February 3, 2015

10 Reasons To Run in Winter

If you're anything like me, you don't deal with cold a single bit. I often say I'm a Mexican, born in the wrong country. I love deserts, big radiating sunshine and green forest trails. The fact is, I pretty much hate winter.

Over recent years, however, I discovered that my love for running outweights my adverse feelings for the cold season. I'll even admit that, under the right circumstances, I almost enjoy some good snowy trails... granted I take the following in consideration :

1. It's awesome training
Snow rarely packs hard enough to completely hold your weight, which means your feet are going to sink and twist at every step, which makes for excellent stability training and a tougher body altogether.

2. There's hardly anyone
You'll pretty much have the trails to yourself. The woods are silent, still and calm, which offers great opportunities for introspection and relaxation. Aside from the crispy sound of your own steps and the occasional jumpy little squirrel, it's you and Mother Nature and there's something powerful about that.

3. You don't need to drink so much
Cold weather, for some reason, seems to repress your need to drink. I probably hydrate 1/10th compared to summer running, without any adverse effects. Consequently, I usually go out with a single handheld bottle and it largely suffices to my needs.

4. You won't be cold, really
Anyone who lives in a cold country knows that we get miserable mostly when we underdress for the conditions. A pair of jeans in -20F simply cannot keep you warm. Multiple layers of running gear, however, are actually way warmer than the usual stuff we wear. When it gets really cold, I put on two pairs of socks, two layers of tights and a pair of shorts, a compression t-shirt with arm sleeves, a Polartech long-sleeve shirt, plus a base layer jacket and a windbreaker. I have a face mask, a buff for my neck and at least one hat. If I go out and start moving immediately, the cold doesn't even come through. And don't believe anyone telling you that you should be careful not to overdress because you'll get too hot. This is abysmal bullshit.

5. It's good for your form
Winter slips and slides, there's ice and loose snow and all sorts of variations on the trail. Therefore, you simply can't have a long stride unless you want to end up on crotches. The conditions pretty much force you to shorten your stride and to take quick, close-together steps in order to keep your balance. That's awesome news, because this teaches - or reminds - you proper running form.

6. It's a whole new challenge
Snow, ice and everything in between react very differently under your feet than, say packed dirt or sand. Winter dramatically changes your workouts by adding some sinking and sliding and it will add some new challenges to your every day runs, particularly when dealing with downhills. It requires another level of awareness and offers a welcome change in pace. Embrace it!

7. You're burning way more calories
When your body fights the cold, your metabolism shifts in high gear and you burn more calories per hour than you would in mild conditions. Add some harder winter running to that mix and you get a potent, high-demand workout that will burn insane amounts of calories for about the same level of effort as your summer runs. Ain't that a nice bonus?

8. It's gentle on the body
A couple inches of snow will efficiently cover up the gnarly parts of the trail and change it to a soft, smooth single-track path that is gentle on your legs and offers reduced "bounce", making for a very cushioned, comfortable ride.

9. Taking a spill isn't an issue
Running rocky, gnarly trails and falling will hurt you pretty badly. Although we rarely shy away from a bloody shin or a bruised arm, it's nice to know that falling, rolling and overall loosing your shit in winter will very rarely even leave a mark. You'll have a good laugh, get back up, shake off the snow and get going again, unscathed.

10. You'll feel like a badass
It's actually way more than a feeling. It's an absolute fact. Being out there on the trails while some cars won't even start, coming back home with ice hanging from your eyebrows and lashes is 100% pure, total badass!

So go on, give it a try. I'm sure you'll find it's better than staying inside, depressed, dreaming about the summer trails and being grossly miserable :)


  1. If you get off the streets and onto the trails, there's nothing but you and the critters; unfortunately, in Alaska those are usually the bigger variety.

  2. Je vois que mon plaisir de courir l'hiver est devenu contagieux:)

    Ta Belle.