It’s no secret that training through a Chicago winter is tough. But if I’m being honest, winter is my favorite season to train in. I just think you have to be prepared.
1. Have people to meet.
I am way more likely to get up early on a cold Saturday morning if I’m going to meet friends. It’s so easy to cancel on yourself. You can just roll over, hit snooze, and say you’ll run later. In the summer I always want to go early to beat the heat, but that isn’t an issue in the winter. So, having a group or a few friends to meet is way more motivating.
2. Be flexible
If ice is bad on Saturday, run on Sunday. If you know a snowstorm will hit at the weekend, maybe run longer during the week. Weather is unpredictable during Chicago winters, but I try my best to plan my schedule so I can run safely and outdoors. I am not a treadmill person, so I’ll do whatever it takes to be outside. Most of the time, this requires me to be flexible.
3. Have the right gear.
I’ll expand more on this later, but having warm gear makes a huge difference for winter running. I swear by a wool base layer, fleece tights, wool socks, and proper shoes. You’ll want to keep your feet as comfortable as possible. When my feet are cold, my whole body is cold.
I’ve been running in the new Mizuno WAVEKNIT R2s recently and can attest that they fit wool socks nicely and do a good job of keeping my feet warm. Since they’re so light to start, they don’t feel as weighed down by snow or rain. Finding the right shoes is crucial for being a happy runner anytime of year.
4. Make your goals prominent.
I try to put motivation on my refrigerator so I see it every day. I write out my time goals, my goal race and put something up from the race itself. It motivates me to get outside when I see that in the morning before I go face the cold.
5. Sign up for a couple fun races.
I think a warm weather destination race is a great escape from winter. I usually go somewhere for a fun race in February for my birthday and I look forward to it through all my December/January training. I think I’m more motivated when I have a fun race in the future. Try it!