventured outside during warm daylight, they would never get anything done.
Runners can take a lesson from this. The reality in many places is that winter is a time of early darkness and biting cold. But don’t let that stop you from training. Here are 5 tips to help you get out the door and keep running in the cold:
The cold is more manageable when you’re dressed correctly
There’s no such thing as a day that’s too cold, only a runner that’s not dressed correctly. You can find most cold weather essentials at any local or online running shop. These include gloves or mittens, hats, warm socks, and running pants. All will help keep you warm and relatively comfortable even in very low temperatures.
You particularly want to keep extremities warm during winter outdoor activity, and also to wear a good jacket shell and hat. Doing this prevents heat loss through your head and core. But once you dress warmly, you’ve already won half the battle of winter running.
Once you begin, the rest is easy
There is a Chinese proverb which says “A 10,000 mile walk begins with the first step.” Applied to running in winter cold, this means that deciding to start is usually the hardest part. Adverse weather provokes many excuses, but the easiest way you can conquer them is to open the door and take the first steps.
Once you are a few blocks, then a few miles from home, you’ll find that you have no trouble continuing. It was only the decision to start that needed to be made; everything else follows easily after that.
You need exercise regardless of the weather
Your body’s need for exercise and movement doesn’t stop due to cold weather. Just like people living in perpetually dark and cold climates need to carry on with life despite the adverse conditions, you as an athlete must continue your training for the sake of your physical health, strength, and endurance, which will all decline if you give up the effort.
Your competition is staying indoors
If you are a competitive runner there is much solace in realizing that many of your competitors in races may take the easy way out and stay indoors or at least shorten their training on very cold days. But if you stick with your running plan, you will continue to grow in fitness and mental toughness, rewards which are well worth the temporary discomfort of running in the dark and cold.
Treat yourself to a post-run reward
You can encourage yourself to run in tough conditions with the promise of a reward. When you return from your adventures in the dark and cold, refuel your body and treat yourself to a post-run hot chocolate!
Into the dark and cold: embrace the challenge
You might find it a real challenge to leave the warmth, light, and comfort of your indoor location to venture into the cold and dark. But your effort is well worth it. All the benefits of running still apply regardless of the weather outside. The difficulty of outside conditions shouldn’t prevent you from doing what you enjoy.
You might end up enjoying some of your best ever runs in the wintertime dark and cold. While everyone else is inside, you can have the quiet and peace of the outdoors all to yourself!