I'm a fairly active 30 year old - I do yoga a few times a week plus hit the gym about twice per week. I've been contemplating signing up for a half-marathon, but don't think I can quite stomach outdoor winter running to train for it. I know I could wait for a fall run to train during the summer, but I have previously signed up for, and not completed, the half-marathon that is held annually in May here in Toronto, so I'd like that to be my goal (plus, I think it would be a great way to get in shape for the summer!). Any suggestions re: a training schedule that I could use Jan-Mar in the gym, until the weather gets a bit warmer and I can run outside?
Last year when I ran the Boston Marathon I stayed with a group of amazing runners from Toronto and all of them shared stories of their training runs on ridiculously cold days, which I cannot even fathom running in. However, they did it because they had set a goal and knew that they could not train indoors as marathons are run outside on the pavement, not on a treadmill.
I’m not saying you have to do all of your runs outside but if you plan on running a half marathon in May you need to do most of your runs outside. I love doing a race in May as it motivates you post Christmas and you are in great shape come summer. Out on the west (wet) coast we deal with rain, and although it is not minus 20, running in a torrential downpour is not fun. To prepare myself for these wet days I wear running hats to keep the rain out of my eyes as well as waterproof jackets and sometimes I even keep a second running outfit in my car (complete with shoes and socks) that I change into halfway into my run as I can become that wet running in this city. On the days where it is just unbearable to get outside, yes I resort to a treadmill but I do my best to keep those days to a minimum because on a treadmill it is not only boring but it is very easy to give up early and I know my treadmill run will not be nearly as beneficial for me as running outdoors.
You need to go get the proper gear that will allow you to run outdoors as much as possible on the days when it’s safe. Make sure you have an insulated jacket, like this one, a warm pair of tights, like these, gloves and even a balaclava on the coldest of days. Also, on the days it is icy put a pair of yaktrax on your shoes to prevent you from slipping. And one of my favourite tricks on the rare cold day here in Vancouver is I put my clothes in the dryer for a few minutes to warm them up before I head outside. I also will start my runs on the treadmill until I am warm and then head outdoors.
Getting to a start line represents all of the sacrifices you make and the battles you have won (or lost) with yourself throughout your training program. Running a half marathon was never meant to be easy because if it was we would all be doing it and no one would care when you crossed the finish line. This race will mean so much more to you if you face the elements and do all that you can to be the best you can be on race day, which means getting outside as much as you can from now until May. Good luck!
Attached - Katy Perry heading to the gym.