Don’t let the cold, dreary months of February get you down. Even though you’re probably digging yourself out of the snow, suffering through sub-zero temperatures, or going on pitch-black runs in the evenings, there’s no reason the winter should cause you to lose sight of your race goals this summer.
For a spurt of motivation, as well as some helpful training advice, we reached out to some top bloggers in the endurance world, as well as some of the retailers who carry SaltStick products, for their favorite winter tips, routines and training techniques. Hopefully, you can glean some wisdom from their responses below.
Here are 10 helpful winter training tips you can use spice up your routine:
1. Join a group:
“When it’s snowy, cold and just plain nasty outside, it’s great to have a group for more accountability and motivation to keep getting out.” — Matt of Runners Roost in Colorado
2. Don’t stay indoors the whole time:
“In Colorado we say there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. Getting outside helps your mood and outlook on life so gear up and get out.” — Matt of Runners Roost in Colorado
3. Prepare for the warmer weather:
“Those days you don’t want to get outside take advantage of the cold weather by brushing up on your swimming and strength training to be prepared for the spring.” — The staff of Up and Running in Dayton, Ohio
“What you do in the off season creates the season, so don’t slack on daily nutrition and workout fueling. Work on getting stronger if you want to go faster, and do applicable weights and short intervals. Organize your schedule for the months ahead.” — Matt of The Fitness Pursuit in Illinois
4. Get nice and warm before heading outdoors:
“My favorite winter training tip is to warm up a bit inside before heading out for a cold run. A few trips up and down the stairs or some jumping jacks are enough to prevent you from overdressing and make it so you don’t have to be uncomfortably cold for the first mile or so.” — MCM Mama, fitness blogger at mcmmamaruns.com
5. Schedule the harder workouts in the morning:
“To help me maintain good consistency with my workouts, I prioritize my key workouts for the morning, before the day gets too busy (and my body realizes how cold it is outside). I often workout twice a day, with the evening workout being a lower-stress workout or strength training, as my body adapts to frequency training much better than just working out hard once a day. And for a mental and physical reboot, I let myself wake-up without an alarm on Sunday (before my morning workout).” — Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N, of Trimarnicoach.com
6. Seek motivation from the little things:
“To keep me motivated, I try to always have one thing to look forward to either during the workout or after the workout. Sometimes I look forward to a hard effort or specific set whereas other times I look forward to a hot shower or a recovery meal. These little motivation boosters and planning tips really help with quality training during the winter.” — Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N, of Trimarnicoach.com
7. Keep it all in perspective, especially if you are an age-grouper:
“I realize that nobody is paying me to compete; my goals are my own; nobody’s really watching. Therefore, I don’t put undue pressure on myself with regards to balancing ‘life’ with training. If my training gets derailed, I know that I will ramp up soon enough. I know this because I push myself when I need to.
“It can be tough to balance the forces attempting to take you off your regimen and the desire to stay fit and trained, so I try to make as many good decisions as possible. For example, if I’m training less, I’ll try to eat a bit healthier; if the meal being served is a high calorie one, I’ll take a smaller portion and take only a couple of bites of dessert; if I know I won’t want to run in the cooler nighttime air, I’ll figure a way to sneak a run in during the day.” — David Richman, Author of Winning in the Middle of the Pack
8. Commit to an event or race; then commit to the training:
“The best way to ensure I stay motivated to train regardless of the distracting factors is to commit to doing an event or race. I like to announce to close friends that I’ve signed up for a race, or am going to do some extended training ride. By putting something on the calendar, I create a sense of urgency to get out and train regardless of the forces telling me to wait until the longer, less busy, warmer days ahead.” — David Richman, Author of Winning in the Middle of the Pack
“The biggest tip I can give is to set a goal, get a training plan, and stick to it. Motivation is the hardest thing to come by when the days are so short. Look ahead to warmer days, because eventually we’ll be back on daylight savings time. Be adaptable to get in your workouts whenever and wherever fits best in with your schedule. I have to get my miles in no matter how much snow is on the ground. I hit the treadmill when it gets below 40* outside. If I can’t run outside in the morning I hit the treadmill after helping my kids with their homework. Running in the moment you have will give you a completely different mindset about winter.” — John, Ultra Endurance blogger at Smoke Training
“For winter it all starts with ‘Repeat Small Efforts Day in and Day out.’ Keep your training simple and do not forget about the basics. I incorporate drills — run, bike and swim. Build my strength and make sure I have an injury prevention routine too. It’s so important to give your body time to repair, recover and rest. I always have a goal to transition me into race season. I also realize how important it is to remain fit, to have balance and winter training is the time to train with a different set of rules before the big weeks of training start again.” — Caroline of Naperville Running Company in Illinois
“When it’s cold out, I for one am a wuss about layering up to protect myself from the elements — and so I skip workouts that would normally be routine. But the old adage that there’s no weather, just bad gear, is true. The trick for me has been establishing a habit and sticking to it — reminding myself that bad weather is not an acceptable excuse.” — Laura, endurance, productivity and travel blogger at 50by25.com
9. Consider supplements to provide a nutritional boost:
“Monitor your water and salt intake, and take some vitamin D to keep a nutritional balance. I like to really get a lot of vitamin C this time of year as well, either from citrus or supplements; it helps fight off the cold & flu stuff. Remember just because it’s cold outside you still warm up and sweat a lot. Keeping everything in balance will make you feel happy and healthy all winter long!” — John, ultra endurance blogger at Smoke Training
Note: John is right when he says that you still sweat during winter training and need to replace water and electrolytes. Thirst is a good indicator for low fluid levels in warm temperatures, but you can’t rely on thirst alone when it’s cold outside. The suggested intake of 1-2 SaltStick Caps per hour remains appropriate, though as always, usage depends on your unique physiology, training, and conditions.
Also, if you’re struggling to obtain enough Vitamin D during the cloudy winter days, note that SaltStick Caps contain 100 IU Vitamin D, as well as a combination of electrolytes that closely resembles the electrolyte profile lost during activity: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. For a full list of ingredients and benefits of our products, click here. If you’re interested in learning more about how Vitamin D impacts endurance performance, check out our recent blog post on the topic here.
10. Try something new:
“While most runners who head out in the winter hit the roads, I prefer to hit the snowy single-track trails. In most cases, with a small amount of adjustment in pace and mileage, I find it to be a more enjoyable and beneficial experience. Putting tracks in the snowy trails, while easier than you would expect, still engages the core, challenges your proprioception [bodily awareness], and leaves you with a whole body workout that makes you stronger when Spring hits. I drag my Saturday morning run group out onto the trails and it usually ends up as one of the more enjoyable runs of the year.” — Wayne from Dick Pond Athletics in Illinois
“This is a great time of year to hit the gym and work on functional strength. No heavy lifting necessary but work on the core and posterior chain to strengthen your run support muscles. Similar to strength training, adding some functional flexibility by practicing yoga can only help during the season.
“It has been shown that one of the best ways to strengthen the support muscles for running is to skate or cross country ski. It’s fun, different and works some muscles you won’t [work while] just running.” — Matt of Runners Roost in Colorado
“I like using a habit tracking app so that I have extra motivation to get my workout done. And if you truly don’t want to go out into the winter weather for your run, come up with an alternative – is there a treadmill you can use or class that you can take instead? Be open to a new routine that you establish just for the winter, but make a work out of some kind non-negotiable and enlist a friend (or even social media) to help hold you accountable.” — Laura, endurance, productivity and travel blogger at 50by25.com
Want more? Follow these experts on social media:
Follow David Richman on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (Be sure to check out his upcoming Cycle of Lives journey in September, a 5,000-mile bike ride across America to raise Funds and Awareness for Cancer Research and Care)
Follow Smoke Training on Twitter
What are your favorite winter training tips, routines or techniques? Leave your thoughts in a comment!