As the middle of February approaches, the days are short and the treadmill runs are long. Was it just a few short months ago I was running outside in shorts? As easy as it is to dislike the many challenges of winter, as a runner I’ve come to enjoy this part of the year. It’s a different season of running for me for many reasons.
Increased time on the treadmill
In 2012 I moved into a building that had a great gym and a treadmill. I’ve never left. This little basement gym has been a saving grace and has played a big role in my last three spring marathons (Ottawa 2013, Toronto 2015, Ottawa 2016).
With my mornings starting at dark-o-clock, with temperatures -10ºC and below, I often rely on my treadmill for workouts. Not only does this eliminate the risk of icy footing, it allows me to hit paces that I would otherwise have difficulties running in the snow + ice conditions. It also allows me to hoover in high-weekly-mileage territory, with less impact on my legs. After my Achilles injury this summer, I’ve been paying extra attention to my body while running higher mileage weeks.
That said, the one challenge I do have is getting to the treadmill before anyone else. I know I know, this may sound selfish. But hey. We’re marathon training here! And, let’s be honest. It’s really only one person I compete with (if you watch my instagram stories, you’ll understand).
Treadmill running can be a mental challenge. There’s no change in the scenery, and you’re staring at the same place in the wall/out the window for unimaginable amounts of time. Last week, I actually felt a little fuzzy after staring out at the bright white snow for 2.5 hours (32K). Over the years, I’ve managed this by watching movies, listening to podcasts, playing with the speed/incline to keep things interesting.
I also do a lot of thinking on the mill. It’s hard to ignore that voice inside your head when you’re running in the same spot for hours. My thoughts wander from day-to-day things (what am I going to put in my post-run shake, what will I wear today), to deeper things depending on what’s going on at the time. Other times I tune out and JFR.
During these winter months, I am reminded how much progress I have made in the mental strength department. I wasn’t always mentally strong. In my early running years, I frequently quit workouts or just plain ole wouldn’t do them. Now, I frequently run for hours, often challenging myself with fast-for-me paces. I give a lot of credit to my ability to make my MIND RUN THE BODY.
In the summer I am more likely to spend time outdoors. Whether that’s going for a long walk, or doing core work post-run, I find it harder to get myself down to the basement gym. This means I do less strength and cross-training! In the winter, I’m more likely to stay inside for my runs, leaving my conveniently close to the weights. I often do a 30 minute strength training routine post-run, or I’m more inclined to go downstairs for a workout on active rest days.
How do you use the winter months?
Do you run on the treadmill more in the winter?