Friday, March 8, 2019

How to run happily in winter*

*Are you serious? A better title from me would be: how to run sullenly in winter while postholing through deep snow while the dog disappears somewhere, or how to skitter along on microspikes on sheer ice where a fall would be catastrophic. Or even, how to run on a treadmill without. anything to look at except people going in and out of the bank across the street from the gym.

So no tips here. The reality is that where I live, winter running is rarely enjoyable. I tend to ski a lot more and run less. But since I can't seem to give running up entirely, I've learned to endure.

What makes it worth it are the times when everything aligns. If I hear that the snowmobile club has groomed the canal road, I race out there. It's a grueling climb to the good part, but definitely worth it.

Perfect groomed corduroy.
In winter I also allow myself to slow down. I don't worry about pace, just total time. I even let myself take pictures (the old me would be horrified by this).

The lake is trying to freeze!  I can't complain about this running backdrop.
This year for some unexplained reason the state park decided to plow some little paths, which makes for interesting short loops. I also love running through the deserted campground.

Cute little paths!

They plow the camping parking spots, but I don't think anyone would happily camp here.

The other little park I run in has largely been off limits except for skis, and so have the trails. The snowshoe army just has not been able to keep up.  Sometimes this winter I have headed out optimistically only to flounder in deep snow. Honestly it isn't worth the slow pace--I could walk just a as fast--so I beat it out to the road. The roads are icy and treacherous, but at least they are plowed. On one sad occasion, I went to a road I thought I could run only to find it icy beyond belief. I then went to the state park. A big nope. Onward to the campground. I felt slightly ridiculous, hunting all over the county for a place to run.
The views are nice,  though.
I know a couple of people whose only activity is running, and I feel sorry for them this time of year. I can say that as a person who used to be that way. Branching out to skiing and snowshoeing has allowed me a lot more fun in winter.  But I'll never give up running completely. There's always those perfect moments on trail, crunchy snow underfoot, mountains overhead.


  1. Today in nome I went riding with a guy who no longer runs because two years ago, while in focused training for a lower 48 ultra, went out when it was -20 and blowing 40mph and ended up with a frostbitten trachea. Now he shares some of my breathing woes, which really makes me wonder. Either way, if you really want to pick a terrible location to be a competitive runner ... Nome.

    1. Ha ha! Ok, Nome doesn't sound like the place to run at all.

  2. I don't relate to running at all but love your final sentence.

    1. I love hiking but running just is in its own category. I wouldn't want to do it as my only exercise anymore, though.


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