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16761 Views 25 Replies Latest reply: Jan 8, 2012 8:55 AM by everjewel 1 2 Previous Next
Running4urlife Pro 72 posts since
Oct 6, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Nov 4, 2011 7:32 PM

How can I staying in "running" shape during the cold winters?

Hey all!


Just wondering how others stay fit during the cold weather season?  I live in the Chicago area and it can get brutal here.  I do my home DVDs - The Firm, Power 90, Turbo Jam usually during the winter. This year I've been training so hard since the Spring and hate to have to stop running for what could be several months. 


Any ideas of which exercises would be helpful to keep me strong during the winter or any other strategies you all use?  I hate to lose all the ground I've made for the past 8 months.




2010 - Hot Chocolate 5k/15k ---47:24 (walked...first race in 10 years!)

2011 - Hot Chocolate 5k/15k ---- 33:53

2012 - St. Paddy's Day 8k/5k Run....58:59....FIRST 8K!

2012 - Tiger 5k Speedway Racetrack....35:38

2012 - Short Run on a Long Day 5k in Frankfort....34:43

2012 - Fort2Base - 3 Nautical Mile (3.45 miles).....36:44

2012 - Hot Chocolate 5k/15k.....31:46...PR!!

2013 - Mar - St. Paddy's Day 5k/8k Run...34.26

2013 - Apr - Tiger 5k Speedway Racetrack...34:36...2nd place in my "old age" group

2013 - May - Solider Field 10 Miler...2:01:26

2013 - June - Chicago Color Run (not timed)

2013 - June - Women's Chicago 1/2 Marathon....2:43:04

  • nowirun4fun Legend 208 posts since
    Oct 22, 2010
  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    Well, nowirun4fun is right.  The best way to stay in running shape is to run.  Lots of runners continue outdoors in weather comparable to Chicago.  Not in the middle of a driving snowstorm.  But the key to beating cold weather is learning to layer, get a good pair of mittens, wear a "watch cap" or a balaclava.  Schedule your runs during a warmer time of day - not first thing in the morning.  If you can't manage any of that, find a treadmill.  Where I live there are lots of clubs where you can get a monthly membership at minimal cost.  Is there a fitness center where you work, or do they have an agreement with th "Y"?  It can be done.




  • skypilot77 Legend 1,077 posts since
    Dec 16, 2009

    Yes. The simple answer is to run.


    Hockey players keeping their skating ability by skating in the off season


    Baseball players keep their hitting skill by hitting in the off season




    Running4urlife -- I lived for two years just across the Lake from Chicago -- in Berrien Springs, MI. I ran both winters I was there. It can be done. You might not be able to get out as many days as in the good weather, but most winters will allow for enough running to keep it going.

  • Couch2MarathonMom Amateur 14 posts since
    Jan 30, 2011

    You might be shocked to learn that you love to run in the winter!


    I started running summer 2010, and was pretty scared about last winter. I didn't want to lose what I'd gained. I never wanted to have a valid excuse to not run.


    So, I bought a treadmill, and I was happy to have that for nights when it got dark to early to run, or for icy days, but I found that I loved to run in the cold, and that snow wasn't much of an issue. I am still glad to have a treadmill, b/c

    it is always there, my No Excuses insurance policy.


    That said, the cold was NOT an issue. Footing can be, and was sometimes.


    Get great clothes for running. I love UnderArmour Coldgear. Head band. Gloves. Fleece pull over. Don't go cheap. Get the best you can find. It's TOTALLY worth it.


    For footing, I found a great trail that has good footing even in bad weather. There is a path that utility trucks cruise up twice a day, so there are always tire tracks in the snow to run in. It is a crushed gravel trail, so the footing is really good. Much better than asphalt, and miles ahead of sidewalks. In snowy weather, I stick mostly to rough roads (mostly gravel) or to gravel/dirt trails. Asphalt tends towards ice, and that is what is really dangerous. I also am sure to take it slow and safe if footing is sketchy. Small, short, slow steps, especially on the downhills. Ask more experienced runners for suggestions on running trails that are decent in the snow/ice, and you might find some good leads.


    I loved running in the cold and snow. It was fun!


    I'm not worried about this year at all.


    First run 8/31/10

    c25k grad 10/23/10

    b210k grad 12/2/10

    Decker's Creek HM 2:11:12 (10:00.9 pace) 6/4/11

    Ashburn Farm 10k 57:30 (9:16 pace) 11/24/11

  • skypilot77 Legend 1,077 posts since
    Dec 16, 2009

    Concerning the cold air ---


    The cold air is a problem if you decide to just start running in December. But if you are running through the fall time into the winter the air temp is getting cooler and cooler through time. Your body adjusts to the colder air and it is not a shock to your lungs as it would be if you just decided to start running on a cold December day.

  • lenzlaw Community Moderator 10,539 posts since
    Jan 18, 2008

    A balaclava (ski mask) can be pulled up to cover your mouth and help pre-warm the air. Another option is a neck gaiter, which can also be pulled up to cover your mouth.  The downside is  that breathing is just a bit harder since you're breathing through the fabric.  It's not a big issue on an easy run, but might be if running hard.




  • ManikSona Expert 55 posts since
    Aug 11, 2011

    I hate to say it, but running is the best way to stay in running shape.  There is plenty of cold weather gear you can buy to run in to help with the brutal cold, but you just have to get out there.  Doing things like P90 will also help you with your endurance levels, so don't cut that out for sure.  Good luck to you!

    Manik Runner - Training for a Marathon

  • jeljohns Pro 106 posts since
    Jan 4, 2011

    Last year I joined a gym and ran a few nights a week on the treadmill. During that time I saved up for a treadmill for home. Kind of extreme and not an option for everyone. I'd say join a gym and use the treadmill when it's dangerous outside, otherwise continue to run outside.

  • RunGoddessBA Amateur 24 posts since
    Dec 8, 2011

    Running in Canada I faced the same challenges a few years back. Developed great momentum through the years to hit almost a complete stop come winter and started again in the spring. Then I invested in what alot of runners dread which was a good treadmill. Keeps me running three to fours days a week and then come spring I'm already for the next season.

    RunGoddess developer of the finest temporary tattoos for runners and triathletes. Free shipping to Canada and the US on orders $13.00 or greater.

  • SMARIETTA Legend 302 posts since
    Oct 3, 2009

      check around and see if you can find a place with an indoor track that  will allow a month to month membership.

    locally, we have several-and i prefer running on an indoor track to a treadmill.

    BTW- cold weather running is possibly the BEST running in my opinion- the temps really aren't the problem, but the footing can be


    I will run outside regaurdless of temps untill things get too icy- then it's an indoor membership untill things clear back up- usually mid dec. untill mid march

  • everjewel Amateur 37 posts since
    Sep 19, 2010

    I live in Upstate NY and run year-round. I find that it's easier to acclimate to cold weather running than it is to running in extreme heat and humidity. You can dress in layers, and someone mentioned the neck gaiter. I use that over my mouth and nose if the air is too cold. You do have to watch your footing for ice and snow. We are fortunate to have a rails-to-trails path in our area that is very well maintained during the winter. Town crews clear it quickly and keep it almost completely ice free. You may find you like winter running. I do!

  • Debm2011 Legend 361 posts since
    Jun 12, 2011

    I'm in the same boat - New England.  This is my first winter of running.  Although we have had some quite cold days, we were spoiled by an extraordinarily mild autumn so far - some trees even started budding last week.  I was in short sleeves last week and I really really hate being cold!  Give me 85 degrees any day.  This week promises to be quite chilly.  So unfortunately I think we will be going from mild to cold rather quickly without the gradual temperature drop.I have to be certain to warm up sufficiently before heading out if it's  really cold  or something will hurt when I get home.  I've spent 2 months slowed down by a calf "thing" and need to be cautious not to go out with cold muscles.  This morning it was 25 and I decided to defer my run to this afternoon when temps were more moderate in the upper 30's.  If only I didn't have an irrational fear of the treadmill.   Thanks for the motivation everyone!  It helps knowing others are braving the cold and gives me encouragement. 

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