How to Love Your Winter Body: 4 Tips for Runners
It was one of those runs.
The wind was biting at the skin on my face and my legs felt the sting of the cold air. Despite the layers and body heat I had generated over the last 5 miles, I still didn’t feel quite “warmed-up”.
Some days I have bursts of energy – spending more time indoors in the winter will do that for you. Other days… these winter days… the days that are shorter, darker, colder, damper, and heavier… I feel the same as the clouds hanging over the western Pennsylvania sky.
Heavy and slow.
As I finished the run and slowed to a walk towards the car, I had a moment of frustration with how I felt. I wondered, “am I getting out of shape? Why did that feel so hard?” Then a wiser voice from the summer days of warm sunshine and late sunset runs whispered to me, “No honey, this is your winter body.”
Ah, yes. This is my winter body.
She is a little more sluggish some days, especially when the clouds are low and heavy.
She tends to be less motivated to move fast in the cold.
She wants to turn inward and craves warm things like cookies fresh out of the oven. She also craves hot vegetable soup instead of salad, and warm tea instead of ice cold water.
This is my winter body. So, rather than be discouraged, disgusted, or disappointed, the question is, “how can I love the body I’m in for the season I’m in?”
Today I’m sharing some tips on nurturing your body as a runner during the colder seasons, taking care of yourself to feel more balanced, and loving on the amazing runner you are. Because it’s really about being present and running the miles you love to run, in every season, right?
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How to Love Your Winter Body
- Slow Down: It’s ok to take it easy. Nobody can go all out, 100% of the time. No runner feels energized on every single run. Listen to your body and know when it’s time to take an easy day, or a rest day. If you’re taking the pace slower, pay more attention to your body and how the effort feels (i.e. leave the Garmin at home). If you’re focused on pace, you might get discouraged by the numbers and start comparing today to one of those other days when conditions were different, your mood was different, your body was at a different time of the month, and you can’t compare how you feel today to how you are on a different day. Embrace the cues to go slower because the day will come when you’re ready for speed.
- Warmer Smoothies: If your go-to post run or workout drink is a cold smoothie with frozen fruit, you might feel more balanced, stay warmer, and have better digestion by adding some warming ingredients. Let the fruit un-thaw and run it under warm water to take off the chill. Instead of adding raw kale, chard, or spinach – try steaming your greens first. Lightly steaming your leafy greens kick-starts the digestive process for you. It also helps break down the cellular structure of vegetables which may increase nutrient absorption. Here’s some warming winter smoothie and juice recipes for you!
- Essential Oils: Use “warming” essential oils to promote circulation. Ginger, cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, birch, and cassia are great for circulation. Keep in mind that they can also be “hot” on the skin undiluted, so always add a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil to help dilute the oil and for better absorption.
Do you tend to have cold hands and feet before or after a run?
Try adding a drop of one of the essential oils above, along with several drops of fractionated coconut oil or your preferred carrier oil and rub your hands together or massage into the skin. On top of being warming to the body, Wintergreen and Birch help soothe occasional aches and pains, Clove and Cassia are great for immunity, and Ginger essential oil can help ease tummy troubles (apply over the abdomen).
If you’re wanting to dive in to natural health and using essential oils, click here to download my free guide
- Cross-train: Avoid burn out and keep your running and workouts fresh by doing other activities in the winter! I love cross-country skiing in the winter to switch things up. Here’s a video I made with some great stretches for runners and skiers to do while you’re out. Strength training is another area that many of us runners neglect, and the winter is a perfect time to do more of this indoors, so you’ll feel stronger and more ready for the next phase of your training! Think about the strength, flexibility, or balance you could improve in this “off-season” by adding another set of exercises or activity to your routine. Here’s a workout to get you started.
Embrace the season.
Move with ease.
Flow with the snow, and remember…
Inspire one of your sole sisters!
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