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A Little Love…for Winter Running

I feel like the general tone of many of my running posts lately has been rather negative. I’ve been talking about failure, struggling with training, hating on winter, etc etc etc. At this point, you might be starting to wonder where my joy for running has gone…and why I even stick with this crazy sport.

I try to keep this place as real as possible. I never sugarcoat my life or my training, because, well…what’s the point of that? And since I don’t write every day, it’s less interesting for me to put up a post about how I had another great easy run than to actually reflect on things that I’m experiencing or struggling with in terms of training. And the truth is, at the beginning of training there are often more struggles than anything else.

But I also understand that if that’s the only glimpse into my life you have, you may start to wonder where the passion has gone. While I admit that I haven’t yet reached that “turnaround” point where things start to come naturally, I still look forward to lacing up my shoes most of the time. And I honestly can’t even imagine how I’d get through the winter if I didn’t have running to keep me sane.

So with that being said, I figured it was time to show a little love for winter running. Because even though it’s cold and the days are short (but slowly getting longer!) and even though motivation can often be hard to come by, running during the winter isn’t all bad. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, there are actually a lot of advantages to running during this cold season.

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Things like…

No pressure to beat the heat. If you don’t want to drown in sweat during a run in the middle of summer, there’s usually a very short window in which you can run. Miss that window and you’re basically resigning yourself to running through hell. Which also means…

No need for early morning wake ups on long run days. Sure, I suppose sometimes this is still necessary if you have a lot going on. But in general I find winter weekend mornings so much more relaxing. I can sleep in and take my time getting out the door. Especially since the procrastination usually works to my advantage — pushing back your run by just a few hours can make all the difference in terms of temperature.

Afternoon runs are the way to go. I’ve made my general dislike for morning runs pretty clear…several times. I run in the morning out of necessity — to avoid the heat, if I can’t run any other time of day, etc. I understand why so many of you love running in the morning and it all makes perfect sense to me…in theory, anyway. But despite my best intentions, I think I’ll always be an afternoon/evening runner at heart. And the winter is one time when running in the afternoon is unequivocally better. Sure, that run may hang over your head all day, but that’s a small price to pay for running in warmer weather, especially now that the sun sets a little later. Case in point: this morning the temperature in my town was 20 degrees. It’s expected to be 40 and sunny later this afternoon. Three guesses as to which conditions I prefer.

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Running clothes have more pockets, which means more places to stash stuff. Yes, I prefer running in shorts over tights any day of the week (though when I do resign myself to wearing tights, chances are I’m in these. Most comfortable pair I own, plus I love the zipper at the ankles). And yes, running is the one aspect of my life where I prefer to wear as little clothing as possible. But sometimes that means storage is a bit of an issue. When you’re wearing a sports bra-type top and little bitty shorts, there aren’t many places to stash your gear/gels/etc. Long sleeve running shirts and coats generally have more pockets available, which makes carrying things on the run much easier.

Saucony women nmd jacket vizipropinkI also appreciate bright colors on dreary days – I wear this jacket on the majority of my runs these days

Less need for hydration. During the heat of the summer, I usually carry water on runs that are an hour or more (there are no public fountains near me). On really hot days, I will take hydration with me on short runs too. But in the winter I can go a lot longer without needing water. Plus, if I get thirsty on a run, I can always reach over and just grab a handful of snow! Okay…kidding on that one. But my point is, I can easily make it into the double digits without hydration, and often go up to 2 hours without it. Obviously this is personal preference and not necessarily something a professional would recommend, but I hate carrying water and appreciate that I can go further without it when the temperatures are lower.

Less sweat. Which means that’s it’s much more acceptable to re-wear running clothes before washing. Or, you know, easier to get away with not showering after a run.

No humidity. Humidity ruins more runs than heat alone. I hate that feeling of swimming through a run, of being weighed down by the heaviness of the air. It slows me down and often makes me question my fitness. All summer long, I yearn for that first crisp fall day when the humidity breaks and I suddenly feel like I have wings on my feet. I love that I never have that problem during the winter. Sure, sometimes my legs go numb in the cold which obviously doesn’t make for a speedy run. But in general, less humidity means faster running. And that’s something I can get on board with!

Post-run showers are the best thing in the world. Especially on long run days. Is there anything better than the heat of a shower after being outside in the cold for over an hour? I admit to often using that as motivation to get myself moving (whatever works, right?). Related: running in the cold also makes my old house feel warmer. We keep our heat fairly low in an (often futile) effort to keep the heating bill from getting out of control. The only time the house feels truly toasty is when I first come in after a run. It’s a luxurious feeling.


So winter – I will accept that you are good for my running. And that sometimes I even enjoy you. Plus, each time that I brave your cold, I am stronger for it. But…that still doesn’t mean I’m not excited for spring.


15 Responses to A Little Love…for Winter Running

  1. I used to be an evening runner. Then life got in the way with a full time job and kid, so now it’s mornings or nothing. Occasionally I can get away for a late run and it feels so refreshing and easier!
    Sarah´s last post ..Put it in a letter, Jane Austen!

  2. You make some good points. I think I’ll still stick to summer running though. I live in the Pacific Northwest so we have really mild summers that are great for running. If I could run in the afternoons I probably wouldn’t mind winter so much, but this time of year it’s between running in the cold dark in the morning or running in the cold dark at night. Both of which suck, haha. Luckily the days are getting longer
    Amanda´s last post ..Tummy Troubles

  3. YES. I love winter running for these exact reasons. Nothing beats fall running, but my long runs are much more enjoyable now that I can take my sweet time getting out the door.
    Amanda´s last post ..A Toast to a Bad Run

  4. I like running in the winter SO MUCH MORE. I actually think I may not do a fall marathon this year I hate summer running that much (and I want to work on speed before dragging myself through another cycle). Totally agree afternoon runs are the way to go. I just came back from a lunch run and it was perfect :) Totally agree about the pockets although you should check out the northface sports bra with a pocket. It has changed my life. seriously. NOW WHERE IS MY SPONSORSHIP?! kidding :P http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/womens-shirts-sweaters/women-39-s-stow-n-go-ii-a_b-high-impact-sport-bra.html?from=subCat&variationId=JK3&cm_mmc=Google-_-ProductListingAds-_-Product_Terms-_-The%20North%20Face%20Women%27s%20Stow-N-Go%20II%20AB%20High%20Impact%20Sport%20Bra%20TNF%20Black%20XL

    • First of all, you might be one of the only people I know that says that! haha BUT, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t really love marathon training in July. It’s much easier to run fast and long when it’s cold than hot/humid.

      Also – that sports bra is amazing!! I already store stuff in my sports bras which is kind of gross (since everything gets sweaty and slips around). Having a pocket really would be life-changing!

  5. I have to say my #1 favorite thing is being able to run whenever! Able to do my 20 milers whenever it strikes my fancy. Not being relegated to 5am wakeups on the weekend. If I do an early workout it is by choice, not necessity.
    Gianna´s last post ..Farewell Nut Butters & Hello Twitter

  6. less sweat – yes! i love how you can go out in public post-run and not be a mess. definitely has its perks!
    kristy´s last post ..thirty-six

  7. So much here that I agree with but best of all is wearing things twice!!! I’m a lazy laundress!!! But I think Spring is the best time to run…mornings get lighter, it’s a little warmer but not too warm and I always feel so positive in Springtime. Only a little longer to wait!
    Cathryn´s last post ..It feels like New Year’s Day again

  8. I was not a fan of winter running…until this year! I have three young kids, no treadmill or gym membership, and I live in Michigan and after years of having to start over with my running every spring, I finally decided to suck it up and just get out there in the cold. And now I love it- for all the reasons you mentioned!!! I was so bummed today when I stepped outside and realized that under the inch or so of snow that was on the ground was a sheet of ice…I made it about 200 yards then decided that if I break a bone that would be worse than being out of shape come spring. It’s supposed to be 40 degrees on Monday, so here’s hoping that ice melts!

  9. While I definitely prefer fall/spring running (and summer…) over the cold, winter running really does have some perks. I am NOT a morning person by any means, so sometimes I battle the heat in the summer because I simply cannot get myself up at 5am to be running by 6am. Not going to happen. In the winter, you benefit by waiting until the afternoon because it’s the warmest part of the day! Win win and win.

    I usually wear the same winter clothes for like two weeks before washing them. Annnnnd the same tights every time. Oops?
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..throwing myself repeatedly against a mountain, aka skiing

  10. I love the pink jacket. Its a great look for days that are not shiny.
    Nancy´s last post ..Pain Behind Knee

  11. This is all completely true!! I have to say, I especially love not having to worry about how late in the day I run in the winter. And hot showers after are indeed the best. :)
    Angela´s last post ..The Engine & The Chassis

  12. To replenish my energy and vitamin supply in “tough” seasons, like autumn and winter, I am taking military nutraceuticals. These dietary supplements were specially developed for soldiers to enhance their physical capacities and provide the necessary nutrients. These products keep me toned and energized.

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