Winter Running/Triathlon Training Tips

By Coach Lora Erickson,

As a runner and triathlete for over 28 years I am a big advocate for cross training; it’s always fun to throw new things into workouts to keep them fun and fresh.  Winter is the perfect opportunity to do this.  Some of the things you might consider including are:  snowshoeing, new gym classes, cross-country skiing, elliptical, indoor cycling, yoga, swimming, indoor surfing etc.

Outdoor Running Tips & Gear

While it’s fun to add new things; it is still important to include key workouts to maintain sport specific fitness.  Running is probably one of the most important activities and can be utilized in nearly every sport.  Personally I prefer to run outside even in the winter; simply I love the outdoors and running on a treadmill utilizes muscles differently than outdoor running.  I believe that if I want to do well in races I need to mimic conditions I face, so outdoor running is best.  However, there are several barriers when it comes to running outdoors.  In the 28 years I have run and competed I have not fallen from slipping on ice, so if you are careful you can do it safely.  To do this I usually try to land more flat footed and minimize my calf push-off.  This gives me more surface contact, and while it might slow me down it keeps me from slipping.  I often look for areas that have been plowed or shoveled or are dry.  If you do run in the road you should be facing oncoming traffic and be mindful not to impede drivers or cause them to go into other lanes with oncoming traffic.  When I first started running outdoors years ago we didn’t have nearly the selection of tights and gloves/hats etc that are now readily available.  We now have everything we need to run out door all winter in any kind of weather.  Usually I wear a pair of tights, a double layer on the top with a hat/ear warmers and gloves do the trick for me.  If it’s below 30 I add a light jacket (the 3rd layer).  If I am going to be running in deep snow, a great workout, I often wear gators to keep the snow out of my shoes.  I also recommend using trail running shoes in the winter as they are less “airy”, more “water proof” and get better traction.  Wearing reflective gear and lights are always a bonus with the reduced daylight in cold weather months and make you more visible to traffic and others.

Treadmill Running

I realize that some people, especially Moms with young children are often confined to running on a treadmill at home or in the gym while others just prefer running indoors because of the weather or inversion.  If you do choose a treadmill workout, I would suggest exploring the interval workout feature on your treadmill at least once a week.  This will improve your speed in races.  Be sure to also do a pace workout like a tempo or steady-state run once a week.  Treadmills are great for this because they give you constant feedback.  It may be boring and difficult to get that long run in on the treadmill once a week, but you might consider splitting it up and doing the first part on the treadmill and then adding an extra layer and gloves and heading outdoors and finishing up your run that way.  Be aware that while the temperature change may feel great at first, realize it can dissipate your heat quickly leaving you chilled, so remember to dress in layers to allow for adjustments as needed.  Also, be careful when you start to run outdoors regularly after putting a lot of miles in on a treadmill over the winter.  Allow your body to adjust by easing in so you don’t end up injured.  Running outdoors is generally harder on your body than using a treadmill so I recommend reducing your overall mileage by 10-15% the first 2-3 weeks to allow your body to adapt.  Treadmills often provide more “give” or cushion than the non-forgiving asphalt or concrete.  Trail running is another great option to help you adapt quicker.

Staying Motivated

Staying motivated can also be a challenge in the winter, but one of the best ways to stay motivated is to have some units of measure that show that you are making progress.  For example do a timed mile every week and try to improve it.  Or do as many push-up as you can do in a minute and test yourself each week.  Also, keep in mind that “summer bodies are earned in the winter.”  It takes work and consistent effort to make progress.  Decide in your mind that exercise and eating right will be a part of your day once-and-for-all instead of debating it with yourself every day.  This way you are spending your time figuring out what works best for your schedule instead of “IF” you are going to exercise.  Don’t make it a matter of “if” but “when”.   Be strong in your resolve so you can surpass all those that give-up shortly after the New Year has begun.  Do it for your long term health and to feel better.  A little time spent in the gym now can mean more healthy time with your family in the future.

Stay Accountable

Training with others and hiring a coach that will keep you accountable is also a great way to stay motivated and make measureable progress.  As a USATF certified running & triathlon coach for over 18 years I have seen huge improvement with my athletes that would otherwise struggle to go at it alone and did for some time with disappointing results.  With coaching help they were able to exceed their goals and reach new levels of success and achievement.  As I always like to say, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”  Becoming informed is more than just reading books and searching the internet.  You can’t replace experience and in-person support.  A coach can really open your eyes to new ways of training and push you to your own true potential.  Coaches are often the needed cheerleader to provide the support on your health journey needs.  You don’t have to be an advanced athlete to hire a coach; many “average non-athletes” have become elite athletes because of coaching help.  Beginners should be encouraged to seek out coaching assistance.  Come join one of my classes or coach team training programs and get the information and training you need to stay motivated and excel.

Live Well & Stay Healthy,

Coach Lora  

Coach Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner is a USATF certified running coach and nationally ranked triathlete.  She loves the opportunity to work with athletes to help them reach their true potential.  She has swimming, running, triathlon and nutrition classes and programs available.  To learn more about how you can get involved in her classes or services visit or contact her at

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Coach Lora Erickson is an Ironman All-World athlete and certified running and triathlon coach recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa in 2018. Lora was born and raised in Colorado and was to run for the University and Utah & Utah State University where she obtained a degree in Community Health Education with duel minors in Chemistry and Nutrition. Coach Lora has a true passion for health promotion and loves to share her experiences. Learn more: About Coach Lora Erickson