5 Tips to Stay Stronger in the Winter

Love this article! Don't get too comfortable with missing workouts and in a rut with life's challenges this winter. Keep pressing on because spring and summer will be here before you know it and regret is always painful to look back on! Enjoy...


The Whole Athlete: Five Habits That Can Sabatoge Your RunHave these negative pa

tterns snuck into your routine during the winter cold and slop?JANUARY 25, 2018 | Jonathan Beverly

A fresh breeze is in the air and runners are out on the roads and trails, dreaming of great performances in spring road races. Often, however, we emerge from our caves and find ourselves unusually sluggish. Our running feels difficult, our strides awkward and gunked up. To shake off these cobwebs, it may be helpful to identify and eliminate some poor habits that have crept in during the winter cold.

1. Inconsistency

Winter is a time of rest and renewal for all, including runners. It’s hard to get out regularly when the temps are below freezing and the sidewalks icy or snow-packed. While an “off-season” is important for our running and rest days are essential, often our training becomes erratic, with too many days off punctuated by random hard days to try to make up for it.

The only way to build and maintain aerobic fitness is through consistent work—getting in some miles nearly every day, week after week, so that your body adapts and considers it normal. As you come off a season of inconsistency, be careful, however, to rebuild your volume gradually, starting from your average mileage during the past 4 to 6 weeks. Recent research has shown that injuries tend not to occur because of high volume but due to rapid changes in training load. Start getting out regularly again, adding up easy miles day after day, and soon you’ll be cruising comfortably at your usual volume and pace again.

2. Excess Sitting

Physical therapists report that the majority of today’s runners—up to 80 to 90 percent of them—have overly-tight hip flexors. These muscles that connect our hip to the front of our thigh get shortened and tightened by sitting for most of our waking lives, keeping our thighs perpetually flexed in front of our bodies, even when standing and running.

But an effective running stride includes hip extension, moving the thigh behind the body, using our powerful, fatigue-resistant glute muscles to drive us forward. Restoring this stride requires more than cueing new patterns, we need to loosen and lengthen the muscles in the front of our hips and strengthen those in the back.

During the winter months, we hurry inside as the sun sets in the afternoon and spend even more time sitting on our couches or in front of the computer rather than playing in the yard with our kids, working in the garden or taking a walk. So our hip flexors get even tighter, and our glutes get weaker. Take some extra time to stretch your hips flexors during the day and do some dynamic drills and leg swings before and after your run to start restoring your natural mobility and stride. And, as often as you can, get off the sofa, out of the chair—better yet, get out of the house!

3. Excess Driving

How long has it been since you walked to the post office, the corner store or the lunch restaurant rather than driving there? Driving robs you of the chance for more movement during your day and adds to your sitting time. Plus, driving’s necessary arms-forward posture continues the trend—exacerbated by your computer and phone—of turning your shoulders forward and inward. This makes it harder to get your shoulders back, balanced and in a position to allow a natural, backwards-driving arm swing.

Throw on a jacket and go for a walk during your next break. Leave the car in the garage and walk to brunch this Sunday. While you’re walking, focus on being balanced over your hips and feet, drive back with each step and feel your glute push you forward. Lift your chest, lift your head and walk tall.

4. Never Going Fast

Just getting out for a run is enough of a victory during most winter days that we tend not to worry about pace. Plus, there’s always the danger of slipping and of pulling cold, tight muscles, so we play it safe. And cranking up the treadmill to race pace is a scary proposition.

But running the same pace day after day is a recipe for staleness and injury. Top athletes hit their top speed nearly daily, and you should too. Max speed accelerations improve your range of motion and recruit every nerve and muscle—waking them up, strengthening them and helping your body wire a more powerful, more effective and more economical stride.