Ah, the smell of gingerbread filling the air. Powered sugar all over the kitchen counter- and yourself. Twinkling lights outlining the white picket fence. Another batch of Peppermint Bark. Snowmen about to be buried by yet another record-breaking snowfall. And feeling like an icicle as soon as we step outside. Welcome to Winter kids! As a runner training in the winter can be challenging. And down right shrinking for some of us. I happen to like cold weather running but I am sure some of you don't. Getting out of bed in the morning while it is still dark and 5.3 degrees outside makes you want to punch the alarm clock. Hard. So what are some ways that you can survive winter running & training without hibernating like a bear?

#1) Buddy System! Did you know that the buddy system isn't just for kids at school? Tis true!  Get your friends together & make it weekly (or bi-weekly) date. You will inspire each other to roll out of bed and hit the trail. Make a rule that if either person bails, they have to run an extra mile the next time. Or make breakfast. And if its your spouse, breakfast in bed ;)

#2) Spring Race! Pick a race for March that you can train for. Mark it on your calendar. Circle it in purple or your favorite color. Tell your friends about the race. By telling others that you are running a race you will hold yourself accountable.

#3) Right Gear! Seriously that right gear will make you either fall head over heels in love or result in a bitter breakup. Make sure you have sweat wicking gloves, hat, a Balaclava for really cold weather where you don't want to breathe -10 wind up your nose/mouth. And socks are key. If its especially frigid out where 2 pairs. I also swear by my MicroSpikes. You can actually run on ice! And a wind breaker/jacket will keep you toasty warm. Seriously check them out. And yes, they are better than YakTrak. You will prevent the mummy look- and feel- if you invest in a few key pieces of essential layers.

#4) Perspective! Yes, yes, life is not all roses & chocolate chips. But you know what? If you change the way you feel about the wicked cold, it will help your overall mood. And deal with your mother-in-law too. In theory. Its really not that bad once you start running. You will warm up. And that hot shower at the end? Priceless!

#5) Hide! Okay, I don't really mean to hide physically. But you can get away from the cold by taking a hike to a warmer zone. Running in the sun while your friends are shivering back home makes for sweet (sweat?) revenge.

#6) Try Something New! If there is really 6 feet of snow outside your doorstep (if you can find it!) running might not just happen. Time to change it up! Try yoga, Pilates, swim, weight lifting, indoor rowing, spin classes or indoor trainer, dancing- the ideas are endless. Cross training is the perfect way to challenge your muscles. And you'll probably find you become stronger at the end of 6 weeks!

#7) Read! Snowed in for the day? Take a breather and read. Chances are that your power might be off so your computer & TV won't work. Decompress and just chill- hopefully not literally though! Read up on training plans. Maybe a nutrition book. Or perhaps something lighthearted and fun.

#8) Shut up! Complaining about the weather won't make the sand & sun magically appear. Change your attitude about what is around you and embrace it. The power of positive thinking will go a long way. And it will help you to have a brighter outlook on life.

#9) Cook! If you do have electricity, whip out the recipes you've been dying to try. Always wanted to try Kale Chips? A healthy casserole? Well now is your chance! Its fun to play in the kitchen when the snow is falling outside. Shoveling will come later, so cook or bake something for when you come in afterwards!

#10) Help! There are many people who are living in shelters or on the streets. Make some time to go give them blankets, gloves, hats, socks. They probably don't enjoy freezing anymore then you do.

#11) Dryer! Throw your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes just before you head outside. Starting warm before you run won't make you stall getting outside.

#12) Treadmill! For those of you that really CAN NOT run outside (wimps) then use the treadmill. Here are a few rules though. A) Don't hold onto the rails B) Do speed work C) Do hill training D) Do intervals. Its a great way to mix up your training and get some quality workouts in.

#13) Kids! Get your kids involved in the fun! Maybe its running around throwing snowballs. Maybe shoveling snow. Or building a snowman family. Complete with Fido. Or maybe trade childcare time for running time with a mom/dad who has small kids. This is a really great & wonderful gift to give & receive!

I hope these 12 ways help you deal with the cold. It might not be a piece of cake to stumble out of bed and face 19 degrees at 5:30am, but the feeling you have when you return? Well that is better than a Gingerbread Latte any day!

Sarah Stanley is a professional endurance athlete who prefers cold weather running vs hot weather. She is passionate about living a healthy life, helping others and great causes. Follow her on Twitter @sarahstanley & @RunRideInspire. For more inspiration & practical advice sign up for her newsletter.

Photo by tonydolor

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