Winter running strategies

By Gary Droze


The winter season brings a huge temptation for the casual runner to fritter away all the conditioning gained in the last few months. Dicey weather, family obligations, and frenzied holiday schedules all conspire against sometime athletes. Add to those disruptions the earlier onset of darkness this time of year, and the less dedicated among us are now armed with all the excuses needed to send us puffing into the new year significantly fatter and slower.

On the other hand, motivated runners may, with a bit of organizing, get plenty of training under their belts. Thus, they won’t be forced to loosen said belts to accommodate holiday excesses. Frankly, the holiday training challenge can be conquered with just a bit of determination and planning. A good starting point is to decide outright how many workouts over the holidays you can reasonably fit into your schedule. Runners who establish moderate goals are far more likely to stick with training than those who unrealistically promise themselves that they will run every day. The latter are virtually destined to abandon a plan altogether once they enter a few “goose eggs” in the training diary.

A few other simple strategies may keep wintertime runners on the straight and narrow:

1. Run as early as possible in the day. Several well-lit roadways exist in Tallahassee, and the sun is up by 7:30am. Unforeseen bumps in your daily schedule are almost certain to erase your afternoon running plans during this time of year, and it will be dark and cold by the time you get off work anyway.

2. Get in the health club routine NOW. Waiting for January 1st makes no sense to your body. You actually show more resolve by launching your resolution today.

Seek out inspiration, in the form of friends and running events. Challenge a buddy to see you through your holiday training, and exploit the many opportunities for organized running in this area over the next month. For example, the Gulf Winds Track Club temporarily moves its weekly sessions to Mondays at 6pm at the Maclay Track for the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day. Additionally, GWTC groups invite newcomers to join them at the St. Mark’s Bike Trail on Christmas Eve, and in the Apalachicola National Forest on New Year’s Day. Just adding these events to your calendar may inspire you to maintain your training clear through the jingle bell season.