Last week my training plan had me running three shorter runs and one 13 miler for a total of about 30 miles. This means I spent roughly 255 minutes in the freezing cold by choice! Some might call this stupid or downright dangerous, but you have to remember that I was born and raised in Minnesota where we buy treads not only for our tires but also our tennis shoes. We don’t let snow and ice bring us down, mostly because we have no choice.
Sure, it's cold and the first mile is usually 100% miserable, but it's also peaceful and refreshing. The path along the Charles isn't crawling with tourists, cyclists and families of six on rollerblades. It's just me and a few other 'crazy runners' who choose not to let the weather get them down. There is a sense of camaraderie amongst us Winter Warriors, even if it is admittedly harder to convey given every inch of our faces are covered by face masks. Even still, I always smile.
After years of running in Minnesota, I've learned a few things about training safely in the snow:
1) Dress warm, but not too warm to avoid sweatsicles. Even though it may be below freezing and you’ll be tempted to layer it all on, you can and will overheat under four layers of fleece, three pairs of socks, two hats and wool mittens. This will make you sweat and each bead of sweat will turn into an icicle the moment you start your cool down. Sweat + Ice= Sweatsicles.
2) If it's dark bring a friend, reflective gear and/or a head lamp. Winter darkness is dark and cars won't be on the lookout for joggers the way they are in the summer. Plus everyone looks cool in a headlamp… right?
3) Watch your step: Black ice is a pain in the butt. Literally. The minute you lose focus and assume the pavement peaking out from under the snow is dry, you will slip and fall and cars waiting at the stoplight in front of you will laugh for the entire duration of the red light. Trust me.
Although I’ve mastered the art of running in the cold, I am admittedly relieved to see the milder temps forecasted for my 14-miler this weekend. It will be my longest training run yet—wish me luck!