Cross-country running during the winter can sometimes get tricky, especially with snow and ice-covered trails. Add to this the shortened daylight and cross-country running in winter can be a challenging hobby. Instead of viewing the negatives, view this change of the season as a new adventure.
#1 Increase Your Mileage
During the winter, it is ill advised to do intervals or real speed workouts out on the trails. You run the risk of slipping on a patch of black ice or sliding down a snowy embankment. Instead of focusing on speed, spend these winter months building up your base mileage and overall aerobic fitness. Go long, but go slowly.
#2 Think About the Mental Game
Getting out and completing a long run when the temperatures dip below freezing is challenging but it is also making you tougher. As you bundle up and set out on your winter cross country run, keep reminding yourself that few other runners are putting this much effort into their offseason training.
#3 Change Up How You Run
During warmer months, your training schedule probably is filled with various miles you aim to run each day. During the winter, tweak how you plan your runs. Instead of setting a distance goal, set a time goal. If it is wet, cold and slippery, you will be unable to safely maintain the same fast pace as a warm summer day. By planning your runs in minutes, you take into account the variable weather conditions that you may experience.
You do not have to pack up your sneakers for the entire winter season, but have a few cross-training workouts to turn to when the weather turns south. By having a go-to alternative, you will not have to worry about losing any of your aerobic fitness simply because it is sleeting outside. You could do some cross training workouts such as riding on a stationary bike, strength training, snowshoeing, hiking or cross-country skiing.
#5 Layer, Layer, Layer
Falling temperatures can make winter running a difficult sport. You begin your run cold and end it with sweat dripping down your brow. The best way to handle the chill is to dress in layers. Before heading out on your run, check the temperature and wind chill. If the wind is blowing, you will need an outer layer that can block the wind. Below this, layer on a breathable shirt that will let the heat and moisture out while preventing you from getting chilled. Against your skin, place a layer that is soft yet wicks sweat; avoid cotton! Finally, protect your hands, head and feet. As you run, simply peel off layers to avoid getting overheated.
#6 Move It Indoors
One way to escape the winter weather is to run indoors. While this is a big change from the hills, paths and fields you may be accustom to running with your cross-country training, indoor workouts allow you to still train despite the frigid and at times unsafe weather. Indoor workouts can be completed on a treadmill or on an indoor track.