6 Realizations made about Running in the Winter

So a few weeks ago, I committed myself to running in 5 races over the next 10  months.  Needless to say, I’ve been running.  And, since I have small children and a maxed-out income, I’ve also opted for the free version of race-day training: skipping the gym membership and choosing to get my miles in outside.  Exercising this way also helps me deal with my boredom issues.  If I feel un-challenged, un-alert, un-thinking, there’s no way in hell I’m going to make it through 6 miles.  I need the constant thought ramblings that come with suburban terrain:

“Jump over the goose poop”
“Don’t trip on that wonky mound of pavement, no need to look like a jackass right now”
“Why the hell is that car veering towards me?”
“Halfway home, just keep running and let’s wrap this sucker up”
“Ice patch – move over, dry pavement.  Ice patch – move over, dry pavement.  Ice patch…”

Our weather this year has been incredible for exercising outside.  I mean, it’s still Minnesota, so when the temp gets into the 30’s we all rejoice and break out the shorts.  But as of today, we still don’t have any long-term snowpack to speak of.  It’s certainly snowed a few times, but the temp always seems to creep back up there and melt it off within a few days.  Anyway, suffice it to say it’s cold, but not impassable.

After a couple of months of cold-weather sweating, here’s some things I’ve learned:

1.  If you screw up your layering, you are going to feel like shit after your run.  Really.  One day I made a poor jacket decision, the sweat never got wicked away from my other layers, and it took me half a day to warm up from that one.  My holy trifecta: long sleeve wicking shirt, long sleeve cotton shirt, long sleeve lightweight jacket/fleece.  I haven’t found an ideal jacket yet, I can get away with fleece when it’s not snowing or raining, but it still doesn’t get the sweat off me the way I need it to.  Still looking for a solution to this one…

2.  God help you if you forget to bring more than one Kleenex. 

3.  The public works department has bigger things to deal with than getting those sidewalks plowed right away for your run.  Do yourself a favor, pick a route made up of sidestreets with little or no traffic so you aren’t dodging sale-crazed drivers on a busy road.

4.  Eventually, your face and thighs will chill to a level that you can’t feel them.  Go with this.  There’s a really nice moment for me around mile 4 where I just give up on worrying about my legs and kind of separate my body into a head and then everything else under my head.  Having numb legs makes this happen a little faster, the legs keep moving, I get home sooner, and a hot shower ensues.

5.  When you start getting obsessed about every part of your body that doesn’t feel right and you want to just give up and walk, look up.  One day, I looked up and saw there was a huge flock of crows doing crazy group maneuvers.  Another day, I looked up and away from the long path ahead of me – it was starting to psych me out – and saw the way the dark jagged tree lines looked against the blue sky as I ran past them.  I don’t know what it is, maybe I just have ADHD, but taking my brain and focusing it on things that are up can put me in that good place we talked about in #4.  Just make sure you aren’t going to fall into a hole.

 6.  Don’t be a wimp.  Give it two miles, and if you aren’t warmed up by then, pack it in and move south.

I know it sounds like I don’t like being outside in the cold, but I actually really enjoy it.  And I know my family has been enjoying a wife and mother who isn’t ready to choke hold someone because she’s been cooped up for too long.


2 responses to this post.

  1. So true! Loved this. I always figure, “I can’t really freeze in a literal sense, I’m running right?” And it makes me run home faster. 🙂


    • Exactly, Carrie! I always tell myself – if you want to get home to get warm, you better ease up on those walk breaks. Cold can be an excellent motivator 🙂


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