Running in cold, winter weather can be downright unpleasant, especially when it’s as frigid as it’s been over the last few weeks. Many of us want to slide into hibernation mode, hide in the blankets and never come out. After all, is it worth heading outside to run when the temp falls into sub-freezing digits (worse with the wind chill) and a sheet of ice covers the path?
It’s easy to understand how motivation to run can wane; but don’t use the snow and ice as a reason to slack off. There is quite a bit you can do to stay fit despite the weather. With the right attitude and mix of different activities, winter can be a perfect opportunity to use the “down time” from running to get creative with your workouts and reignite your enthusiasm for fitness. The following seven tips will help you fight those winter blues and keep you in shape enough to resume your serious training in the spring.
1. Take the Stairs
Running up and down the stairs for 30 minutes is an excellent leg and high-intensity cardio workout without any requirement to step outside. If you’ve never done this before, you may want to add a brief (2-3 min) walking break every few floors. Once you’ve gotten used to it, try climbing two or even three steps at a time, doing jumping jacks or sprinting a few flights between floors to increase the intensity. Running down the steps is also good for strengthening your quads and helps prepare you for races that include a significant amount of downhill running.
2. Take Up a Winter Sport
For those who live in areas that get plenty of snow, what better way to make the most of winter than to indulge in fun sports that also work your entire body? Ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, skiing (especially cross country skiing) and snowshoeing are all great options that will not only step up your fitness game but also can give you some good, fun family time.
3. Try Something New
If you know you’re not going to be able to run as much as you want because you can’t get outside, winter is a perfect time to try something that you don’t usually have time to do. For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to join a dodgeball or indoor volleyball league, take tennis lessons at the local indoor racquet club, or even try a boot camp class that works your whole body. Whatever you choose will likely use muscles you don’t normally use when you're running, give you a different challenge to tackle, and keep you active while also giving your running legs a bit of a break. By the time winter starts to thaw, you’ll find yourself rejuvenated and ready to get back to the road.
4. Try Home-Based Workouts
Use those electronics you have wisely! A workout DVD or even YouTube video can help you make the most of your indoor time and provide some pretty challenging workouts. If you have resistance bands, weights, a medicine ball, a trampoline, a jump rope, or similar equipment, you can easily put together a full body workout, although there are certainly options that don’t require any extra props like burpees, planks, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.
5. Test Your Snow Skills
When you’ve had enough of the indoors, and you want a refreshing change of pace, venture out into the snow-covered fields with your snow boots and adequate layers for some good old fashioned snow running. Try jumping, high knee kicks, running sprints either on a flat area or up and down gentle hills. Fighting against the resistance of the snow will increase your level of effort and give you a great workout. Ice usually does not form on grass, so it is normally safe to run on a field or hill of freshly fallen snow. When the snow melts and you’re back to running on dry land, it will all seem so much easier.
Don’t let the cold weather blues force you into inactivity. After all, winter is a beautiful season that should be enjoyed. Stay fit with these tips and you’ll be ready to pound the pavement once winter starts transitioning to spring.
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