If the weather outside isn't really that bad but you aren't feeling up to being cold for the duration of your planned run, then stay inside. The bottom line: There are a couple instances where you have to stay inside—when the footing is unsafe or there is a chance of frostbite—but other times, you need to decide if you want to brave the elements. If you're fired up for an adventure, head outdoors, but there will be days when you'll want to save your energy for the next big workout, so you should stay inside.
Should You Complete Workouts Outside or Inside?
When it comes to workouts in the winter, footing is the big issue. Can you run the pace of your workout or long run outside? If the answer is no, then you have to stay inside. While the reality is that you need to complete workouts on the treadmill because icy/snowy footing makes it unsafe outside, you can do your long runs outside because your pace for these should be much slower than your workout pace. Obviously every situation is different, but the good news is you can often complete your longest run of the week outside.
Gear Up for the Cold
How can you complete your longest run of the week outdoors when it's freezing out? Invest in good winter running clothing. Are they expensive? Yes. Are they worth it? Absolutely. You don't have a choice—you either invest in warm clothing that wicks away moisture, and layer as much as needed to endure a long run in the cold, or you run the risk of getting so cold that you can't finish the long run. This can take some fine-tuning, especially if you're like me and you sweat profusely.
Take the time not only to invest in good clothing, but also to dial in what you need in terms of base and outer layers. There's a Goldie Locks-style balance to finding the right combination of base and outer layers. And get a great pair of gloves and hat because you lose the most heat through your extremities.
How to Make Gains When You're Stuck Indoors
Most runners fail to use winter as an opportunity to build their levels of general and functional strength. If you're one of those runners, you might regret this decision when you increase your mileage in the spring and summer, and you aren't ready to handle it.