The dirt has disappeared and winter is upon us. As a long distance runner, I love living in a mountain town and challenging my mind and body on various terrain. Our backyard is a playground for adventurers of all kind, especially trail runners. Snow is wonderful, however, for the avid runner, sometimes it interferes with a regular training schedule. As a running enthusiast, I even get cold feet in the winter months. For those who love running, or just want to maintain what they have worked hard for over the summer, here are some tips.
1. Stop and Breathe. Embrace the running off season by resting your body and your mind. From my experience, it takes just as much mental willpower to stop, relax, and recover, as it does to go and train. Rest your muscles and turn off your mind before thinking about your next running goals.
2. Reflect. Winter is a time to slow down and reflect on what you have accomplished before anticipating your next athletic endeavours. It’s essential to reflect on the past twelve months before developing and planning your next move.
3. Stop training and start playing. Close your eyes and imagine a child seeing the first snowfall of the year. It’s an exciting time. Winter is the time to try out new sports, while maintaining your cardiovascular fitness. Whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, nordic, touring, climbing, snowshoeing, building a snowman, running, or ‘ultra-walking’ in the snow - just get outside and enjoy the white stuff.
4. When (and if) you go running, be prepared. Layers, wool, long socks, tuque, reflectors, headlamps, and yak tracks are your friends. There is also the DIY option of drilling screws into your running shoes to have traction for running on slippery conditions. (Screw it, or just buy yak tracks to go over your runners).
5. Snow reports are not only for the skiers and boarders. Snow conditions change constantly. Snow on your favourite routes means that they are constantly changing. Running in the snow activates your brain and muscles in different ways. Embrace it!
6. One step at a time. Shorten your stride and look two steps ahead. Be cautious while running on slippery, icy or crunchy terrain.
7. Identify your weaknesses. Use this down time to strengthen your body while it recovers. You want to feel rested, balanced, and physically and mentally ready to tackle your 2016 goals. Physiotherapists can help identify which muscles you need to focus on. For many runners, it is Gluteus Medius and Maximus. Strengthening these can help prevent a range of running related injuries.
8. Alter expectations. As we transition to winter activities, we are also transitioning our expectations as athletes. Fully embracing the off season and winter means adjusting your race calendar for a successful 2016. For example, I do not recommend scheduling an “A” race for the Spring. Personally, I use the first quarter of the year as a test to see where I am at, and have my more important goals and races in the latter half of the year. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
9. Make it a party. Find like minded people to get outside, and have a cold one afterward. Running High is an all year round social running group that meets every Monday at 6pm at Nita Lake Lodge.
10. Find your motivation. “You can choose between being a victim of destiny or an adventurer who is fighting for something important.” -The Alchemist. Whether you are motivated intrinsically or extrinsically, find out what drives you and use that to help you accomplish your next set of goals.
Disclaimer: The photo is not a representation of 'running' per se. I would call it Winter Dancing...