Thursday, December 12, 2013

Three Things Thursday: Rules for winter running

Three runs this week and all three have been indoors.

And you know what I have to say about that? Eff you, Mother Nature.

After my bold proclamation that I was rocking the cold weather runs, the temperatures took a nose dive, the winds picked up and the ice settled on the roads. Today, for example, it was zero degrees with a -20 wind chill. Not only did the idea of layering up seem unappealing, the potential of danger lurked just outside the threshold of my front door. Seriously - I've rolled my ankle on phantom branches this fall, I can't imagine putting sole to physical ice.

And so I've stripped down, turned on the treadmill and gone. I went to the Y, walked up steps and did the hamster wheel of a track where 14 laps equals a mile. And then I decided trotting in place was far less daunting than running in tiny circles and trying to count at the same time.

In the 12 miles I've logged, I have felt sort of embarrassed - as if my inner pansy surfaced and laughed in my face. She's a mean bitch, that pansy.

So I decided to shut her up with some firm rules for running this winter, as they seem to change year-to-year. Actually, let's call them commandments as they sound a bit more likely to but her in her place.

1. Thou shalt not run outside if it is in the single digits. It's really great to run in zero degrees so that you can brag about how hard core you are to your Facebook friends that you ran in zero degrees. However, I don't run to brag about it (most of the time) and my FB friends couldn't give two shoots. Yes, shoots. So if it is 9 degrees, my ego is just fine to log 5 miles on the treadmill while I watch "Alaska: The Last Frontier."

How do you like that for irony?

2. Thou shalt not run outside if the wind is blowing at more than 20 mph. I hate running in the wind. It's stupid and makes runs harder. Running in the winter, especially sub-freezing temperatures, has its own sets of challenges and I'm not going to allow it to get more difficult than need be. Plus, it's no fun to wipe blowing snot from your ear canal.

3. Thou shalt not run outside if there is ice or more than 4 inches of snow on the ground. We run so we can keep running. Duh. Running on ice puts that at serious jeopardy. As far as the snow? I'm short, and 4 inches is probably mid-calf. At that point, I might as well pull out the step bench and follow a Jane Fonda VHS.

What are your rules for winter running?

Note: I understand that I am privileged to have a hand-me-down treadmill to the basement and a discount Y membership for teaching there. It's a luxury not everyone has. 


  1. I am happy you are still getting your runs in! I think I broke all of your rules on my runs this week. ;) LOL.

    My winter running rules:

    1. Follow the salt truck when running after an ice storm
    2. Wear uber reflective clothing, run with phone, and with Glympse App on
    3. Stay close to the house/car in case you need to cut a run short
    4. Wear the ski goggles with the air is too cold for your eyes (I haven't had to do that for a few years)
    5. Run in fresh snow as soon as possible!
    6. Skip the run if visibility is bad :(

    One blogger recently posted about how she doesn't mind running on the treadmill and doesn't feel she needs to earn a badass badge for running in the cold and I said good for her - if people really hate it, they totally shouldn't do it! Get your workout on indoors! :) It does seem like some people just want to brag about how bad ass they are for running outside in the cold. LOL. Just do what you like, peeps!

    1. I love that you run outside in the winter because you love it. I wish I loved it a bit more.

      And great tips! I need to check out the Glympse App.

  2. My rule (when I'm seriously in marathon training) is one mile outside for every degree and the balance on the mill, but not if the windchill is ridiculous as it is now. I've been inside all week and I'm liking the mill just fine.

  3. Oh goodness, this definitely puts my life into perspective! I'm in Southern California, so my winter running rules include:

    - 45-55 degrees, wear a tanktop and armwarmers, shorts optional
    - 35-45 degrees, wear long sleeves with capris
    - Under 35 degrees, sleep in :)

  4. I really, really like running outside. Almost no matter the weather. And I live in Minnesota, so that means cold/snow/ice running. This is my third winter here, enough time to develop these winter running rules:
    1. Use a headlamp for pre-dawn runs, even on lit streets, to better spot icy patches.
    2. Indoors if the windchill is colder than -15F or so. (I violated this over the weekend, running 10 miles at -10 with probably -25 windchill, and it was very very cold. Now that I know I can do it, I don't feel like I have anything to prove. Yes, I did brag about it on Facebook).
    3. Indoors if there's *extensive* ice. Snow and a little ice kind of goes with the territory in MN, and is manageable with YakTrax or trail shoes, but occasionally we'll get an ice storm, and that's asking for trouble. Even with screw shoes.
    4. Indoors for speed work. This is a new one since I didn't do any speed work last winter, but one of my winter projects is to find my fast. So, indoor track party on Thursday mornings at the Y. It was fun today!

    1. How do you like the YakTrax? I haven't tried them yet, and they would help get me out when the roads are a bit iffy. (I don't dare sidewalk as no one in my neighborhood even thinks to shovel.)

      And fun for speedwork! I need to find a crew to join me for that. Have fun this winter!

    2. YakTrax were surprisingly unobtrusive. They did not mess with my gait and after the first few minutes, I really didn't notice them. They are excellent on packed snow, not very effective on hard ice, and a little noisy on bare pavement. I would actually go out of my way to run on the snowy part of the road/sidewalk when using them on roads.

      I used YakTrax Pros and they're still in good shape after a season. There's now a version specifically for running, but I don't know if it's any better. You can read more about them at Steve in a Speedo:

  5. I am so glad you posted this! I'm in Colorado, so I always feel like a wuss when I run on the treadmill and my Facebook feed is full of frozen runner pictures. But seriously, I run because I enjoy it. And I don't enjoy not being able to feel my nose or fingers (even in layers of gloves). So I treadmill it up and watch trashy TV and am happy. :)

  6. I love this Kim and I LOVE running outside! But if it's too icy or too cold for me then I don't mind the treadmill. My rules are basically to just go with what I feel. I hate the cold but I have on numerous occasions went and ran outside in the cold and been fine. But, I'm totally okay staying in and running on the mill!

    1. I think you are right - it's just how it feels. I know I've run in single digits and been fine because it's sunny.