This is an important reminder for winter running. While it might feel better to sleep in and snuggle in your bed on a cold Saturday morning, you’ll feel much better when you come home after a nice long run. You can always warm up with a warm cup of hot chocolate for the rest of the day! Happy running this week!
Winter running (outdoors) is for the truly dedicated runner. This is the runner who leaves the house wearing shorts, a long-sleeve tech shirt, gloves, ear warmers and compression socks when it’s 32 degrees out. Or, the runner who opts to get in a few miles on Christmas Day before the family stops by. This is not to say runners who opt to head indoors for treadmill runs aren’t dedicated- they’re probably smart. They’re smart because sometimes running outdoors in the winter can be dangerous and if you’re not careful, slipping on ice or falling into a snow bank can lead to a sidelining injury that’ll keep you on the couch for the rest of the season- and nobody wants that!
So, besides wearing the right clothes, bundling up and making sure you have all the right reflective gear, watch wear you step and don’t forget to stretch! Running in the snow can help to strengthen muscles in the legs and feet but can also lead to overuse injuries. Some common winter running injuries include hamstring strains, Achilles pain or Achilles tendonitis, lower back pain, runner’s knee and ITB syndrome. Injuries often occur during the winter because it takes a lot longer for you to warm up during a winter run but it also takes a lot less time to cool down so post-run stretching is vital to avoiding tight muscles and cramping.
One effective way to avoid tight muscles during the winter months is through sports massage. The Áhsi’ Day Spa in upstate New York offers special sports massage sessions for runners but they also suggest you do at-home self-massages before and after your winter runs.
“Massage is essential for runners to prevent injury,” said a representative of the spa. “Whether you engage in self-massage or professional massage, it is essential to use massage for a successful training during the winter months.”
Here are three tips from Áhsi’ Spa for at-home sports massages for runners:
- Foam Roller: Foam rollers can be used to massage certain areas of the body. The lower back, neck and quadriceps are commonly massages with foam rollers.
- Lacrosse Ball: Lacrosse balls are often used to relieve myofascial pain on hips, legs and other parts of the body.
- Theracane: Theracane is a self-massaging tool that can be used for the shoulders and back. This tool is a runner’s favorite.
Living in the northeast the weather come winter gets cold, dreary and very snowy. For some people, this is their favorite time of year. For others, it’s the worst. If you’re like me, you love the snow and holiday cheer in the beginning of the season but come January 1, I’m done!
It’s also hard to get through the winter if you are trying to stick to a relatively strict training program- especially if it involves running outdoors. But don’t fret! It’s not impossible. All you have to do is set some goals and guidelines to follow and you’ll cruise through the winter months with no problems!
- Set a short term AND long term goal- For me, my short term goal is to get faster. How am I going to accomplish this? Well I started a sub-50 10K training plan with a goal race at the beginning of February. This way, I’ll have a plan to follow throughout most of the winter months and I’ll also be working toward something I want for myself. My bigger picture long term goal is to run a full marathon in 2013!! (Ahhh!) To do so, I need to stay focused this winter and maintain my long runs.
- Buy some new gear- nothing gets me more motivated than scoring some flashy new running gear (like this Saucony top I bought on Black Friday!). Hit up your favorite local running store and buy yourself something nice. Think of it as a pre-reward for all the snowy, cold long runs you’ll need it for!
- Add in your favorite cross training you can’t do when you’re really training hard during racing season (i.e. Spring, Summer and Fall)- This week I added in a boot camp session instead of cross training on the elliptical and it was great! It’s good to switch it up a bit to exercise all muscles, not just the ones you need for running. So, go take a yoga class or maybe try CrossFit? Whatever it is, now is the time to do it!
- Register for a winter race- Winter races are really fun (even though they are VERY cold) and everyone is supportive because you’re all just as crazy as the next person!
- Run with friends- If you like running with a partner or a group, winter is the perfect time to take full advantage of this support. Running with a group or a friend will help to keep you motivated, especially on those mornings when you really, really, really want to stay in bed.
- Help someone else learn to run- I have to admit, I can become a bit self-centered during racing season, but I think that’s just because I am focusing on goals for myself. Winter is a great time to motivate a non-runner friend to run, especially if you’re not busy with a training plan or race schedule. Try to get a friend out with you at least once a week. Start off slow and make sure you run at whatever pace is most comfortable for them.
- Don’t be afraid to indulge a little- Winter is holiday season and it’s a time for great company of family and of course, delicious food, so don’t be the weirdo who skips out on the yummy cookies your Grandma makes every year. You run, you’ll burn it off! Also, be sure to spend time with your family as well. If you’re like me, my parents and sister (and my BFF Sydney!) are the ones who take the time to come to my races and support me, so it’s just that much more important to take the time during the holidays to enjoy their company. If that means cutting my long run short, so be it!
What are your favorite tips for staying motivated during the holidays?