Elite running Stephanie Bruce outlines four key ways to survive the frightful last bits of winter weather.
Fair weather runners—we’ve all been there. It’s the dead of winter, a snow storm just covered our trails with a nice layer of white fluff that lends itself to a beautiful landscape—but far from ideal running conditions. Sitting inside, cozy in our sweats, we are torn between the desire to get out the door and log those miles or to stay comfy on the couch. There’s a reason not many runners have peak races in December, January or February. Aside from a few lucky states, the weather in those months is volatile and inconvenient.
I spent the majority of this winter training at home in Flagstaff, where we were fairly lucky with weather albeit a few cold fronts and two big storms in January and February. I’ve discovered a couple of magic tricks over the years to help ensure you get your training in when the weather is raining on your parade.
1) Meet a group or a training partner. I’m fortunate to train with Northern Arizona Elite, and we have practice everyday between 8 a.m.–9 a.m. with running being our job. Knowing you’ll brave the harsh conditions with someone else makes the trek easier—plus you can go get post-run mochas to celebrate being hardcore.
2) Be flexible. This is extremely important when inclement weather calls for 5 inches of snow the morning of your track workout. We’ll usually look at the forecast a few days ahead of time and move around our schedule based on weather. It’s much easier to swap an easy day with the track workout and head indoors to the treadmill. You could also change the track session to a fartlek and find a safe stretch of road to complete the workout.
3) Know you’ll have always feel better getting your run in than you will skipping it. Of course sickness, fatigue from little sleep, or long hours at work are legitimate reasons not to squeeze your runs in. Give your body the rest it needs on these days to be on top of your game the other days.
4) Remember that winters do end. We’re close—spring is right around the corner, and we can all smell it.
Don’t let me fool you: it’s been a tough winter for us. We are currently in San Diego getting a sea-level stint of training in while Ben sharpens up and prepares for the track season. There are tons of benefits we get from coming down from altitude and spending a few weeks at sea level. You recover better and can execute tougher and faster workouts than at altitude—and most importantly, the weather is fantastic. We’re fortunate that Ben’s family lives here, so we get the best of both worlds; we get extra help with Riley from the grandparents, and the training grounds can’t be beat. I’ve taken advantage of the last few weeks of 75–85-degree days with two solid 14-mile days, a track session of 400s and 800s and just soaking up sports bra tans, the smell of sun lotion and post-run iced caramel lattes. The temp is rising, and so are the miles. Here’s to spring and getting our run on.