Now that we have gotten our first real snowfall of the season, it is finally starting to feel like winter. As I look out my window, I can’t help but get excited when those big fat snowflakes fall. Each new season bring so much excitement and change to our running routine. Right when those weekly runs start to feel monotonous and mundane, the weather begins to change as we transition to a new season.
My favorite part about living in Michigan is getting to experience all four seasons equally. I find joy each year at the start of spring, summer, fall and yes – even winter. Winter running season is definitely the most unique of all the seasons. The challenges and opportunities it presents make running feel almost as if it’s a different sport entirely – which can sometimes make finding winter running motivation very tricky.
Running helps me get fresh air every day, stay in touch with nature, and be present in each season. While I love a great at home workout, I always miss the fresh air when I don’t get outside for a run. Each year I hear various predictions regarding how “bad” the upcoming winter will be, but no matter the intensity of the season, running is still possible. Until running becomes in possible, I’ll always be excited about the snow and eager to head outside for some winter running.
Despite my excitement, it’s no secret that continuing to run during these cold, dark months becomes a little more challenging. Motivation to head outside in the bitter cold is significantly harder to come by than when the sun is shining and air is warm. Finding the winter running motivation to continue training in the winter can be tricky.
As winter makes its arrival, I want to share some of my favorite parts about the winter running season. When motivation inevitably lessens on those cold, windy days, it helps to remember some of the amazing things you’ll experience outside on the run.
Here is some winter running motivation for the times when you need it most. It turns out that running throughout the year isn’t actually all that bad – here are the best things about winter running.
The Best Things About Winter Running
Being able to see and experience the beautiful snow firsthand.
While most people agree that snow is beautiful, many people absolutely despise having to actually go outside in it. As runners, we persevere through just about every weather condition. If we’re going to be outside in the freezing cold for a run, it might as well be snowing. Experiencing the snow firsthand is a magical experience.
The fresh feeling of the cold air when you step outside.
Although the cold air can make breathing on the run a bit more challenging, it sure feels refreshing when you first step outside. Stepping outside for your run literally brings a breath of fresh air. Appreciating that initial moment brings a sense of peace and calm that cannot be found on those hot, humid days.
Seeing all the Christmas lights and decorations lit up in the evening.
If winter arrives during the holiday season, you’ll have the added bonus of appreciating the festive decorations out on the run. The extra hours of darkness make heading out the door a bit more challenging, but if you’re forced to run when it’s dark you’ll be able to truly see and experience all the beautiful lights.
Coming home feel extra cozy and warm.
Cold weather running helps us really appreciate the warmth of our own homes. Stepping inside after a bitter run in the snow and wind makes cooling down in the living room feel extra cozy.
The feeling of a warm shower after a freezing cold winter run.
When the weather is really brutal on the run, one of the ways I motivate myself to keep going is by imagining the hot shower I’ll get to take when I return. Warm showers always feel nice, but coming in from a tough run in the cold makes them feel even more magical.
Running hard but rarely getting sweaty!
Completing speed work and hard runs in cold temperatures is exponentially easier than those hot, humid days of summer. The cooler temperatures make less work for your body as you reach peak speeds. With no need to cool yourself down, running hard will feel so much easier.
Numb legs feel less aches and pains.
As you trudge through those runs in chilly temperatures, the cold air will likely numb your legs. While numbness isn’t necessarily a good thing, it will probably grant you some relief from the aches and pains you might feel on a normal run. Those relentless hot spots or running pains will suddenly go away as the bitter temperatures numb your legs.
Being able to run without feeling like you’re dying of thirst.
While it’s still important to stay hydrated on those winter runs, it’s a nice change to run a few miles without getting thirsty. The warm, humid air of summer might leave you wanting to guzzle water after just a mile or two – but not in the winter! Enjoy being able to run a normal run without needing a water bottle.
Feeling like you’ve really accomplished something with each run.
Winter running certainly brings some challenging elements. The freezing temperatures, snow, wind, hail, sleet and ice to name a few. But returning home after an especially challenging run on snowy surfaces or powering through the wind leave you with a feeling of satisfaction unlike anything else. Powering through these challenging conditions only makes you stronger.
Burning more calories in the cold while your body tries to stay warm.
Aka that post run treat just got a little bit bigger! Your body has to really work to warm up on those cold runs, burning extra calories to increase your core temperature and maintain blood flow. Not to mention the extra calories you’ll burn running on uneven or slippery terrain like snow and ice. Enjoy your post-run indulgences guilt free after a winter run.
Winter running becomes cross training too.
Running through deep snow or slippery ice works different muscles than running on flat ground, so it’s like you’re cross training and running all at once. Your legs will get strong and you’ll build muscles that would have otherwise been neglected. You can head out for a winter run knowing you’ll gain extra strength!
Finding tons of fun, seasonally themed races!
Winter running season usually brings less tough workouts and more easy runs. There’s no better way to keep yourself motivated and have fun running than participating in some seasonal, low-key races. Find a local race or dream race to keep you inspired!
Winter running means less crowded trails.
Warm weather brings more people outside, which can sometimes mean crowded trails and sidewalks. During winter, you’ll never have to suffer from congestion. Enjoy the peace and calm on the trails and sidewalks during each run.
Colder air often means that you’ll run a little faster.
When temperatures are cooler, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to cool itself down – setting you up for faster paces and the perfect opportunity to PR. There’s hardly anything more satisfying than feeling like you’re giving an easy effort only to check your watch and find our you’re running faster than usual.
There is nothing more peaceful than running while the snow is falling.
Sometimes a run in the cold weather with falling snow is all you need to ease your stress.
And of course… refueling with post-run hot chocolate 🙂
Bring on winter running season! Even with all the negativity that surrounds this time of year, I’m excited to experience all it has to offer. I’m ready for some snow and cold temperatures. (Although I’m sure I’ll be a little less excited when everything starts to get icy, haha).