Winter Runs for the Newbie: Overcoming Inherent Challenges and a 5k to Prove It | Guest Blogger

Our favorite new runner, our sister-in-law, Melissa, is back. Take it away Melissa:

I have been in a bit of hibernation mode recently. I guess the reasons are fairly obvious. It’s winter, and this winter has been particularly challenging, with the plunging temperatures, heavy snowfalls, and a record-breaking ice storm just a few weeks ago.

In the summer, I made it a goal to run every second day. This felt good and manageable in my schedule. I am new to running, so that was pretty much all I was focusing on: just getting out the door every two days. My memory may be eluding me, but in hindsight, it seemed so much easier then! All I had to do was grab some water, tie up my laces and open the front door. I liked to run at night because the heat of the day had passed and the anonymity of the darkness cloaked my self-doubt.

This is my first winter running, and I am beginning to understand the challenges involved. But I look at running as an art of overcoming challenges with endurance and grace. (I imagine most have more grace than me).

I have listed the challenges I have noted this winter and my plans and actions to conquer these challenges.

1. Challenge: Winter running requires more gear, and a larger investment if you are on a budget. I am definitely on a budget this year because of our plans to move in the spring, and even when I’m feeling a bit extravagant, I still suffer from sticker shock whenever I go into a specialty running store.

  • Action: I have been able to curb the expenditures by shopping at discount retailers, like Marshall’s or Winners, where I have purchased some cute base layers at a price that I’m comfortable with.

2. Challenge: Some days, the barrier between my warm, comfortable home and the grey, windy, cold outdoors feels impenetrable. Although I feel like a caged bird, I am reluctant to leave my bubble.

  • Action: Granted, there have been days this winter when outdoor running seems inhumane. On these days, I can still have my run indoors. The local recreation center has an indoor track that offers free public use at certain times of the day. I also enjoy use of the treadmill, utilizing settings that incorporate hills, and interrupting the monotony by trying some intervals at a higher speed.
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Our local running track

3. Challenge: There is a pesky, persistent, convincing voice in my head telling me that it is winter, a time to hibernate and store some fat for the cold weather. Bathing suit season is months away. Surely I can indulge a bit now if I get my act together by the spring.

  • Action: I would be lying if I said that I never listened to this inner voice. That being said, I have been able to quiet this tendency by setting short- and long-term goals for myself. I met a short-term goal on January 1st by participating in a 5k fun-run hosted by the Running Room with my sisters-in-law. I have also set the ambitious goal of completing a half-marathon in the fall of 2014. I know I have a lot of work to do if I want to make this a reality, so I have started researching training programs and schedules to help me make this possible. This has helped to keep me motivated and focused.

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In conclusion, winter running has proven to be challenging for me as a novice runner, but I don’t plan on giving up easily. And, given all of the hurdles, there are some elements that are very enjoyable. The snow-covered landscape on a sunny day can be breathtakingly beautiful. I have never enjoyed a cup of hot cocoa as much as I have when coming in from a cold run. And words of pride from my husband have made me feel never stronger. So, let’s show this Canadian winter who we are!

-Melissa-

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