Training through the winter can get exhausting 😪

Coach Sandi Nypaver grew up in the Midwest and has spent the past decade living in Colorado, so she’s no stranger to snow. For today’s newsletter, she’ll discuss the importance of being flexible during your winter training:

When I prepare for races in the Colorado winters, one thing has become abundantly clear: flexibility is key in winter training. While I eagerly await the snowfall, it can sometimes get a bit tricky to schedule my training runs around the weather. It’s not the snow that bothers me; it’s the ice – running on it is an absolute nightmare.

Colorado Weather

In Colorado, our weather patterns can be erratic. We experience intense cold and snow, followed by sudden spikes in temperature during the day and freezing conditions at night. Consequently, our trails often transform into treacherous ice slides, and even our sidewalks aren’t spared.

Despite the challenges, there are moments when winter running here feels magical. However, I’ve come to understand the importance of adaptability. I’ve witnessed fellow athletes pushing themselves relentlessly through the winter grind, driven by a commendable Midwest mentality. But I’ve learned that pushing too hard can lead to burnout and injury. So, while I embrace the Midwestern work ethic, I also recognize the value of listening to my body and adjusting my training accordingly. Flexibility, after all, is the key to thriving in any season.

I have a deep appreciation for “grinding it out,” pushing through regardless of the weather conditions. In the past, I’ve faced blizzards and negative temperatures head-on, determined to maintain my training regimen. However, I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between dedication and burnout.

Burnout Due to Cold Weather

I’ve witnessed this mental exhaustion in myself and in other athletes. By the time spring or summer rolls around, the enthusiasm wanes, and I’m left drained. It’s a cycle I’m keen to break. While I sometimes aim for higher mileage, I’ve come to understand the importance of listening to my body. If the winter proves particularly harsh and running becomes more of a chore than a joy, I allow myself the flexibility to scale back. After all, running should bring fulfillment, not frustration.

This approach aligns with what I advise my athletes: listen to your body’s cues. Progress shouldn’t feel forced; it should come naturally as you find your rhythm and comfort level with your current mileage.

There’s a Balance to Be Found

It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting strict performance benchmarks. However, I’ve learned that true success in running isn’t solely determined by hitting specific mileage targets or completing a set number of speed workouts each week. Instead, it’s about finding a balance that nurtures both physical and mental well-being.

Rushing into things or pushing ourselves too hard can indeed lead to injury or a decline in performance quality. There’s a delicate balance to strike between ambition and patience.

I’ve experienced firsthand the consequences of pushing beyond my body’s limits – from injuries to a decline in form. It’s a scenario I’m eager to avoid repeating. My primary objective is to achieve speed without sacrificing enjoyment along the way. Maintaining that balance is crucial. Even on the toughest days, finding humor and lessons in the struggle can make all the difference. Embracing the journey, rough patches and all, is key. Each obstacle is an opportunity to grow and improve.

I hope this helps you a little bit as we all continue to run through winter, together!

Happy running!

– Coach Sandi Nypaver