Running in a Winter Wonderland

I was supposed to go on my first group run this morning, but when I woke up at 6 this morning the roads were pretty bad and I just didn’t feel comfortable making the drive out to where we were meeting up. I went back to sleep for a few hours and decided to head out on my own around the neighborhood for a short run. Running in the snow makes me feel incredibly out of shape, but it really is a great workout!

Fresh blanket of snow!
Fresh blanket of snow!

When I purchased a pair of YakTrax from the store the other day the check out attendant told me they’d been selling a lot of them. I explained to him that a lot of people were starting to train for spring races and since there was no end of the weekly snow in sight, it was becoming a necessity. He politely said, “I’m sorry, but that’s just crazy to me.”

So are the outdoor winter runners crazy? Honestly, I don’t think so. When people tell me I’m crazy I laugh it off, but sometimes I find it offensive. When training for a race I run around 20-24 miles a week over three to four days. Saturday is my “long run” day and those runs range from 5-10 miles, 11 or 12 when it’s closer to race day. Since I’m a morning runner, I’m often on the treadmill during the week in the winter for safety reasons. After three days during the week on the treadmill, it’s so nice to get outside for a run even if it’s a slow one.

I love this post from A Fresh Start for Molly about running in the cold. I think there are some things that non-runners and casual runners forget or just don’t know. First off, it’s very difficult to properly train for a distance race on the treadmill – not to mention it’s extremely repetitive and boring! Most of us (hopefully all of us!) are wearing running apparel in layers that is meant to keep us warm & dry in cold weather. If you go out in an old long-sleeved t-shirt and a cheap fleece you’d probably be cold, but that’s not what we’re wearing. Body core temperature rises when running so it can feel up to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. So when you see a runner out in 23 degree weather and think “They must be freezing!” they probably are not and it probably feels like 43 degrees under their layers. In fact, today I felt over dressed (even though I was in my 3 basic layers) and ended up unzipping the front of my jacket and the vents on my jacket.

When it comes down to it, training can’t stop because the weather is bad and sometimes the treadmill just has to be ditched. If you still think we’re crazy, fine, but please don’t call us crazy! And believe me, we are all looking forward to spring probably more than you can imagine.

Runners  – what do you do in the winter or during less-than-perfect weather? Do you hibernate in the gym or face the elements?

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