Almost all runners gripe that winter is the hardest season to train through. And I always agreed. But a few years ago, I started to look at winter through a different lens. After years of frustration running in windy, icy and snowy conditions, I started seeing winter for what it truly is: a time to recharge the body and pursue alternative methods of staying fit.
What to do:
Substitute other activities, such as swimming, hiking, skiing and swiss-bobbing. Run more on the paved roads during these months, as well; this will reignite the quick-twitch muscles you lose during a year of slow mountain-running miles. Enjoy trudging through the shin-deep snow to build more power. I have one eight-mile winter classic that typically takes four hours to complete. It climbs 4,000 feet over Triangle Mountain, Colorado and enters an area of waist-high snow. My friends and I call it the Steep and Stupid Loop.
Where to go:
There are always trails that are better explored during the wintertime. Explore the desert or finally take that vacation to somewhere warm. In my case, there are high desert trails nearby, among the Book Cliffs of Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado. We’ll create large loops in these places, which keeps us creative and our joints reinforced for the twists and turns we encounter when trail running.
Create season goals:
Winter sees the end of one season and the beginning of a new one. To stay motivated, I use this time to plan my goals – figure out which races I want to do, create large trail running projects I want to try, quicken my pace of a trail I often run.
Even in winter, running is a way to explore and enjoy the outdoors. When I’m hiking up a snow-covered mountain and then bombing down in cushy powder, it’s easy to remember that at its core, running is just pure fun.