Growing to Love Winter Running

by Mark Johnson

I used to hate running in winter.

The prospect of leaving my home, where piles of blankets and a cushy recliner warmly beckoned, for streets where snow blew and cracked ice coated the pavement made it hard to find motivation to get my daily miles in.

Getting those miles in before one of my favorite local trails gets covered in snow.

I donned my black and blue Brooks, sweatshirt, and countless more warm layers. I struggled through the snow, counting pounds lost and miles run, hoping to condition my body for my more serious spring training months ahead when the snow melted.

I knew I had to defeat my dread toward these winter treks if I was to conquer my goals of running spring races. That meant buying the warmest—yet lightest—jackets and pants I could find, spikes to keep from slipping, and marathon entries to keep motivated.

Now, three years into serious running, I still cringe when I see the snow falling and temperatures plummeting. I wish it were summer. But part of me enjoys the challenge.

The cold still stings, but in a good way. It wakes me up, like a splash of cold water to my face in the morning.

It was a little cold, but not too bad for a run. Winter is definitely here. 

And not much tastes better than a deep breath of cold winter air. It’s clean—the same as the frigid, pine-scented fresh air you would breathe while hiking a mountain range that seems to get ever more pure as you trek higher and higher.

A frigid run on a clear January morning offers more of a challenge than a sweaty early summer workout—I have to trudge through inches of snow and over hidden sheets of ice.

It’s not exactly fun.

But there’s no better feeling than finishing a bitter-cold workout, knowing I didn’t let burning winds and sheets of ice slow me down. That euphoria stays with me, and the rest of the day, I feel so refreshed.

I’m not going to let the unrelenting snow and stinging cold slow me down.

In fact, I can’t wait to conquer it again.