two women smiling while running in the snow in a park.

9 Tips for Indoor Running During the Winter Months

It’s not always easy to stick to a running routine when the winter months roll around. Regardless of where you live in the winter months, whether you have tons of snow, just a little rain, or simply darker, shorter days, winter can impact your running routine.

Making the switch to indoor running can be bumpy, but it doesn’t have to be. Transitioning indoors should be an opportunity to get stronger, and faster, and find new and exciting ways to keep your body healthy! Here are some tips to get you started as you transition to indoor exercise.

Updated on 06/14/2022

Where should I run this winter?

Man running indoors looking out the window.

Online running can make indoor running more engaging and entertaining. Virtual simulators let you run inside while exploring different environments from a screen. This way, you can run from the comfort of your home but feel like you’re exploring somewhere else entirely.

If you plan to use a virtual simulator or online running platform, be sure you have the right equipment to get started. Some may require additional equipment. With Vingo, you can start running and exploring right away from whatever space and with any treadmill. Learn more about our setup here.

Is indoor running effective?

Older gentlemen running indoors on a treadmill.

If you’re accustomed to running outside, running indoors on a treadmill may not be too enticing. But indoor running is just as effective as outdoor running. And in many ways, it’s easier to control things like your pace and, of course, your running environment. Plus, with indoor running, you never have to worry about the weather getting in the way of your training plans. You can even customize your running route more efficiently without the hassle of driving to a specific location.

When it’s all said and done, using a treadmill is one of the best and easiest ways to train indoors for running. If you’re concerned that treadmill running won’t prepare you well for an event or that it’s just easier than outdoor running, you can adjust your treadmill’s settings to get a more challenging run. According to a research study in the Journal of Sports Sciences, setting your treadmill to a 1 percent grade most accurately simulates outdoor running at certain speeds.1

Below, we’ve listed some ideas for enhancing your indoor running experience. Whether your goal is to have fun or improve your endurance, speed, strength, and overall physical health, we can help you do it.

9 tips for indoor running

After you’ve set up your treadmill and any online running tools you need, here are a couple of tips to help make the transition to indoor winter workouts smoother.

1. Start slow if you can.

Group of men running outside during the winter.

If the weather permits, try to mix it up at first. Instead of switching to an indoor running routine all at once, do a mixture of indoor and outdoor training, whether you split it 50:50 or complete at least one indoor run a week. The nice thing about doing it this way is that when you switch to only running indoors, it won’t feel as drastic. It also gives you time to figure out how your indoor training can support your outdoor exercise and vice versa.

2. Set a goal for the winter months.

Goals written with a red marker in notebook.

Any time of the year is a great time to set goals, but creating a winter goal can help keep you motivated through the winter months. When setting a goal, think about what will be challenging and attainable. For example, you may want to think about a specific distance or time goal you can work towards on the treadmill. Or, perhaps come up with a less performance-based goal like improving your lifestyle habits, such as your nutrition or hydration.

3. Stick to a schedule.

Woman Writing on her Paper Calendar

Most of us tend to move more in the summer months. Creating a schedule for your running routine can help keep you accountable in the winter. So, instead of letting yourself slack off during the winter months, make a plan and stick to it! If you’re finding it challenging to create a schedule, block off some time to do it and have an accountability buddy help you.

4. Join a community.

A group of people at a gym, half on a treadmill and other half on the elliptical training.

Outdoor running clubs aren’t the only types of communities for runners. Joining a running community in the winter months is a great way to meet new people and stay accountable.
Here are a few ways to find a community:

  • Create your own: Call a friend or family member and start a running challenge. Or arrange to meet up with a few friends weekly to run together.
  • Join a social media group: Many Facebook and Instagram accounts are devoted to runners like yourself. Get connected with others this way.
  • Join Vingo: Meeting new running friends on Vingo is easy because you can connect with other Vingo users each time you run. Meet new running friends or explore a new route on Vingo with your best friend.

5. Find some entertainment and ditch the distractions.

Close-up of Ipad

One downside of indoor running is it’s relatively easy to get distracted, especially if you’re running at home. You may have family members or kids running about, work waiting for you on your phone, or dirty dishes in the sink. So while outdoor running is a great way to unplug, you want to be able to unplug and get focused when you run indoors as well.

One of the best ways to prioritize your runs is to ditch your phone or other devices and focus on something else while you run instead. For instance, you might read or listen to that book you’ve been meaning to try. Or you could watch your favorite TV show or movie. Or you can join an online running community like Vingo and explore the world from your living room!

6. Have water, a towel, and a fan in your workout space.

An older couple embracing after a workout at their home gym with a towel and water bottle.

Set yourself up for success by making sure you have everything you need in your workout space. For example, if the room tends to get hot and stuffy, you’ll want to have a fan near your treadmill to stay cool. Keep a clean towel and water bottle nearby, too, so you can wipe all that sweat away and stay hydrated during your workout. Creating a space that allows you to be well-prepared and comfortable during your runs makes you more likely to stick with them and see progress.

7. Remember to warm up and cool down.

Man stretching at a gym.

Another great habit of getting into if you are running is to warm up and cool down, even in the winter. Taking a couple of moments to warm your body up with a light jog or walk and cool down with stretches helps prevent injuries.

8. Add some variety to your running routine.

A man doing sit ups next to his couch at home.

Switching up your workout routine will challenge your body in different ways and keep things from getting stale. Once you’ve set up your space and settled into a routine, you can add some variety by cross-training. Although there are several ways you can do this, we’ve listed a few different types of workouts you may want to add to your indoor running routine:

  • Cycling: Hop on any indoor bike and try a hill workout, long-distance route, or a short, challenging trail ride. With Vingo, you can easily switch from running to cycling, and it’s compatible with any indoor bike or setup.
  • Strength training: Start with bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, calf raises, planks, and pushups. When you feel ready for more, add light weights and increase them as needed to maintain a consistent challenge.
  • Interval and endurance run: If you tend to do the same type of running every session, switch things up with an interval or endurance running workout. If you’ve never tried these, we’ve included some examples of each below.

Interval running workout:
1. Warm-up for 5 minutes.
2. Run 1 minute at 5 to 7 miles per hour on the treadmill.
3. Run 30 seconds at 8 to 12 miles per hour on the treadmill.
4. Repeat 5 times.

Endurance running workout:
1. Warm-up for 5 minutes.
2. Run 5 minutes at a leisurely pace.
3. Run 5 to 10 minutes at a tempo pace.
4. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

9. Prioritize positive lifestyle habits.

Father and daughter in the kitchen looking at fresh fruit and veggies.

In addition to prioritizing the actual workouts, winter is a great time to build sustainable habits. Some of these great habits include what happens after you train, like what you eat, how you cool down, and how much water you drink.

After a run, always take time to stretch and cool down. A cool-down will help prevent injury and reduce soreness and muscle tension. Also, don’t forget to hydrate! Staying hydrated will improve your training process and improve your overall health (sleep, mood, and mind function). And finally, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Developing healthy food habits, eating nutritious, whole foods, and having post-run snacks nearby can help keep you healthy and improve your athletic performance.

Key takeaways:

Indoor running doesn’t have to mean a slump in your routine and training. In fact, by making the transition slow, setting goals, and finding community and entertainment to keep you going, you can get faster and stronger. 

If you are still struggling, check out our tips for indoor running to keep you going!

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  1. Jones, A. M., & Doust, J. H. (1996). A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running. Journal of Sports Sciences, 14(4), 321–327. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640419608727717

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