Home Running ‘Tis the season for running: Tips for a successful winter training season and Last week’s workouts

‘Tis the season for running: Tips for a successful winter training season and Last week’s workouts

happy running

Last Tuesday I laced up like any other day. I added an extra layer my torso, wore merino wool running socks and wore my hood up to cover my neck all to prepare for that morning’s chilly 5 degree temperature. It was officially the lowest temperature at which I’ve ever ran and truth be told- it was cold! My route brought me by a middle school boy waiting for the bus to rescue him from the bitter cold. While wearing a smile he shook his head in disbelief when he saw me coming. As I passed him by he shouted, “You’re crazy lady,” to which I instinctively replied, “Crazy about runnin‘!”


Even though I prefer for the temps to hover closer to 30-40 degrees, I still enjoy (and prefer) running outside even in spite of the rain, snow and brutally cold winter temperatures. Running on neighborhood streets quiets my mind, releases stress built up from the previous day and empowers me as I make it up tough hills and zig-zag my way across town. If I ran to lose weight I would probably complete a treadmill workout on the colder days, but this is not the reason why I run (this is NOT a dig on treadmill runners, please see tips below). I believe that if you allow it- running can build both physical and mental strength beyond the runners’ wildest imagination. 


To reek the full benefits of a run I need to feel the pavement under my feet with each passing mile, reach the top of the hill to witness the fiery sky during the sunrise and even breathe in the smell of fresh pine as I pass by the Christmas tree farm. I need to experience the road. I need to bear witness to the world around me. I need to know that my own two feet carried me from point A to point B.  This experience-in spite of the awful winter weather- is what makes winter running enjoyable, empowering and invigorating. And craving this experience is what gets the “crazy lady” out of bed and on the road each and every morning.



Top 3 Tips for a Successful Winter Training Season

1. Are you still having fun? 

A woman came into the running store last week looking for tank tops and running skirts on sale to run in at the gym. She told me, “It’s just not fun to run outside when it’s this cold.” Even though I enjoy running outside at 5 degrees, I am well aware that everyone else does not– and that’s completely ok! It is critically important to find a workout (and workout conditions) that you enjoy- otherwise you simply won’t keep it up!

2a. Be crazy, but not stupid.
While you can control your own two feet, you cannot control the cars on the road. Ice causes cars to slip and snowy conditions causes reduced visibility for drivers. Even though I describe above the significance running outside holds for me, there are inevitably days when a runner should not be on the road due to safety concerns. Hence the reason why I recently ran a torturous 14 mile training run on the treadmill.

Remember, you can still get a fantastic physical workout on the treadmill. When it doubt, dreadmill it out. 

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Remember: You are allowed to be crazy everyday, but stupidity will get you injured. Only humility/intelligence will safely get you to race day.


2b. Safety first: If you DO choose to run outside on “debatable” days try to wait until condition improve. Then, be sure to choose routes that have wide shoulders (snow will cover sidewalks and you will be forced to the street where a wide shoulder is essential for safety), are likely to be plowed and are relatively close to home! (Also, consider bringing your phone!)



3. Be prepared for the elements: Essential items for winter running…

Below 30 degrees: fleece-lined spandex pants, long sleeve base layer shirt, windbreaker jacket with hood to protect neck, hat, heavy duty gloves, low cut socks.

Below 10/15 degrees: additional layer (tank top), high cut merino wool Feetures socks (as little skin showing as possible); if there is ice- yaktraks

Items I am considering buying: neck warmer, face mask, goggles (?)


*The link to my favorite winter running items*


Week in Review: 12.9- 12.15 and 12.16-12.22


This week has been VERY busy as we’ve been getting the house ready for Christmas! Lilly even offered to detangle the lights.

Monday                            3.2 miles (8:35 pace)

Track Tuesday           4×800 and 2 x 7.5 minutes

Wednesday                   5.6 mi (8:10 pace)

Thursday                       5.3 mi (8:09 pace); 60 min weights

Friday                               Speedwork! 10 x 400 (times ranging between 93 and 97 seconds; fastest was 84 sec)

Saturday                   5:25 mi (7:54 pace)

Sunday                             14 mi on the dreadmill (8:03 pace)  *snow


Total miles:   49.25 

Dec 20131

Last Saturday O and I braved the snowstorm to head out on our first date night in months! It was definitely overdue, because we were surprised to find new recliners at the movies! Crazy!



Monday                       OFF 

Tuesday                      5.25 mi (7:42 pace); 60 min weights  *5 degrees out*

Wednesday               7.8 mi (7:58 pace)  *used my yaktrax (for the first time) to survive the snowy/ice*

Thursday                  5.25 mi easy (7:48 pace)

Friday                         5.25 miles (10 x 1 minute repeats)

Saturday                    7.5 mi (7:35 pace) *felt great!! Final mile was a 7:11!

Sunday                      13.1 mi (7:38 pace) with 30 minutes in the middle at a 6:50 pace (ouch, very ouch)


Total miles: 43


Lilly and I running back and forth across the yard in the falling snow as she screams “Mommy running!!” ! This kid likes to run. 🙂 Definitely my kind of kid.




My next post will be devoted to discussing various speed workouts (many completed in past 2 weeks), reviewing my first three weeks with my coach and the new training plan.

Merry Christmas Runners!!



3 Responses

  1. Merry Christmas! Thanks for the tips. I just stay away from the ice when I can and deal with the dreadmill indoors. I really need to do some winter running shopping…any recommendations on the best places to shop? Thanks!

    • thelonerunner

      Janelle- Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!! Since I’m not sure where you live- recommendations on places to shop is a little tricky. In the event that you live on the South Shore Boston- definitely stop by Greater Boston Running Company (where I work); we carry The North Face, Brooks, Nike as our primary lines of running products. I would definitely recommend going to a running specialty store if you’re not sure on which products will work best for what temperature. The sales associate should be able to point you in the right direction! If you know what products work for you and just want to “grab and go” you can definitely get by on going to bigger stores like Sports Authority, REI, or Dicks. Also if you want cheaper shoes (and are OK getting older versions) check out holabirdsports.com or even just google cheap running shoes and plenty of online places have close out sales on old versions of shoes. Hope this helps!

  2. I really like this post because I often find that there is a healthy tension between people who like to run outside and those that will use the treadmill. Your honesty is refreshing! I find that when I run ‘naked’ without a watch or music of any kind, I feel the most refreshed and can get in (or out) of my head. Merry Christmas!

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