4 Winter Running Tips to Stay Motivated in the Cold

Another season of the show has come and gone, so here we are, back around once again and it's winter time. I have a lot of different videos on how to run in the cold what to wear in the cold, all those kinds of things.
4 Winter Running Tips to Stay Motivated in the Cold

Another season of the show has come and gone, so here we are, back around once again and it's winter time. I have a lot of different videos on how to run in the cold what to wear in the cold, all those kinds of things. But we haven't really talked about how to stay psychologically engaged in the cold because that's a tough thing, right? Getting out to run when it's cold and it's dark and you just don't want to. There's a lot of things nagging at you. So today I want to give you four tips on staying committed to your running during these cold winter months.

As always, if you haven't with me here on the channel before I'm Jesse Funk, this is a show I call Runner's High, but we talk about everything running every Tuesday and Thursday. Now here we are, as I mentioned at the end of another season, so we've got three years of backlog that you need to check out of me sitting here in the sun room or various parts of my house talking to you about running on all kinds of topics.

But today we're obviously going to talk about how to stay committed to running when it's cold, when it's dreary, it's dark. You just don't want to go. And the first thing I want to cover really is this is all about getting over objections, right, finding out inside your own mind what are the objections to going out and doing the thing that you should be doing that you like doing, running, and figuring out a way to overcome them?

And one of them, one of the most practical objections is safety.

So it is darker earlier in the wintertime, at least here in North America. And then it is also going to be darker, longer in the morning. So likely, if you're running before work or you're running after work, you don't have a flexible schedule like I do, which I'm very fortunate and happy to have. You may be running in the dark and it's a safety thing, right? So you need to wear reflective gear lights something. I have this thing here from Nox Gear.

You've probably seen videos of this. They advertised very heavily there for a while. It's got these changing color lights and straps. It's got a nice big pack on the back. I think you can see it is great for being in the dark. It's very bright right now where I'm shooting. I've got sun coming in, beaming in here, so it's a little harder for you to see, but you can kind of see the colors and stuff as it's going on.

This thing is perfect for running in the dark. There is no mistaking you are running. There's somebody there and it helps, you know, ease you in the kind of anticipation that somebody is not going to see you in the dark because what happens?

Well, it's cold.

So we're going to put on our cold gear. What's our cold gear? It's likely black.

This takes me back to a time in college when it was a winter training run at 5 a.m. for some reason, and we were out on these country roads because the college, I went to butted up to the country because I'm here in the Midwest. And so we were on these like County roads and they had to give these cars passing us. There's basically no shoulder and we had a way to ditch if they were going to hit us. But we heard after we got back, there was actually some professors coming into the college that were mad at us for basically not being visible because we were in all black gear running on these roads.

And I wish at that time that something like this existed and we could have a trail of me and my guys with me running that we would have been very, very visible.

So if that's an objection that you have, get something, it doesn't have to be this. There's all kinds of different light things and reflective things. I bought this because I wanted to try to make a better product, but it's actually pretty good, and I haven't figured out how to make a better one. So check them out if you want this, but get something to keep yourself visible and reflective and then you can get over that objection of is dangerous for me.

So let's get on to some a little bit more insidious mind worms that get to you and make you not want to get out in that cold.

And cold is the operative word, right? I know plenty of people who are basically snowbirds, so they decide I don't want to be here. It's too cold. I'm going somewhere else. The classic place to go is Florida. In the U.S., my business mentor and friend. He goes to Mexico for the winter because he's able to.

That is not the case for all of us. Many of us don't have the option. We have families, we have jobs, we have houses things we need to take care of. Many of us cannot be snowbirds.

There are more of us that can be like when I recently spoke with Cory Jennerman, the owner of Run Guides or co-owner of Run Guides.com On the Smart Athlete Podcast. Since he has a very flexible job running the site, he can go to Mexico. As I mentioned, that's where he was when I interviewed him in the on the podcast. So if you want to check that out, we'll try to link to that here at the end of this video.

But getting over that objection about it's cold is a tough one, right? Because there's not a whole lot you can do about it's cold. It's cold in the morning when it's dark, it's cold in the afternoon. At least most places in the U.S., not all places, obviously.

So proper gear is good, but I've done a video on how you know what to wear in the cold. Beyond that, though, there's something you can do that's kind of easy, but it's going to take you a little bit of knowledge of where you live to implement it, and that is find elevation.

So you'll notice immediately when I talk about this. If you think back to previous early morning runs or winter runs, have you ever gone down a hill and felt it get colder?

It's because that cold air settles, you know, warm air rises, cold air settles. So if you are running in a valley which is like, there's this park that I used to run at and it is basically all entirely in a valley. So it's cool. It's all shaded. Just a very cool. It takes a long time for it to warm up. Not the best place to run in the wintertime. Find elevations. So if in that instance there isn't but say that there was a trail at the top of the hill. That's the place to run because you're going to have warmer air in that area and just, you know, a couple of hundred feet difference can be a big difference in terms of the warmth of the air around you.

Now does it mean you're going to go out and run in a short shorts and T-shirt?

Probably not.

But any little bit to take the edge off is something I find is helpful. Plus, maybe you'll get a little bit of a placebo effect where you're like, I'm running in the warm air like it's it's wonderful now. It may work for you. It may not. But you know that in actuality, it will be warmer if you stay at higher elevations again, even if that just means a few hundred feet. Avoiding those valley like areas throughout your runs. Helps avoid those colder pockets of air during the winter and really any time of year, but it's especially poignant during the winter, obviously.

My third tip is to be flexible, and what I mean is if, like me, you live someplace like the Midwest or the Northeast or north of us. And like Minnesota, Wisconsin, I don't know what you would call North Central. Would you call it that? You live in a place gets a lot of snow.

We get a moderate amount of snow. Obviously posted north of us are going to get more snow into Canada. Even more snow and snow is a problem when you're running, right? So I've talked about wearing some kind of spikes on your shoes before. There's a popular brand Yak Tracks; they're called crampons or spikes, shoe spikes, that kind of product. It helps with traction a little bit in the snow, but it's not perfect.

I've talked about before how to adjust your regular running time for time running in the snow, meaning if you're running seven minute miles, then you're going to be slower and how to adjust to what that pace is going to be and expect that, hey, it's this amount of time versus the normal amount of time.

The way you can be flexible is number one, keeping that in mind, but also knowing that you can take your run and say, say for me, I run my long run paces around seven minute miles, so I so I like to use it. It's just the math I'm familiar with all the time. So say I would be going out for an eight mile run. Normally, that's fifty six minutes, right? Seven minute pace seven, 7:10, 6:50. So let's go to seven because it's a nice, easy number fifty six minute run normally, but say there's snow on the ground.

Now what do I do? Do I still go out for eight miles? Because now eight miles, it may take me sixty sixty five minutes. It depends on how much snow where I'm going, all these kinds of things. Is the snow slick? Is it melty? Is it icy? All these considerations. So what you can do instead is say I'm going to go out for a fifty six minute run regardless of whether I make eight miles or not, because the point of the long run in this case is that you're getting aerobic activity in.

If you're out for the equivalent amount of time and you're going to be working harder, but you're not getting as much traction.

You're still basically getting in the same amount of work.

This doesn't mean that it's going to be perfect because your stride adjusts a little bit when you're running in snow, but it can also be a safety hazard to be on snow for too long, in my opinion, because you know, the chance of slipping is greater and then you are working a little bit differently. And because those muscle groups are not used to working in that capacity, trying to overextend yourself can lead to potential for injuries. So we always want to watch out for that.

So be flexible. Allow yourself to say I'm going to run for equivalent time, and that's OK, because in this situation, we're not trying to pick up speed. We're only trying to maintain fitness and running for that equivalent time will maintain that fitness until we get to better running conditions.

My last tip for you is make a carrot for yourself. And by that, I mean specifically, pick a race. Where are you going to go place someplace warm? You're going to go someplace warm. It's going to be, you know, a little retreat. Maybe that means you're driving me. That means you're flying, but make a trip of it so that, you know "Hey, I've got this, I've got this thing coming up, I've got this race coming up and it is in a nice environment where I can go run."

Now, if you are anywhere around the Kansas City area, you can come out and join me. I'm going to be doing the ground hog run with my friend Kevin on the 30th of January here in Kansas City. It is a run that is underground, so we get nice conditions because we're underground. It's like a it's a business park, but temperatures are sixty five year round.

So I fortunately have a race nearby that I don't really have to travel for to have nice conditions to race in. And that keeps me motivated right now because I know it's coming up. I can't slack off, it's coming up, so I have to stay motivated. In your case, you may not have something like that and you actually have to travel to a warmer state to get a race in.

But when you have that carrot, you have that thing on the schedule. It helps keep it top of mind. Hey, it's cold out, I know, but I got to go put my miles in because that race is not going to go well. And I don't want to waste my money and my time to go to this race and have a bad time.

Now you may be thinking, Well, I'm running the cold and I'm going to go run in the heat it's going to be terrible.

And you're thinking is right. Adjusting to that temperature jump can be a big deal, but it isn't. It isn't a hurdle that you can't get over. And the reason I say that is that there's actually a heat acclimation strategy that you can do, and it only takes seven to 10 days that you can do prior to a race.

I talked about this recently on the podcast with Dr. Chris Minson, who is a professor at the University of Oregon, he gets to study and his labs or right connected to the new Hayward Field. And he's done a lot of research on the effects of heat acclimation and how it helps performance improve, often with runners.

So if you want to know more about that heat acclimation strategy, check out that interview I did with him on the Smart Athlete Podcast. Again, both those interviews Cory and Chris will link to those at the end of this video, which is basically now, so they'll be coming up to the screen shortly.

But those are my four tips for staying motivated in the cold. Do you have any questions for me leaving down the comments below? Otherwise, you should definitely check out those conversations I had with them, both awesome people. So those links will be shown up on the screen here shortly. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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