Whether you’re new to running outdoors in the cold weather, or a hardy New Englander, we all hit a point in the season where we feel like we just can’t take another step. In Maine especially, we never know what we’re going to get. One day it’s mid-40s (shorts weather) and the next it’s -12 with a wind chill and we’re wearing so many layers range of motion becomes near impossible. These factors can often discourage the most dedicated of runners from outdoor winter training, but you are seriously missing out if you let that happen.

Though our training is often at the mercy of Mother Nature, don’t let her indecisive nature curb your running enthusiasm. Few training runs are harder to get motivated for than those cold mornings January through March, but few runs feel more earned. Here at the Grind Running Co., we’ve got to say – there’s just something about the cold air that rejuvenates. Here are our three reasons to sign up for a spring race in New England:

1. Winter training = bragging rights
Signing up for a spring race means you’re forced to train through the winter and it’s a truth universally acknowledged (in New England) that all winter storms happen on the weekend. If it’s not projected to snow anywhere from six inches to two feet, then it’s “the worst cold snap of the season.” Sidewalk running turns into hiking/running in car tracks, while a snow plow buries you. Or, in the case of a cold snap, you find yourself Googling pictures of frostbite – hoping one day you’ll feel your extremities again. Through it all, there’s nothing like accomplishing that run and logging it in Strava, with a snappy caption about how the cold/storm was invigorating, instead of terrifying. It’s okay. You’ve earned those bragging rights.

If nothing else, while you’re having your Monday morning conversation around the water cooler, you can casually bring up how you ran in that weekend’s Noreaster’

2. It fights the winter doldrums
The post-holiday drag is real. Once all the festivities have passed, it can be hard to find your rhythm and get back into a daily running schedule again. Signing up for a spring race will help enforce some running structure and instill a sense of purpose into your training. Instead of setting resolutions for the whole year, setting yourself up with a few spring races to work towards helps set the tone for how you’d like to rest of the year to play out – as well as help fight seasonal doldrums.

Additionally, one of the best things about running, in general, is being part of a running community. Portland has many different run and fitness clubs who are inclusive of all fitness levels. Not only will being part of a group help motivate your training, it will also help carry you through those dark, winter days.

3. Some of Maine’s best races are in the spring
The warming temperatures, budding trees, and longer days that signal the changing of seasons are some of the best times to start ramping up your running. Maine offers some truly amazing spring races, from coastal marathons to 5ks and ultras – there’s a spring race for everyone. Here at Grind Running Co., we’re excited to introduce our inaugural Brewshed Beer Run on Saturday, May 23. This 5-miler is a perfect race to get you out and moving through these last winter months, while setting the stage for the rest of your year. Best of all? Proceeds from this race will be donated to the Maine Brewshed Alliance. The Maine Brewshed Alliance, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, are committed to protecting the waters that make Maine a great place to live, work, and enjoy great beer!

Some days, winter running is just plain miserable. But having a structured goal can really help you stay on a sustainable running program for the rest of the year.