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10 Reasons To Love Winter Running

Posted Dec 13 2011 9:29am

“It’s too cold.”

“The gym is warm. I’ll go there and run on the treadmill.”

“It’s too dark in the morning…and at night. I don’t want to run in the dark.”

“I can’t breathe when I run in the cold. It hurts.”

“It’s snowing, I can’t run in that.”

Really? Really?

A little dark, a lot snowy...but not so bad. Really.

Winter running isn’t for some people. That’s fine. But while you’re bouncing along on the treadmill inside your cozy gym, I’ll be outside, cruising around Central Park through snow, sleet and whatever else winter throws my way.

And I’d love to convince you that you, too, can enjoy winter running. It’s not so scary. (OK, it’s a little scary at first, but let’s talk it out.)

Last winter I was going through some super fun (not really) personal stuff. I knew that running would make me feel better and would distract me from my silly drama, but I also knew there was snow on the ground…and sometimes ice…and sometimes hail beating down from the sky…

But I still ran.

I learned to layer up and power through, and somehow I got through last winter running outside nearly every day. The treadmill and me? We’re simply not a good match.

Last night I sweat for 45 minutes at the gym. I took a Chisel class, and while that was all fine and lovely, I much preferred the chilly sweat I endured this morning when I covered six miles in Central Park.

You may still be thinking, “I don’t want to run outside in the winter.” Totally cool. But in case there’s a chance you can be swayed, here are my 10 Reasons To Love Winter Running:

1. You get to dress in layers, which means you get to buy more running stuff. Yes, it is cold outside. We’ve been over that. I remember running one winter morning last year when it was six degrees. Single digits, man. That’s a little terrifying. But the frigid weather isn’t so daunting when you’re wearing a cute hat and puffy vest. What? Puffy vests are cool! They were cool at The Gap in 1997 and they’re still cool now! Leave me alone.

This morning's running outfit was both trendy and warm. Right? It's trendy, right?

I still recommend wearing base layers that are moisture-wicking, because you’ll still sweat plenty in the winter, but other than that throw on whatever you’ve got and get cozy before you head outside. ( I recently wrote about my favorite winter running must-haves if you’re interested. )

2. The sunrises are better in the winter. I don’t know why, but they are. They’re just more colorful or something. Trust me. Get out and see one. Plus, the sun rises later, so you don’t have to be outside at 5 am in order to see the sun come up.

This is from this morning over the Central Park Reservoir. Not bad, right?

3. It’s less crowded. In the summer, Central Park is packed with runners. Everyone is out, everyone is training for something. But in the winter, there are fewer people throwing elbows at you when you run clockwise in the park.

4. You’ll feel hardcore. On really blustery days, I love smiling at the few other runners who are out braving the elements. It’s like you share this secret little “We’re stupid and we know it” bond.

5. You’ll appreciate your hot shower afterward so much more. And maybe a cup of hot chocolate. Maybe find a way to shower in hot chocolate. I don’t think that’s the worst idea I’ve ever had.

6. You just may run faster. OK, if there’s ice on the ground, maybe slow down a bit. Or not. Do whatever you want. But on regular, non-icy pavement, I assure you I run faster than I do in the summer. I’m still not breaking any world records, except maybe the record for Most Bathroom Stops During A Run (kidding, Mom, I’m still healthy, don’t worry), but I definitely feel much speedier in cooler temperatures.

7. Your lungs will adjust. My mom tells me that she can’t run outside in the winter because it hurts to breathe. I’ve been there. When I first started winter running I had a hard time, too, but eventually my lungs got on board with the outdoor activity. Now I feel fine when I run, and though sometimes I’ll cough a bit afterward, I’m usually fine as long as I hydrate before, during and after my run. This is not medical advice. You should never take medical advice from me because I would have no idea what I’m talking about. But water + cold = Ali’s lungs are happy.

8. Snow is pretty. Sometimes it’s annoying, but other times it’s kind of nice. I rarely want to go for long walks in the winter to “check out the snowy park.” If I go for a run I’m much warmer and I still get to see the lovely sights.

See? That's a snowy view of Central Park. It's nice, right?

9. You’ll really appreciate it when springtime rolls around. Bang out a few speed sessions or long runs in the snow and by the time the ice is melting and the flowers are blooming, you’ll be psyched. You’ll be like, “OMG I’m so tough, I ran all winter and now I’m being rewarded with 50-degree runs. Life is fantaaaastic!” Really. That is the exact conversation you will have with yourself. Or with me…on GChat. I look forward to it.

10. You’ll be really happy you did it. I do love winter running. Have I made that clear yet? But I won’t lie and say that I bounce out of bed on every 20 degree morning dying to bust out the Adrenalines and hit the park. There are days when my bed is so warm and I want to stay in it forever. That was the case this morning. But I got up, ran, loved it and felt so good afterward.

So give winter running a try, won’t you? Maybe not once. Maybe a few times, to really test out your clothing and see how you feel. You may still hate it. That’s cool. We can still be friends.

Oh and yes, if you’re wondering, “Is it normal that my boogers freeze when I run in the cold?” the answer is “Yup. Super normal.”

TELL ME: Are you a fair-weather runner or are you game for hitting the streets no matter the weather?


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