We all know the feeling. You wake up for your morning run before heading off to work. The sky is still dark, the wind is howling, and the air through the cracks in the windows is ice cold. Sometimes it’s a struggle to imagine any silver lining at all when faced with the idea of running in cold weather. However, there is actually a wide range of reasons why running in cold weather is good news and should be seen as something to be happy about. Given that the majority of us will be spending the next several months jogging red-eared through the cold, now is a good time to look at why we should be excited, and how to best approach winter running with a positive frame of mind. Here are our top four:
1) Keeping Cool
Ever wonder why most European sports take a break for the summer or why most marathons are held in October and November? Contrary to our mind’s idyllic image of perfect running weather, our body does not agree that seventy-five and sunny are the perfect conditions for physical activity. Cooler weather actually helps keep the body from over-heating during strenuous activity and allows it to better deal with the stress distance running places upon it. This means, while summer runs may demand waking up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat, fall and winter allow you to take on that afternoon exercise while staying cool throughout. It doesn’t mean you won’t get tired but it does mean you’ll tax your body less in doing so.
2) Knocking Out SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can catch up with the best of us during long winter months. From gray skies to perennial cold, the inability to get out of the house and spend time outdoors plays games with our emotions and can cause many people to show signs of depression. One great way to knock this out is to maintain a healthy running schedule throughout the winter. Getting outdoors and pushing yourself releases endorphins that would otherwise be lost. Even shorter than usual runs, if done frequently enough, have been shown to boost positive moods that can effectively counter the effects of SAD. A solid winter regimen works wonders keeping you in good physical shape and mental shape, too.
3) Taking Evolution to Task
Scientific theory holds that humans have adapted to store more fat in winter months, stemming from an age-old need to stay warm when food was scarce. Because of this, our metabolisms are genetically prone to slow down during the colder seasons, causing us to add more weight than usual even if we are eating the same amount. While changing your diet can help combat the effects of this wintertime transformation, the best way to beat it outright is to keep your metabolism in high gear with an active running schedule. Vigorous exercise can convince the body that a slowdown is unnecessary and keep you from hanging on to those extra calories that often collect over the holiday months.
4) Winning the Mind Games
While running in cold weather definitely has its physical benefits, there is no doubting the fact that getting started is hard work. From a mental standpoint, simply peeling yourself away from the fireplace to layer up and sprint through the cold takes a certain level of fortitude that can be hard to find. The good news is, if you’re able to consistently motivate yourself to run outdoors in the coldest of months, come springtime you’ll be the toughest of the entire herd. During an intense spring training run or the grueling uphill on a summer 5k, the work you did during the winter time will have you mentally ready to tackle anything and gave you the extra edge against even the fiercest competition.
How do you get psyched to keep up your running routine through the winter months? Leave a comment and let us know.