Don’t Just Survive Winter Running…Prosper

In the winter, there are an abundance of articles of how to survive winter running.


In the summer, there are an abundance of articles about how to survive summer running.

Both of those arguments imply we are only surviving the winter and summer months.  We aren’t supposed to enjoy running during that time…just survive.

This means half of the year (Fall and Spring) we aren’t “just” surviving running.  In reality, half of the Spring and Fall weather is either rainy, cold, too hot, or something else to complain about. So for arguments sake we will say about 3 months of the year are good running months.

Except if you are injured during those three months (like me!), then you’ve lost all your months of running for the year.

That logic leads me back to the beginning.  How do you survive and even enjoy running in the winter months?

It’s something I’m battling right now.  I’m not a cold weather person and I’m training for a late Winter marathon.  How that makes sense, I don’t know.  I’e enjoyed most of my runs and enjoy the feeling of getting out there (even if out there is to the treadmill).

Here are a couple tips to enjoy running during colder months:
A: If it’s too cold, run inside. This could mean purchasing a gym membership or treadmill. There is absolutely no shame in running indoors when it’s too cold, dangerous or miserable.

B: If you are running outside layer up. There are countless peices of (expensive and inexpensive) running apparel to keep you warm. As I said last week, there are plenty of inexpensive methods to finding nice running clothes too.

Now there are windbreakers, long sleeves, insulated tops, built in wind breaker leggings and just about anything you can imagine. Google can provide you with ideal layering techniques. Since I’m always ten jackets ahead of people, you would think I wrote the post for the arctic circle (when in reality I live in NJ).

Just remember, running is life long. One run is not going to make or break you. If you are truly sick of winter running, don’t force yourself to run through the winter. Find alternatives that aren’t going to miserable.

Finally, as a public service announcement: don’t try and run fast on ice (run indoors if it’s icy). No run is worth falling and hurting yourself on ice.  I would know since I slipped and fell in a parking lot in college.   I ended up breaking my arm.

How do you enjoy winter running?

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  1. It doesn’t matter where you run, I agree 100%. Most of my runs have been on the treadmill this winter it is too dark when I get home from work and I despise the cold.

  2. I’m in a speedwork program through MUSC and we just started Cooper River bridge run training. It was cold and wet on Tuesday night, and since it just started (and the bridge run is the premier race of Charleston) we had a lot of people… a couple of people definitely groaned when the coach said we were running outside, but he’s like you never know, it could be like this on race day. I think everyone had fun with it, sometimes you have to adjust your workout or expectations due to the weather but I always feel tougher when I run in less than ideal conditions!

    You are so right about ice and slippage. No run is worth getting hurt over. Nothing wrong with taking your workout inside for safety purposes, either.

    1. Hello, fellow Charlestonian! Have you done the Bridge Run before? I did it last year and it was a blast. If you haven’t done it yet you’re in for a treat.

      Not sure we can complain too much about our weather, though. 😉 Could be much worse.

      1. I run the bridge frequently (trying to run it once a week from now until the race), but this is my first year participating in the actual Bridge Run race.

        I am not one for huge races, but everyone said I had to do it at least once. When I “qualified” for the competitive corral (it doesn’t take much to qualify if I can…), I figured this was the year to run it.

        Weather in Charleston has been great lately, occasionally we have a wet day but I can be flexible with what times I run and that helps so that I’m not running during pouring rain.

  3. Take something you love with you. Music, podcasts, ebooks. It totally helps when you don’t want to get out there. I also don’t stand by the heater before a cold run, because I know that will give me all sorts of ideas not to go. Lol. And you definitely prospered this last week.!! 🙂

  4. As you know I am running the Lake Effect 1/2 Marathon and the Syracuse 1/2 Marathon. The races are exactly 1 month apart…right in the middle of Central New York winter. Crazy? Yeah…I think so. I’m not a cold weather runner. Going outside and running in -10 weather doesn’t get me off…it gives me asthma attacks and leaves me tasting blood & metal for a week. My lungs just can’t handle the cold. Anything under 15-20 degrees and you won’t find me out. I’ve been doing about 90-95% of my runs indoors on the treadmill at home. Some days I feel a bit guilty…like the runs don’t count. But I’ve recently had to remind myself that that kind of thinking is stupid and just not true. I did 7 miles on the treadmill Saturday. Some people can’t even do 2 miles without wanting to hulk smash their treadmill. These runs indoors count! And guess what….I am seeing great improvements! My pace is picking back up and my stamina and strength have increased too. These indoor treadmill runs are really helping me to not only maintain my running fitness during the winter but they are actually BUILDING ONTO it!! It might be -20 come race day, but whether I run in that kind of whether that day or today, it’s gonna suck ass either way. Better to stay safe during training.

  5. As long as it’s not freezing I like the cold a lot.
    Sub zero temperatures can get hard on the longs, hands or not-covered-face area, but as long there’s no wind chill I still go outside.
    The dark … that’s another story, that I hate, but it is what it is during winter…

  6. Winter running is my least favorite. It makes me really unmotivated to run haha. I live for the random 40 degree sunshine days in the winter. Makes running so much easier!

  7. I really like the attention to word choice. I think that how we think about something and label it has a HUGE effect on our performance… and just general happiness. If we go through life looking at everything like it’s a chore that we have to “survive,” then of course we’re not going to be as happy. But if we do our best to look at the positives and make the most of circumstances we can’t change, then heyyyyy that’s half the battle 🙂

  8. yep. good tips. i ran on a snowy / icy trail two weeks ago and my ankle still hurts. i didn’t fall but jacked up my stride. no bueno.

  9. I heard a good tip once for winter running: start on a treadmill for a couple miles to warm up and then finish up outside. It helps when you have a lot of miles to knock out and feel overwhelmed by doing them all on the treadmill.

    1. That’s pretty interesting. A lot of the time I run on the treadmill it’s because the weather is awful outside. I like that idea though and splitting the miles up did make it go by faster!

  10. I like the last point about “If you don’t like running in the winter, don’t.” Everytime my coworkers see me out running or after a run they say how they “want to start running….but don’t” I always tell them that they don’t have to run for exercise, they should find something that they like and look forward to doing whether it’s Zumba, cycling or Jillian Michaels (sorry not sorry about that, I’ve attempted Ripped in 30)

  11. I love winter running and actually prefer it to the baking hot mess of summer. Anything below 10 and I hit the treadmill or I’ll skip it and do a swim, bike or strength day. The possibilities are endless, right? 🙂

  12. I try to enjoy winter running but the combination of cold and dark mornings (and my warm bed) make it hard. A baby that’s not sleeping all night makes it even worse! I’m hanging in there but definitely looking forward to spring. Although it hasn’t even been that cold here!

  13. I totally agree, although not a runner anymore, some of my favorite runs were on untouched snowy roads with big chunky snow flakes falling down. There really was nothing more peaceful than that.

  14. I’ve never understand why you have to ‘survive’ the winter either. I like it! I don’t mind running in the cold, but I also love my treadmill. I refuse to run outside if its so snowy that I can’t see where I’m stepping or if its icy out. I have no interest in hurting myself!

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