Get Back on Track

By Douglas R. Dirschl, MD

The combination of cold, ice, and snow can make it difficult to stay on track with a running routine. But facing a setback doesn’t mean you’re doomed to lose your momentum entirely. If you’ve hit a winter weather wall, here are some tips to help get you back on track.

  • Cross train. If you recently overcame an injury or are still recovering, make sure to cross train to maintain your fitness. Strength training, core work, foam rolling and/or stretching can also improve your running form and economy after you heal. Once you are ready to run again, be careful not to do too much, too soon. Listen to your body and don’t get discouraged if you have to reduce your mileage or speed. It is better to be safe than injure yourself again and be forced to take even more time off.
  • Sign up for a race. Having a goal - whether it’s a 5K or an ultramarathon - will help keep you focused and motivated during bad weather. Pick a training program that’s specifically designed to help you reach your race goal so you can stay accountable and avoid injury.  Find a race today.
  • Recruit a friend. Reach out to your support system to find a running buddy and then ask him or her to sign up for a race with you. If they’re new to running, look at this as a rewarding chance to introduce someone to your sport. If they’re more advanced (or faster) than you, this can motivate you to keep up with them. Either way, you can work together to hold each other accountable. Even if your friends aren’t runners, they can still help - ask them to check up on you once a day for a few weeks.
  • Use social media. Most runners use some sort of app to track their runs. For an added layer of accountability, let your social network know you are working on a goal and share your results. You might find that you receive lots of encouragement, and possibly even a new running buddy, especially if you use the #runchi or #runCARA hashtags on Twitter.  
  • Join a running group. CARA offers many opportunities to join other runners training for races. For a list, click here. There are also meet-ups, local neighborhood running groups, and fun runs out of almost any running store in town. People in this city love to run! Let their enthusiasm be infectious.
  • Don’t abandon your routine because of a bad day. If your life gets in the way of running, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes our bodies just need a rest. Stay positive and pick up where you left off. Meanwhile, make sure you don’t try and make up for missed workouts or mileage. This can lead to injuries, overtraining, and junk miles – none of which will do you any good.

Getting out of a running routine due to injury, work demands, and life changes is normal. So keep your chin up and remember, spring is right around the corner!