Mother Winter

By Jennifer Goff

Woohoo!  You did it!  You just registered for the Greensboro Marathon!  You’re committed, you’re pumped, you’re lacing up your sneakers right now to go for a run because you’re so BADA$$, and you’re…

FREEZING.  Ahhhh, crap.

Hello, Mother Winter!  With eight months to go until the big day, there is still lots of time for quality training, but you want to put in those ever-so-crucial base miles now to keep your body aligned with your heart.  So, how do you manage this icy mama?  Follow these tips to put her in her place…

Getting…and Staying…Motivated
“Yay!  It’s 28 degrees out!  And there are 20 mph winds!  OMG, I can’t wait to run in this!” said no North Carolinian EVER.  Remember when it was 85 degrees and you were wishing for cooler weather?  Probably not.  Because it’s really freaking cold, and you can’t fathom that right now.  Remind yourself that NO day is perfect, and we aren’t guaranteed awesome weather on race day.  Training in all the elements is important because it teaches us to handle these unknowns.  Furthermore, racing a marathon or half-marathon is a CHALLENGE, so why expect the training to be easy?  So, put your bada$$ undies back on, grab a buddy (or two, or eight), map a route that ends somewhere awesome (personally, depending on the time of day, I like Starbucks or Mellow Mushroom), and reward yourself at the finish with gossip, a hot latte, and/or a “kosmic karma” pizza (yes, I did once go to Starbucks AND Mellow Mushroom…don’t judge).  Don’t forget to leave a car or have someone pick you up at your destination.  Oh, and remember… you now have bragging rights for the rest of the day.  “I ran 10 miles in 28 degrees this morning.  So, what did you do today?”

Big, Puffy, Cotton Sweatshirts are Nice and All…
…but for reals, save them for after your run.  If you’ve dressed properly, you’ll be cold for about the first 10 minutes of your run.  If you’re warm before you even start, you’re overdressed; if you’re still cold after 30 minutes, hmm, well, that sucks (but your bada$$ factor just increased!).  Think thin, technical/polyester (wicking) layers.  Cotton is rotten while running, dude!  It holds in your sweat like a mo-fo (trust me, you’ll be cursing if you run in that sweatshirt!).  Wear a tighter top on your core, put a wind and water resistant jacket or vest over top, and go for a tighter, long pant over your booty.  If you are colder in nature, consider another short-sleeve, technical layer in-between these two top layers.  Also, mind those appendages!  Have you ever tried to hit a button on your watch, and you couldn’t because you had no feeling in your fingers?  I’m speaking theoretically here; this has obviously never happened to me.  Right.  So yeah, hat up!  Glove up!  Go for the gloves that have mittens on top if need be!  Another trick:  put hand warmers in your gloves for the first few miles.  Just don’t tell your running buddies.  Hand warmers have been known to diminish your bada$$ factor.  …Or your buddies might tackle you and try to steal them.

Running with the Elephants
“OMG!  I have incessant snot running down my face, I can’t see because it’s so freaking dark out, and OMG!  Is it seriously starting to rain?  Why is the world conspiring against me?!”  …Ahh yes, the joys of running with all these uncontrollable, external elements, or as I prefer to call, external elephants:  they weigh on you big time and almost always leave you feeling gray.  So, first, let’s talk booger management.  Or, let snot (ß see what I did there?).  Right.  Mm’k, have you mastered the skill of the snot rocket yet?  No?  Let’s practice.  It’s pretty cold today, so chances are you have some booger buildup.  Step One:  With your right index finger, close your right nostril.  Step Two:  Blow.  Step Three:  Repeat on the other side.  Step Four:  Breathe.  Ahhhhh.  Feels pretty clear, right?  To make it even more fun, have snot rocket competitions with your buddies to see who can rocket the farthest while running.  You may want to carry a tissue or rag too in case any rocket debris lands on your arm.  As for the dark, if you run early in the morning or after normal work hours, PLEASE wear a light!  Head lamps, knuckle lights, waist band lights – there are so many options nowadays.  You deserve to see, and cars deserve to see you.  Furthermore, when choosing your (non-cotton) apparel, go for items with at least a little reflectivity, or consider adding a reflective vest to compete your wardrobe.  As for a run in the rain, you’ll already be wearing a water-resistant jacket, but complete the look with a brimmed hat, guaranteed to keep at least some of that water away from your face.  You’ll earn extra bada$$ points for completing this rainy run, and if you have thoughts of quitting, remember, you take showers, right?  If so, this isn’t much different.  If you don’t take showers, well, yeah, that’s a whole other conversation.  Finally, if conditions turn icy, consider holding off on your run until the roads clear.  Being a bada$$ is great and all, but being smart is of utmost importance.

Finally, remember that this weather is temporary!  Once spring has sprung and temperatures turn pleasant again, you’ll be so glad you built or maintained your base.  Already being in shape during good weather feels so much better than having to waste it getting in shape!



Jen Goff is a USATF Level 1 and RRCA Certified Running Coach at Fleet Feet/Off’n Running Sports in Greensboro, NC. She’s a 2:58 Marathoner, and former DI Cross Country and Track & Field Runner at Lehigh University.
Interested in more? Check out her personal blog at

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