Wintertime Training

Although we had a good run of mild temperatures and sunny days, winter weather has inevitably settled in over Central Ohio. In fact, the first ice storm of the season made an entrance late last night, leaving the streets and sidewalks covered in a slippery glaze this morning. Weather like this not only makes driving dangerous at times, but also leaves running trails and paths less than safe to walk on. I went to bed very late Friday night (or very early Saturday morning, that is) after hearing the news that MIT was cancelled due to inclement weather – the first time that has occurred since I began running with them. While this is a smart call to keep all runners and walkers safe and injury free – on the roads in transit and on the trails – for newer runners or those that may have not previously trained in the winter, it poses an interesting challenge to getting in the scheduled workout.

Ice on my sidewalk!

I remember when I trained for my first half marathon with MIT over two years ago, in my mind it was imperative that I got my workouts in as scheduled. Any deviation from my training plan, planned or not, was stressful and I was initially convinced my hard work to date would be sabotaged. Since then, of course, I have learned how to adjust or tweak my training plans and mileage to my schedule while still getting in the desired workouts and miles. Re-scheduling or modifying a planned workout is not as big of a stressor as it once was, but I understand how difficult it can be for first-time runners. For example, our Cap City Half Marathon training schedule for Saturday said two miles. At least it was a fallback week, right guys?!

So, what exactly should you do to get in your workout and adjust your schedule accordingly? Below are some of my tips to keep you moving when the weather makes an outdoor workout less than ideal:

(Even though you might really want to stay in bed like these girls!)
  • Treadmill up (unless you’re more like me and view the treadmill more as a dreadmill). While I’m lucky enough to have one in my living room, I don’t use it very often. However, it is more than convenient for shorter runs – like this week! I could crank out two or three miles without (too much) of a problem and without even leaving my house, which is nice when the weather is not-so-nice. If you have a membership or access to a local gym or athletic club, you could use the treadmill or elliptical there (after the roads are cleared, of course). Once in awhile, it serves as a nice change of pace to outdoor running.
Sadie probably uses this more than me!
  • Pop-in an aerobics, Zumba or other workout DVD. Anything that gets your heart rate elevated can be substituted for a cardio workout gained purely by running.
  • Focus on your strength. Develop an at-home strength-training routine. You don’t even need the equipment of a gym to be successful! Your own body weight can serve as the only tool you need to work those muscles. Some good strength training moves for runners in particular include lunges, squats, sit-ups, push-ups, planks and leg lifts. You can also use strength-training DVD’s including Yoga, core-workouts or any other of the multitude of celebrity at-home training programs.
  • Turn your house into your own personal gym. There are many things you can at home to get your blood flowing faster. Jog up and down your stairs, do jump-rope or jumping jacks or even give your space a swift cleaning from top to bottom. You would be surprised how many calories you burn while performing regular household tasks a little quicker than usual.
Run, Mom, Run!
  • Switch it up. Substitute your rest day for a day when you can’t get outside and run. For example, although MIT didn’t meet on Saturday, you could get out and run on Sunday, which is typically slated as a rest day. Spend time doing routine family activities on the day you’re home instead and make it known you plan to get out the next day for an hour or so. Most families and friends are more than understanding when you make your plans known ahead of time. Call up a friend or training partner and see if they would like to meet you to make up the miles together. This, way you stay accountable and stay moving, which is the ultimate goal.
  • Whatever you decide to do, don’t panic!If you miss a workout due to unforeseen circumstances, which happen to all of us at one time or another, you won’t derail your training. Pick up and get back on track the next day if you can’t make up a workout. As long as you aren’t regularly missing your runs and make the most of your outdoor runs, you’ll be just fine!

So, while you may not be able to get outside when the weather doesn’t cooperate, but you can still get a good workout in to boost your heart-rate, improve endurance, build muscular strength and flexibility and burn calories. Above all else, relax, have fun and stay safe when you do venture out this winter season.

Until the next mile marker,


  1. I learned this same thing last summer. It is definitely great advice to new runners aiming for a long distance race for the first time!

  2. This post was so timely for me as I had WEATHER this week too… and although we did get out and ‘hike’ in the snow, and did indoor walk/jog DVD and upper body strenght work, we only ran once… our planned long run of 5 miles. It is good to know that the odd off week will not derail things. Thanks, Sara, for this reassuring advice. 🙂

    Love the pics of the girls!

  3. Great tips! I’m also fortunate enough to have a dreadmill in my house, but I usually avoid it at all costs. Lately, I’m trying to do my best to make use of it out of necessity. Last weekend, I tried running a couple miles on it before heading out into the cold for my long run. It made my 16 mile run seem less daunting since I got a few miles out of the way on the treadmill, plus I was nice and warmed up so I could face the cold.

  4. I totally agree with you that sometimes you have to miss a run and it’s no big deal (after injuring my everything last spring, I had to learn flexibility), however I also think a lot of people use the weather as an excuse way too often. Saturday was bad, but it is possible to train for most of the winter outside (at least here) if you dress correctly and are willing to go a little slower.

  5. Lisa Graziano says

    You’ve probably seen this “11 Random Things” posting going around the blogosphere. I got tagged and have tagged you–it is actually pretty fun, but no pressure if you don’t have time!

  6. Suzie Thomas says

    The best way to burn abdominal fat is; instead of focusing so much on abdominal exercises, focus on a full body systemized workout that will increase your overall metabolic rate and as a result dramatically stimulate your bodys hormonal response to burning fat.

  7. I have not seen it, but thanks for tagging me! I will check it out! 🙂

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