If you’re living in the Northeast and training for a spring race, you’re probably questioning your own sanity right about now. It’s cold, dark, the footing is treacherous, and it’s harder to convince your accountabilibuddies to join you. Even as the days begin to get longer, it’s still damn cold. The winter fatigue is enough to make you seriously consider the dreadmill, or maybe just conveniently forget about training for that April race until March. What could possibly go wrong?

We hear you. It’s a total grind to train long miles in February. But, if you can hang in there, and have the right gear (see our January post for tips! Winter Rogue Trotting), you will come out the other side of winter with a renewed appreciation for spring, and a tough mindset that will serve you well come race day! A few suggestions for getting over the hump in good spirits.

Don’t Rush: Even though it’s not always fun out there, make sure you’re following a reasonable training plan. There should be variability (hills, speed, long slow distance), but flexibility to adjust as needed due to extreme weather and how your body is responding. The temptation is to hustle through the miles just to get it done, but you’ll be well served to tune in to your body (as always), and use this section of training to get consistent and dialed in.

Test, assess, re-test: The lure of new gear or nutrition promising fabulous results is a real thing. Now is your opportunity to try new things while the stakes are relatively low. Even if you have a routine that has worked for you in the past, reassess. Your body changes over time, and what worked last season may not this season. Formulations and fit also change, so give your tried-and-true options some test runs, literally.

Consistency is key: We know you know. There is no substitute for time on feet however you manage to get it, but you have options. Ditch the long run for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. Your body will still get a great workout, and your mind may truly appreciate the change.

The benefits to training in February aren’t always obvious, but if you look, you will find them. You’ll be one of the very first to notice the early signs of spring, and the very real mental and physical boosts that you get from being outside and taking time for yourself to train are not to be underestimated. Spring races are made in the winter, so get out there!