Embrace Winter Running!

We are all so fortunate to be able to get out and participate in a sport (and form of exercise) that we love all year long.

But I know how hard it can be to remember that when there’s a big winter storm bringing in a foot of snow or a few inches of rain where you live. One thing that’s helped me stay motivated – and honest with my training – this season has been participating in some of the Global Run Club’s monthly winter challenges.

I’ve taken part in three challenges so far, and for the first time in a long time, I can say that I’m actually training for a full racing season, not just a single distance.

My weeks have been filled with one-mile time trials and 5K and 10K virtual races, along with endurance runs in my build-up to the virtual AbbottWMM Global Marathon in May.

And just in case you want to join me for the fun season-finishing race, I created three different training programs—beginner, intermediate and advanced—all designed to get you to the starting line healthy and the finish line happy. Follow me on Instagram @CoachKastor for even more training tips (and a healthy dose of motivation!) leading up to the marathon.

One thing you might notice about me on social media is that I don't typically wear a fancy GPS watch (although I can definitely see the benefits of one, especially while doing these Global Run Club challenges).

I u sually wear a good old-fashioned chronograph stopwatch, similar to the one I wore back in high school... in the early 1990s. Ha!

I log most of my runs in minutes, but sometimes in miles, as I have courses mapped out from my front door. During my 30 years of running, I've learned to naturally gauge my pace and effort fairly well, especially during recovery runs and long runs.

But where I live, in the California mountains, we can get some pretty gnarly winter storms – the kind that bring two to four feet of snow – and when you run in that kind of weather, measuring your pace becomes kind of a moot point. It's all about your effort.

In my 20 years of living here, I’ve been known to bundle up and “get after it” (as my friend, Olympian Carrie Tollefson, would say).

I know there have been times when I've been climbing up my street, running into a headwind, snow blowing in my face, bundled up from head to toe, and I’m definitely not moving any faster than a 13- or 14-minute/mile pace, but my heart, lungs and blood chemistry don’t know that I’m moving that slowly. They're just fighting to keep up. Regardless of your pace, know that your body is still getting stronger during these types of runs.

Running tip of the month: Take advantage of the treadmill

If weather or time constraints do make it difficult for you to run outside this time of year, don't be afraid to take your training to the treadmill. It's a great alternative tool and resource to have at your disposal.

Yes, it can be boring if not paired with a good playlist, but treadmills can help give your workouts a much-needed boost. Here's how:

  1. Treadmills can minimize impact forces when your feet strike the “ground," which helps speed up your recovery for the next workout.
  2. You have a perfect place to put all your fluids and fuel while you run, making it easier for you to stay hydrated throughout. Take a sip every 10 to 20 minutes, even if it's a short run, to improve your recovery.
  3. Treadmills allow you to dial in your pace, locking you into a running groove you otherwise might not be able to achieve outside.
  4. Running inside gives you an opportunity to catch up on your favorite TV show or podcast in the process, which can serve as extra motivation to get you started.

Stay warm out there, and keep up the good work!
Coach Kastor