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5 Alternatives to Winter Running

breathing exercise running strength training Dec 15, 2020

[We're excited to introduce monthly blog posts from our running and respiration coach, Amanda Bauer!]

I am currently sitting at my dining room table.

The familiar and cozy scent of freshly brewed coffee gently beckons my attention from my immediate task. I smile as my hands curl around my favorite mug and bring the soothing liquid to my lips. Then I groan. I catch a glimpse of the raging snowstorm off my patio. The snow seems to come in sideways and there is already a 5-inch accumulation on the railing. I sigh and let out a little whimper.

I will not be going for my Saturday Run.  As the winter months rage on motivation to bundle up and brave the cold and ice wanes. See, I am NOT one of those die-hards that will go out no matter what. I crumble at the sight of icy sidewalks and snow-covered trails. My running shoes will stay dry and rested at the front door.


And, you know what?

That lack of motivation to freeze your cheeks and brave the ice for a run doesn’t make you any less of a runner, in fact, you can use that to get BETTER at running!


BUT First:  Get Cozy!

Drink the warm liquids. Gather the blankets. Bundle up and savor the safety and comfort of real rest. Taking breaks from running is a good thing! I am talking a couple weeks, not just a few days. Think of it like a team sport. Your brain can let the “running program” sit on the bench for a bit while other movement and motor programs get a chance to ‘run.’ This allows the entire system to create more efficient and effective strategies.

Once you've indulged in some cozy rest that winter beckons for us, here are my favorite alternatives to winter running that will make sure you stay in tip top running shape once you're ready to revisit it in the spring.


5 Alternatives to Outdoor Running in the Winter:


1. Have a Kettlebell Party!

... especially if you’d like to keep your aerobic capacity. The point of running long distances during training is to delay the onset of fatigue. So, you can build strength and endurance by being a little sneaky with your swinging routine. Turn on a tv-show, a podcast, or wait for cookies to bake. Every minute on the minute, perform low repetition and heavier 1 handed swings. Use the rest of the minute to recover. I do this in the summer between sessions for a little squirt of endorphins to keep me alert. The trick? Put power into each *perfect* repetition.


2. Couch Cardio! Breathe Light, Breathe Strong 

What’s the limiting factor of exercise? Breathing! It’s the quickest way your brain can tell you to “Slow down and go get cozy on your couch!”  

Ever do a bunch of burpees but need to rest because you get that out of breath feeling? Take out the part where your lungs start burning and sweat trickles down your brow and start training your breathing muscles.

  • Train yourself to get down to taking only 5 breaths per minute. (Then go for 3!)
  • Increase the strength in your breathing muscles with targeted horizontal breathing exercises.
  • Develop greater endurance by practicing light breathing and air hunger drills.

The best apart about breathwork? You can do this from your couch if it pleases you!

*Not sure how to get started with breathwork? Coach Amanda teaches you everything you need to know in our Breathing 101 8-week series. Learn more here.


3. Get used to the weather FIRST: Hike, walk, snowshoe:

It isn’t just you! Everyone needs a little time to acclimate to a new climate! Give your body and your brain at least two weeks to adapt.  When you aren’t ready to tackle the deep freeze with your Nike’s, get at it with your snow pants, mittens and thick warm boots.


4. Develop your Stride with Cross training

Our brains LOVE to understand how our bodies move and better yet, they love to be able to control those movements.

Take some time, sit down with your favorite beverage and revisit your runs over the past few months. Did your knees constantly feel weak after a certain amount of time or distance? Nagging pain anywhere in your heels, knees or hips? Develop a training plan to target those tricky spots and get strong. Cross training doesn’t have to take hours, it doesn’t have to be reps and sets and timed intervals.

Remember that strength is a skill. And your training, only has to work for you.


5. Practice your Balance and Hopping skills

Running is just a series of pushing off of 1 leg and falling on the other. So, if you could balance really well on 1 leg and get even better at it, that is just one more thing your brain doesn’t have to worry about when you get back to lacing up and feeding your soul with your soles!

Think of things like balancing with your eyes closed, moving your head in different positions and yes, you guessed it. Hopscotch. You don’t need chalk, just a floor that won’t scare your downstairs neighbors.


But most importantly...

Remember to have fun with your training and your movement practices!


Until next time,
Amanda Bauer
Forest Coaching Breathing and Running Expert
Follow her @amanda_willrun4cookies



Want to breathe better or improve your running practice? Talk to Amanda today!





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