Winter Running Options: Our Winter Greatest Hits

Bundle up folks. Winter is coming. Check out Jasmine show off her duty wool mittens and neon!
Bundle up folks. It’s time for heavy wool mittens and neon.

Winter is not technically here, but for most of us it sure feels like it! Here in Ohio it was in the 60’s on Tuesday and now we’re down to 20’s and 30’s. Brrrrr! That means it’s time to get into winter training mode. And when I say winter training mode, I’m not just talking about breaking out the mittens and the tights. There’s so much more that goes into winter training.

On any given wintery day, do you run outside? Or do you run on the treadmill, indoor track or cross train? How do you keep from losing your mind when it’s always cold and slippery and dark or inside and a little soul-sucking? Let’s discuss our options.

Running Outside

If you like running outside in the winter like Vanilla here, then check out the links to the left for some good advice.

When it’s cold, this is not my first option believe it or not. I ran it the cold when I was younger. By cold, I mean windy zero-degree days in Indiana. I’ve put in my outdoor winter time. I just can’t do it anymore. But if it’s your thing, like it is for many of our Salty bloggers, here are some resources for you from our archives:

Got Ice? Try Yaktrax

Running Fashion Police: How to Dress for Winter Running

Running Fashion Police: Winter Hats and More!

Running Fashion Police: Winter Jackets

Running Fashion Police: Layers and Tights

Running Fashion Police, Weather Edition: Pants, Tights or Shorts

Running Fashion Police, Weather Edition: Running Tops for Every Temperature

Treadmill

This is the obvious answer for those over running in the cold, like me. Treadmills are a staple of every gym, or for way less than $1000, you can have a pretty decent one in your own house. If you have your own, the trick is to actually use it. I say to make your treadmill a central piece of furniture in your house. Put it in the nicest room in front of the nicest TV. If you intend to spend more time using this than your toaster, doesn’t it virtually belong on your kitchen counter?  

You can run intervals, threshold, long runs, all of that stuff on a treadmill. Last year, Salty brought us a feature called Treadmill Tip of the Week. Mine through these posts for some really great tips and advice on making the most of your treadmill running sessions.

Learning to Love the Treadmill

The 1% Incline Rule

The Rule of 5

Translating Speed Work for the Treadmill

Gym Time Limits (Ew!)

Indoor Track

You probably don’t want to have to run 160 laps of a 200 meter indoor track on long run days, but an indoor track can come in very hand every once in a while for intervals and beyond; that would at least add some variety. A bazillion years ago when I was a freshman and sophomore in college, I lived across the street from the school fieldhouse with a 200m track. I wasn’t cool enough at that point in my life to run intervals, but it sure was nice for a few miles a couple of times a week. Looking through the Salty Running index, I don’t see much about training on an indoor track [Hey, Salty, get on that!] but it’s pretty self-explanatory. The trickiest part is finding access to one. The best place to find them are colleges and universities. You can look on the school athletics department webpage to see if they have one and for a number to call to find out how to gain access.

Cross-Training

While cross-training might not improve your running as much as running, it also adds variety. And with the winter, variety is your friend. Fight the boredom!  There are so many different ways to cross train. You can try bike trainer workout videos. Some are freakin’ awesome like this 45 minute ride on Beach Street in Melbourne. It is truly one of my favorite workouts. I set my bike up in front of a 115 inch screen and get really into it. Riding in front of a screen isn’t exactly the real thing, but it feels more real than sitting on a stationary bike in a gym. You can swim, elliptical, row or you could take a zumba class or start a strength training routine.

Winter’s the perfect time to explore the weight room and get those glutes firing. Image via wikipedia

If you can’t make it to the gym, video workouts like P90X and Insanity can be fun to throw in. My favorite workout from Insanity is the Max Recovery workout. It’s a core workout that whoops yoga’s butt. There are a bazillion DVDs and YouTube channels devoted to strength training. Winter is a great time to explore these.

Here are some great cross-training posts from the Salty vault:

A Runner’s Introduction to Crossfit

Belly Dance Posture Means Good Running Form

Salty Swimming? A Runner’s Guide to Cross-training in the Pool

Want a Strong Core? Think Beyond the Plank

Know More than Squat about Squats

What are your plans to make it through winter this year?

I'm a subelite marathon runner, but I didn't come from a collegiate running background. Instead I'm trying to break into competitive running in my thirties. I write about chasing the dream of running with the elite girls and tell stories of adventures along the way. Watch me chase the next big thing.

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