Monday, February 17, 2014

Winter ROCKS My Run

Winter can be tough.  I'm not necessarily a fan of constant snow (and crappy road conditions), but I am pretty dedicated to winter running. The cold season drags on longer than anyone wants... and this year is proving no exception to that. But as we all know, running is more mental than physical sometimes. I try to stay positive in order to keep my run intact. So instead of complaining about the current "wintery mix", here is my top 10 reasons to run in the snow...

1. It's pretty.
Seriously, you can't deny the raw beauty of a landscape covered in white. The snow adds a silence to the air, giving extra serenity and peace to any run. Make winter runs an enjoyable activity by taking in new sights and sensations.

2. Improve your stride.
Slow down during snow runs. In fact, leave your Garmin at home and reconnect with your run mojo. Focus on your stride, rather than speed.  The snow practically forces you to shorten your stride, thus maintaining a good center of mass. Stay on the balls of your feet, rather than driving in with your heels.

3. Hide the winter bulge.
Let's face it, you gained a few pounds over the holidays. With cold temps in the air, bundle up to cover those extra rolls... and run it off. You can always add layers in winter; but come summer, there's only so many clothes you can shed before you bare your birthday suit.

4. Hydration on the go.
Winter is an easy time to slack on proper hydration, but it's still important.  Forget your water bottle on a long run? Easy solution... Look for fresh snow and throw a handful in your mouth! Steer clear of yellow snow...

5. New shoes please.
Every runner I know loves to buy new shoes. Winter may be the perfect excuse. Trail shoes have more traction on the bottom than typical running shoes. This may be a good time to invest in a pair to make snow running easier. If you're running in deeper snow, just add YakTrax to your current pair of shoes.

6. Less chaffing.
As long as you don't overdress (a common winter mistake), chaffing is much less of an issue in during the cold months of the year. During summer, I have to lube up before every run to prevent the nasty painful act of chaffing... underarms, inner thighs, under the boobs. Winter is a time to give the BodyGlide a break!

7. Strengthen muscles.
Running in snow will cause you to work muscles in different ways. Snow offers more resistance, making your legs work harder, resulting in a better workout in less time. In addition to creating a forward motion, a runner's body is also working to maintain stability (and preferably, the upright position). To do so, our leg muscles get a more intense kind of strength workout. Your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles are all responsible for propeling your run forward, but the gluteus medius (the muscle on the side of your hip) activates to control your side-to-side balance. As you pile up winter miles, you will feel those hip muscles more than ever before.

8. Cool new accessories!
Who doesn't like shopping for running gear? Winter is a new season - which means there is a whole new basket of gear to shop... traction aids, hand/toe warmers, stocking hats, gloves, warm socks, face masks, jackets, insulated leggings and more! I love knee-high socks, but summer is often too warm to sport the  running accesory. During winter, knee-high socks are multi-purpose - fashionable and functional for warmth!

9. Less impact.
Cold temps don't necessarily mean harder surfaces. With a layer of snow on the ground, the impact is actually minimized. The white stuff offers a softer, more forgiving running surface that your joints will appreciate.

10. Mental strength.
Most often, getting out the door is the hardest part of winter running. But once you get outside, snow running brings about a certain kid-like attitude, a playfulness. Pushing through poor conditions will test your mental strength... How bad do you want it? And when your miles are finished, you have bragging rights the rest of the day as one badass runner.

Running outdoors in winter can be an invigorating experience. As always, your safety comes first. (See my Safety Tips for Winter Running here.)  Respect your comfort zone and trust your gut feelings... but I also encourage you to try new run experiences. I spent my first winter as a runner on the treadmill and doing circles around an indoor track. With each calendar flip, I'm called to the great outdoors more and more. It is where I feel free and happy. And that is ultimately what's important... The happier you are with your run, the more likely you are to stay consistent with your miles.

How often do you run in snow?
Do you enjoy winter... or struggle to make it through?


  1. Great attitude Jess! I despise winter. Despise it. But running makes it doable. If I stayed on the treadmill, I'd probably slit my wrists!

  2. I prefer to not run in snow. I can, however, if it's fresh snow and only about an inch on the ground. In that case I do find it peaceful. But if its already packed snow with ice or something, I prefer the treadmill...also, the cold has been making it hard. I had a bad cold last week, and may have gotten outside for my 11 mile run this past Saturday but with a cold trying to leave my system I played it safe and ran on the treadmill..It was negative windchills. blah! I can handle the cold... If its like in the 20s or teens even, depending on the other conditions.. icy, windy, etc. I hate winter.. so much..

  3. I hate running in the snow. Oh and #4 made me laugh so hard!!!

    I admire your positive attitude with everything. :-)

  4. There is nothing about winter that I like!! I do all my runs on the treadmill when it's cold!

  5. I did my first real outdoor run of the winter this weekend and I have to say "7. Strengthen muscles." all the way. I felt the muscles in my legs in ways I haven't since I started running. I immediately went out and got myself some slip on cleats for my shoes, and I can't wait to do it again!

  6. Great post! But, I hate the deep snow and the ice that usually follows it. You are right, it is pretty when it first starts falling...bring on spring!!

  7. I had a chafing problem yesterday from running 7 miles on the treadmill at the gym. In the heat of the summer, I didn't have any chafing until I was running ~15 miles.

  8. I love winter and snow but I'll be the first to admit this winter makes me thankful I'm not training for a spring marathon. That said I'm outside as often as possible and it's usually pretty glorious.

  9. My mojo has been messed up! I joined your winter challenge but have been a total slacker! ran 3 times in January and the snow was not my mind was!

  10. if we had some actual snow i might enjoy winter more- this year its just been cold temps and no snow :(
    Its funny because I LOVE racing when its cold, but as far as runs for leisure, not so much. I've been using this time for more strength training and exploring indoor exercises vs. not doing anything.

  11. I have totally embraced running outside this winter...for all the reasons you mentioned. I live near the ocean and the landscape has been beautiful. I stopped worrying about time and pace and just enjoyed the experience and beauty of each run.

  12. I love the snow, and running in the snow, don't mind the fact that it slows me down and is hard work. What I am despising this winter are the subarctic temperatures creating ice dams that never melt, making so many of my favorite routes just downright dangerous.


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