Working Out in a Winter Wonderland (or Not-So-Wonderland)

Two women run down Mountain Avenue in a snowstorm.It’s really difficult, when there’s a layer of ice on the ground and there’s an extra bite in the air, to get my sneakers on and my feet moving—even when I’m training indoor track. In the last several years I’ve collected various tips from friends of mine on how they work out on those bitter cold days.

Training outside?

Wear layers: Pile on the shirts, t-shirts, thermal base layers (like Underarmour), long sleeve t-shirts, sweatshirts. And for the really cold temps, throw a pair of sweatpants on over those fleece-lined leggings, if you have a pair. And don’t forget the wool socks, mittens and ear-warmers!

         Extra tip: Mittens, if possible, are much better than gloves; they keep your fingers          together and your hands warmer (I like to run with socks on my hands!).

Break your training into two parts: If you can, try and do your workout near your house so that you can head inside to warm up. When I’m hitting high weekly mileage, I’ll run a few miles in the morning and then a few later in the day if I can’t stand being outside for too long.

Wait for the sun: Try and run between noon and 2 o’clock (take advantage of free time during winter break!), when the sun is hitting the hardest.

Or enjoy the snow! There is nothing more wonderful than working out on a snowy day. It’s like being a little kid again. If you’re with friends, include a snowball fight on your run—it’s like its own arm workout! If you’re alone, just look up and enjoy the beauty of the winter weather.

Sometimes, though, when the wind is too harsh or there’s freezing rain falling out of the sky, you just need to stay inside.

Do some core work: Planks, crunches and push-ups are an awesome way to get a workout when you have limited space or equipment.

         From a fellow Smart Girl athlete, Carolyn, 20, Maryland: “Jillian Michaels’ DVDs are          really great– they are quick but difficult workouts, in the comfort of your living room, and          you can make fun of Jillian when times get tough.”

Hop on the treadmill, or the stationary bike, or the elliptical: To be frank, I hate the treadmill. The stationary bike is tolerable when I have a book, and the elliptical just feels uncomfortable. But if you up the resistance and try to keep the speed up on the machine, these machines can offer great exercise. One way to make this more tolerable is to turn on the TV or your iPod. If you need a while, break it up into 15-minute intervals and definitely toss a towel over the clock on the dashboard.

Relax: Some days, when the weather’s rough, the best thing to do is just curl up with a warm drink and a nice movie. A rest day never hurt anyone—really, it could only help!

Those bitter cold months can be a tough time to motivate yourself, or in some cases just a difficult time to train, but remember, the most important thing to do is always be safe. Don’t forget a reflective vest if you’re training after dark and always keep yourself on safe footing because NO workout is worth an injury.

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