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Learning to love your off-season running

Running on ice crusted streets during months with no races is a tough sell. Here's how to learn to love winter running.

Running in forest

Running against winds on ice-crusted streets– it’s a tough sell. Staying consistent these months is a task for even the most dedicated of runners. We have a whole winter ahead of us to weather and when the calendar is void of race dates for at least a few months, the motivation can dip even more than the mercury. 

Comparing winter to summer is a losing battle. Instead of focusing on what makes winter running so hard, learn to appreciate the off season for what it is. Need a little help? Here’s why we love staying fit at this time of year: 

Testing new activities comes without consequence. 

In the middle of fall when race season is in full swing, it can be a bad idea to take part in that sport you always wanted to try. Trying a new physical activity for the first time two weeks before race day can be careless but in winter, big events are months away. You don’t have to be extra delicate with your body. Sign up for ski lessons or go boxing– whatever suits you.


Don’t believe us? Take a tip from Olympic marathoner Krista DuChene. “I recently fully suited up for some recreational hockey with my husband and kids. Rather than coasting with extreme caution, like I’m covered in bubble wrap, I actually skated with effort,” she says. “It was very freeing, to be able to skate without concern and know that if I broke another bone, well…who cares?”

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Winter running feels more adventurous.

When the grounds are snow-covered and runners have to keep an eye out for ice lurking in our path, speed becomes less of a focus. Suiting up for winter running is a task in and of itself. It feels more adventurous to get out for a winter run when the elements are so stubbornly against us. As a result, runners can appreciate the feeling of accomplishment when keeping at it. 

RELATED: Conquering season-related motivational dips

Chillier months are a natural time for reflection and refocusing. 

Evaluate what worked with your training last season and what didn’t. Decide which areas will be good to focus on during this natural downtime. Recreational and competitive runners alike can practice this. “Four-season running is built-in adaptation for the body,” says Pan Am athlete Rachel Hannah. “With a goal of lowering personal bests over decades, winter running can be refreshing to focus on new strength and endurance, increased volume and hill work.”

It’s acceptable to take the casual approach.

Are you someone who puts all of your effort into running in fall and spring? It’s only natural then to enjoy winter running pressure free. “In the off season, I also enjoy a bit more time to myself, a change in routine, and the availability to engage in speaking events or other community activities that I normally wouldn’t have time for,” says DuChene.