The winter seems to be full of acceptable excuses not to workout. The days are shorter. The Central Park water fountains don’t work. Bathing suit season is still several months away. House of Cards won’t watch itself.
And of course, the most tangible excuse to skip winter workouts of all: the world outside my apartment today looks like this:
Some runners appear unfazed by the snow and ice, lacing up anyways for a few loops of the park regardless of the precipitation. I, on the other hand, have little to no balance and appreciate the value of an unbroken ankle. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather keep my fitness routine and my storm systems separate. I think skeptical snow-dog Keira agrees.
So what to do if you’re training for two spring half marathons and the snow it still falling by the foot come March? I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered the art of maintaining peak fitness in the off-season or anything close to it, but I have learned a few tricks along the way to keep myself fitting into my skinny jeans (ok fine, skinny sweat pants) during New York City’s cruel five-month winter. Here’s what I recommend:
- Time Your Workouts. Weather apps have come a long way in recent years, with most now offering a fairly accurate hour-by-hour forecast for your five-digit zip code. Check tomorrow’s weather before you go to bed tonight, and if the snow isn’t going start until after 8 a.m., squeeze in a quick pre-work run before the storm hits. Likewise, if you see the sleet is going to let up for 60 minutes at mid-day, see if you can hit the park at lunch. The same goes for weekend long runs: I moved my regularly scheduled 8-miler from Sunday to Saturday this weekend since I could see what today’s forecast would bring. Knowing when the winter weather will be lightest and planning your workouts accordingly will help keep you on track even with a nor’easter barreling your way.
- Move It Inside. I hate the treadmill as much as the next athlete who was nearly murdered by a treadmill in recent history, but it can be a necessary evil during the first quarter of the year. In fact, I’ve even learned to enjoy it. Part of my past distain for the electric running machine was due to the fact that I was using it wrong: I was setting a single pace and plowing forward in unending tedium until the clock ran out. Up your fitness and your attention level by using your time indoors to practice important speed work skills, like tempo runs and intervals and even hill sprints. Put Guy Fieri on the TV in front of you and you’ll be guaranteed to run faster in an effort to end the torture sooner.
- Stay Home and Workout. Some snowy days, even walking the two (long, uphill) blocks to my gym is a chore. That doesn’t mean you can’t still work up a sweat. Pull up a workout video like this one on your apple TV. Or do yoga in your living room. Or binge watch New Girl and do squats every time Schmidt makes you laugh. Find your favorite show here and follow along, courtesy of my good friend Arianna H. You’ll have toned quads before Netflix can say “Hey, are you still watching?”
- Stay Home and Don’t Workout. Some winter days, you’ll get in a workout. Some winter days, you won’t. It’s a tough time of year, and to be honest, you should be proud you’re even considering some self-improvement during such a dreary month. If you don’t workout today, do something else good for the body or soul: curl up with your loved one or a good book, cook a healthy meal, get a good night sleep, and plan to try again tomorrow. March is too cold for lingering guilt.
Don’t believe me? Just ask my snow-adverse mascot.
How are you keeping at fighting weight this winter?