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Start Running… in the Winter?

Posted by Filed Under: Inspiration & Motivation

After a longer than two year break from running (it’s a loooong story), I’m back – I started running again on January 1st. That’s right – I started running smack-dab in the middle of a very cold, very snowy Canadian winter.

And so it goes that, as I found myself out there trudging along in the snow, I began to question the sanity of choosing to start running in – of all months – January. You may be surprised that there is an upside to the choice. No, really, there is! I can think of five positives:

    1. Big Clothes: Hey, I’m about 40 pounds heavier than I was at the peak of training for my last marathon and, while I was a near-skeleton back then, I am nowhere near to resembling “slim in the waist” now. Winter running means winter clothing, and said winter clothing covers me in all the right places (basically, everywhere). I like that.
winter runner

Winter Runner – via A. Guandalini’s Flickr Page

  1. It’s Dark (for much of the day): Same basic reason as in #1 – people can’t see me. I like that.
  2. Almost No One Else Is Running Outside: Yet another variation of #1 and #2 (you may be noticing a trend). That said, it’s not just that I don’t like the idea of showing how round I’ve become, it’s also about not showing the world how slow I’ve gotten (Mother of Mercy, have I ever gotten slow!) and the fact that there aren’t many people running outside to bear witness to all of that. Me and my  out of shape, slow self have some solitude (you won’t find that in any gym). I like that.
  3. Snow Is Soft: If you’re a new or returning runner – especially if you’re carrying some extra weight – you’re probably not very light on your feet. Take it from me, a cushion of snow on the ground is a good thing – that cushion is going to feel a lot less punishing than running on the bare concrete or pavement you’d be running on if you started running in the summer.
  4. It’s Quiet… and Beautiful: The tranquility one can experience from running on a fresh blanket of snow is hard to explain. Winter running definitely has its charm. You just have to try it to know what I mean.

So, there ya have it – the upside to starting to run in the winter. Can you think of others? Leave me a comment and, please, get out there and enjoy the season with me!

About Mark Iocchelli

Also known as the "Running Blogfather", I'm a 40-something marathoner who has beaten stress fractures and terrible shin splints. Now I'm running double the mileage with no pain - and I'm getting faster. I love to talk about running form and Arthur Lydiard. I also enjoy taking photographs, have a beautiful (and very patient!) wife, and am the proud father of two crazy kids. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the site.



31 Comments
  1. Dawn - Pink Chick on January 10th at 6:53 pm

    I enjoy running and put up with running in this weather. It’s not the snow, it’s the dang cold. If it would just warm up a few degrees.

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  3. Jon (was) in Michigan on January 10th at 7:28 pm

    Running in the winter looks majorly hardcore. :)

    But seriously, running in the winter, even low mileage, keeps you in shape for those spring races, when everyone else is feeling sluggish from a long winter slumber.

  4. Juls on January 10th at 8:00 pm

    Running in the snow? Go you!!!! I’m here in not-so-sunny California complaining about the difficulty of getting my numb toes into the toe pockets of my Vibram fivefingers. *sigh* It’s all relative and I’m rounder too. Glad to see you here and that you’re getting out there running again! Happy New Year!

  5. Warren on January 11th at 3:34 am

    Yeah, I’m starting again after a long hiatus. The best days in winter running are definitely wonderful, it’s the worst days that ultimately turned me off of it. Right now, I kind of like restricting myself to low mileage weeks during the winter.

  6. Blaine Moore on January 11th at 5:07 am

    Welcome back! You’ve been missed.

    Running in the Winter is my second favorite time of year after Autumn…Autumn is fun because it’s cross country season and the weather is great and the trees are beautiful to run under (at least ’til they lose their leaves and hide all the surprises on the trail) but in the Winter you can get the best training in.

    The snow covers the trails, you don’t pound yourself nearly as hard, there’s less traffic to contend with on the trails, and slowing down is not only necessary but welcome. Good time to get in some great base training for Spring.

  7. Ian on January 11th at 10:34 am

    Hi Mark, good to see you posting again. :)

    Another benefit to starting running in the winter is that you feel like a hardcore runner in the snow and that’s what people who see you assume about you. It’s a nice little ego boost.

  8. ElenaSc on January 11th at 11:35 am

    Hi! I just started running – only few months – and I just posted about this new adventure (http://wp.me/pXsUB-Bk).
    If you have any advice for me…. it would be great!
    Thanks!

  9. Shaun on January 12th at 7:04 am

    I like winter training because there are less distractions than in the spring and summer. We always have a lot going on in the spring/summer/fall, but things slow down this time of year. I used to be a bit of a cold weather wuss, but 530am training runs in crazy cold weather have boosted my ability to deal with it. I also agree with Ian’s post, the ego boost is nice as well!

  10. Nicolas Denis on January 14th at 1:39 am

    It’s great to do exercices in the winter. It’s make you feel better especially when you are doing it when its very cold. A nice way to wake up yourself.

  11. Ankur Bedi on January 14th at 4:56 am

    I have been running since 1.5 yrs now . Running in winters is totally amazing . You can go on and on without much dehydration . Plus my shoes don’t get too hot due to the friction in winters :)

  12. Laura on January 21st at 7:53 pm

    I’ve discovered this year that I actually love running in the winter, especially sunny days. I ran in 8 degree weather comfortably, but it wasn’t windy. If it’s over 25 degrees, I get pretty warm after a mile or so. The only thing I don’t enjoy is the days where the winds gust over 20 mph. That can get painful.

  13. Art Davis on January 22nd at 6:38 pm

    When the snow is on the ground and the temperature is zero I run on the treadmill.
    I have lost close to 60lbs running and I am currently training for the Southern Indiana Classic Marathon in April.
    I have started a blog to document my progress and keep me motivated.
    I would appreciate any questions, comments, suggestions, critiques.

    http://fitatfifty-art.blogspot.com/

    Thanks,
    Art

  14. chlorine dioxide water treatment on January 23rd at 6:32 am

    though its cold, i basically agree with what u said.

  15. Dominique de Rooij on January 28th at 7:10 am

    I enjoyed reading this post. Your determination is something else. The most avid of runners find it extremely difficult to get going on a snowy day, and you start from a hiatus. You should be so proud of yourself.

  16. TheLibraryGoddess on February 4th at 6:43 am

    I live in Edmonton AB Canada, we hit -30 Celsius AND we get to tack on a few more minus degrees for wind-chill.

    For a lot of us winter running is the BEST! For starters as Mark said, it is truly beautiful with the snow muffling the background noise that is so prevalent in our society, especially early in the morning. The trees are sometimes covered in a delicate coating of ice that shimmers in the moonlight and the stars shine brighter for some reason in the winter. It’s an amazing experience that I never would have had if it hadn’t been for winter running.

    Plus I’m faster in the winter by a good 10 seconds/km because there’s no heat dragging me down!

  17. josh on February 5th at 10:42 pm

    Can’t wait for spring! But… thanks to my Spiky Ice Cleats I was able to put in about 30 miles this past week even with the horrendous ice and slush out there. If you haven’t see these things you should check them out. I think they are probably best of whats on the market for running on ice. anyone use something similar? http://www.spiky.com

  18. Catch the Leprechaun on February 7th at 8:23 am

    Great post. As long as you dress appropriately, running in winter is fine. Just watch out for ice…

  19. Løb og motion on February 9th at 9:22 am

    Winter is a lovely time for running, and i might even like it better then running in the summer. The reason herefor is the temperature, in winter you can dress after the temperature, but in the summer i can be so hot that you fell like even running naked would be to hot. But as Catch the Leprechaun said, watch out for ice, it can ruin months of running :(

  20. Sylvia on February 9th at 12:16 pm

    I love running during fall/winter VS summer. I love the scenery…it’s like a battery charger. Happy runs to everyone (regardless of the season you run :)

  21. Jacquie - Running Gal on February 16th at 4:05 pm

    Yes, I love running in the snow (not ice or rain) too and totally relate to the piece and tranquility. When you are from the north, it’s either running in winter weather or treadmill – you pick?? Unfortunately, having a bout of plantar fasciitis has prevented any running, but working on recovering.

  22. Kathy Wade on February 18th at 6:32 pm

    I’m with you on the clothes, running in the dark, and the peace and quiet of running in the winter. This is a hard time to tackle starting running so give yourself a pat on the back! The nice thing is that when the weather gets warmer, it’s going to be that much easier for you.

    One other thing I love about running in the winter, and it kind of goes with the clothing thing, is that you don’t have to worry about what you wear, or if things match because it’s really all about warmth & comfort!

    Happy running!

  23. Kathy Wade on February 18th at 6:32 pm

    I’m with you on the clothes, running in the dark, and the peace and quiet of running in the winter. This is a hard time to tackle starting running so give yourself a pat on the back! The nice thing is that when the weather gets warmer, it’s going to be that much easier for you.

    One other thing I love about running in the winter, and it kind of goes with the clothing thing, is that you don’t have to worry about what you wear, or if things match because it’s really all about warmth & comfort!

    Happy running!
    itsjustrunning.wordpress.com

  24. Danita on February 21st at 5:52 pm

    I don’t sweat like a linebacker in the winter and I’m leaps and bounds ahead of the game once that first warm spring day hits and all my friends are panicked about having to put on a pair of shorts!!

  25. Phil Fit on February 27th at 4:51 am

    running on snow is great since you know for a fact that you must keep the body in motion in order to be warm. Great post.

  26. cialis on February 28th at 6:32 am

    Although immediately weather and the holidays can in effect play ruin on your competition regimen, it is one of the defeat seasons to be a courier. The weather is impudent, the path isn\’t crowded and the management outfits are delightful! It\’s easier than you entertain the idea. All you need are a few key strategies and a Central Intelligence Agency running aim, and you\’ll be running in any big-hearted of weather.

  27. youknowyouare on February 28th at 3:59 pm

    Running in the cold is definitly not for me, but I love running in the Spring and Fall. Your points are very valid though, so maybe I will have to give it another try :) Happy Running!!

  28. Lara Madden on March 1st at 5:45 pm

    I have just begun running in winter. I used to hate, really hate running in the rain, now I run in the snow. I live in Eagle River, Alaska. Just a bit farther north and I restarted my running plan, that used to begin in May, on January 1st this year. I have already competed in two 5k’s and did a cross-country ski event since then. I am glad to be able to run, so I will run when I can, even when the wind-chill is a bit low…I figure I am a winner when I finish, even if I am not in first place. Keep it up!!

  29. Eric on March 5th at 7:06 am

    I ran a lot more this winter than ever before! Reason #5 is dead on! Especially after it snows!

  30. Trevor on March 6th at 7:49 pm

    I have always hated running in the winter but there is definitely an upside to it. I agree mostly with number 5, it is so beautiful. I also love coming back after a run and taking a hot bath and having a cup of hot chocolate. I disagree with number 4, because i like traction- and snow doesn’t help me with that!

  31. Dom on March 8th at 7:57 am

    What do you guys wear for winter running shoes? That is always one of my main problems. My feet are cold and I have bad traction.

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