Winter Workout Plan

I haven’t done a fitness post in a while, and since a lot of us change up our workouts for the winter, I thought I’d share how I’ll be transitioning into the cold weather without giving up my daily sweat.

I am lucky enough to be able to afford a gym membership at the YWCA (at least with the student discount price). I love the Y, first and foremost because when you become a member you get a little ID card that says “Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women.” ;) Although those things certainly require more than providing money to important community programs, it still feels cool to belong to something that promotes those values. :)

some of the awesome stuff my Y helps organize.

The Y is also great because it means I can keep up my every-other-day running routine. After my hamstring injury–and after running a half-marathon on my torn hamstring–I finally made the decision to be smarter about running. “Smarter about running” just means doing what works best for your body. And I’ve learned that, for me, running daily is usually pretty painful on my torn up hammy. So instead I alternate running with yoga, strength-training and circuit-training.

But running outside in Minneapolis in the winter can be next to impossible. I used to run outside all winter when I lived in Chicago, but even those winters weren’t as brutal as ours up here in the north country. Not only are there days when it’s dangerously cold (40 below, I’ve lived through it), but the amount of snow and ice is insurmountable. I tried to run on an icy/snowy sidewalk a few years ago, but I was so focused on not slipping that I barely got my heart rate up. No good.

And so, the treadmill it is. I don’t love the treadmill. It’s boring and seems to hurt my knees more. But I hate not-running more than the treadmill, and so I grin and bear it. Some tips to making the treadmill more enjoyable:

1. Find the treadmill by the TV programmed to the Food Network.

2. Make sure your playlist includes songs that say the word “run” in it, because I guarantee that it will make you want to crank up the speed and sprint for a bit.

3. Mix it up with interval bursts.

(Okay, maybe that first one is just me?). I just got motivated to try #3 last year after reading an article in SELF magazine about Minka Kelley’s treadmill routine. Although I hate Minka Kelley’s character, Lilah, on Friday Night Lights, I decided not to hold that against her workout plan. I did it all last winter and noticed that my legs started to look a bit more slender, in contrast to the bulky muscle I developed when I was training for the half-marathon. The interval speed training gets your heart rate to go up and down, which leads to mega calorie burn, and the ability to keep your muscles guessing. If you don’t feel like clicking on the link, here’s a breakdown of the plan:

1 minute at 5.0
1 minute at 5.5
1 minute at 6.0
1 minute at 6.5
1 minute at 7.0
1 minute at 7.5
1 minute at 8.0
2 minutes at 4.5
Repeat five times.

(I tend to get bored with the 4.5 speed, so I usually do 1 minute at 4.5, and 2 minutes at 5.0).


When I’m not running at the gym (and cooling down by reading guilty-pleasure gym magazines books relevant to my dissertation on the stationary bike), I’m swimming! I fell in love with the Y’s pool, which has a UV system to reduce chlorine irritants. Swimming is a great workout, and I noticed changes in my body doing that last winter too.

If you’re not able to join a gym, never fear! As I’ve talked about before, I’m a HUGE advocate for at-home workouts. In this post, I provide an overview of some of my favorite workout dvds, and plug, which is worth repeating, because it is AMAZING. (I’ve been telling everyone I know to try the Dead Man Burpee Challenge; I try to do this at least twice a week. Seriously, most amazing/intense ten minutes of your life).

And last but not least: yoga. As I’ve mentioned before, yoga kind of changed my life. And even though parts of me want to vom when I make statements like that, I’m gonna say it, ’cause it’s true. Some affordable yoga options:

1. go online! there are yoga resources that can guide you through a free at-home practice. A good place to start? The Yoga Journal wesbite.

2. buy a yoga dvd.

3. sign up for groupon! seriously, this is how i’ve managed to afford yoga for the last year. yoga studios are constantly giving away discounted packages through services like Groupon (or Living Social, or whatever social coupon site is in your city). i’m currently on a two-month unlimited package at the lovely Moksha Yoga studio, which i got through Living Social for $65!!!!

i can hold this pose now!

So what does this all look like in a week? Usually something like this:

M: Strength-training (class at the Y, or dvd)/abs (1 hr+). Yoga (1 hr)

T: Running (45 min)/Bike (15 min.)/Abs (10 min). Swimming (25 min).

W: Circuit training (Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30/ workout)/abs (1 hr+). Yoga (1 hr). OR “active rest day” with 1 hr yoga.

Th: (repeat T)

F: (repeat W)

S: Jillian DVD while Mike eats breakfast (25 min). Head over to the Y to run/bike/swim. (Mike and I really value our weekend Y time; “couples that sweat together, stay together!”)

Su: Repeat Saturday OR “active rest day” with 1 hr yoga.

I take one active rest day a week, with a yoga class. This is sort of a big deal for me, because I used to have melt-downs if I was forced to take a rest day. Now I sort of like them. :)

How about you? What’s your plan for the winter? Do you like rest days? How do you feel about treadmills? Do you like swimming?

Happy sweating!

2 thoughts on “Winter Workout Plan

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