The days may be shorter and the temperatures dipping, but that’s no reason to go into full hibernation mode this winter. In fact, for the thousands of people who sign up for winter fun runs—from 5ks to half marathons—the colder winter months are the perfect season to lace up the running shoes and hit the streets, trails, and beaches. Whether it’s your first winter fun run or your fiftieth, we’ve got some training tips to help you cross the finish line in top form.
First things first, sign up
It’s easy to say you’re all in on a winter fun run. But when it’s time to put on your winter workout wear and hit the pavement, that resolution might falter. Our solution? Commit with your wallet, and then spread the word. If you’ve invested in the race—financially and socially—you’re that much more likely to lace up and prepare for it.
Find a workout buddy
When it comes to running, consistency is key. So, call up a buddy to help keep you on track. We already know the benefits of group exercise classes. Running with a friend or a running group adds a level of social accountability. Plus, it helps you gauge your pace. To stay in your cardiac training zone, you should be running at a speed that lets you maintain a conversation.
Switch things up
Your other secret weapon is variation. Alternating your distance, pace, and the time you spend running prepares your body to tackle anything race day throws your way. We recommend alternating timed runs (start small if you’re just starting out!), distance-based runs, and speed interval workouts. This variation will also help keep you from zoning out during your workouts.
Stretching is key
We love running because it’s so easy. All you need is a good pair of shoes and the open road (or treadmill). But running well is about more than putting one foot in front of the other. It requires full-body strength, coordination, and flexibility. That’s why the ideal training program incorporates restorative strength and flexibility training.
Sure, you could stretch on your own (and should—after every run). But a mat class like yoga or Pilates helps target every runner’s problem areas: the legs, hips, and lower back. Want to deepen your practice? Consider signing up for a complimentary one-on-one yoga and fitness consultation during December. Working mindful stretching into your training routine will help keep your gait smooth and pain-free.
Don’t forget. It’s supposed to be fun
Whether you’re running for a personal best, just want to maintain your pace from start to finish, or signed up as a way to get outside this winter, fun runs are supposed to be just that: fun. Don’t forget to take in the sights and excitement of running in Santa Barbara.