Christmas · Running · Uncategorized · winter

Running in the Cold: It’s Not All Bad, I Swear

Unless you live in tropical climates, your exercise options these days are as follows:

  1. Skip it! There are cookies to be devoured and shopping to be done. Shopping counts as cardio, and stirring cookie dough makes for a passable upper-body workout.
  2. Do it indoors at a gym or yoga studio, accepting the crowds who want to avoid the cold and embracing the risk of getting, er, dripped on.
  3. Layer up, go outside and face…whatever conditions are out there.

Me? I go for option 3. I do enjoy shopping, and so help me, I love me some holiday baking, but I also love getting outside after spending most of the day cooped up at work. Granted, it’s a big, open office space with lots of windows, but it’s still inside. And I like yoga, but that requires planning, scheduling, and driving, and some days (okay, lots of days), I think about doing all of that and just laugh.

Thus: outside!

Except: Ugh. Outside.

I’ve made it clear in the past how I feel about the waning wintertime daylight, and there’s plenty more to dislike about cold-weather running. There’s the exasperation of finding tights that actually fit well (in my 21+ years of running, I’ve had one — ONE — pair of tights that I love, although a second pair currently looks promising). There’s the daily quandary of how many layers to wear, and how to arrange said layers. There’s the runny nose factor. There’s the mental hurdle of getting out the door when it’s sooooo nice and warm inside.

Yep. Plenty to dislike.

But! I swear it’s NOT ALL BAD.

Here are some benefits to braving the cold and going for a run (or a walk, or bike ride, whatever) in the cold:

  • You can take a tour of the Christmas lights in your neighborhood. I saw a display a couple of days ago that was so impressive I had to stop running for a minute and just gaze upon it.
  • Coming home feels even better than usual. Seeing your own light display, and knowing there’s a hot shower waiting to thaw you out: bliss!
  • Getting away from holiday crowds and traffic and moving around in the fresh air is a terrific way to clear your mind of stress — and to fortify your immune system so it can fight all those cold germs floating around.
  • Running up hills? Running faster to stay warm? Lovely metabolism boosters, so you’ll have more room in your belly for holiday treats!

Anything I’m missing? What do you like about exercising in cold weather?



7 thoughts on “Running in the Cold: It’s Not All Bad, I Swear

  1. Oh, honey, running in cold in New Mexico is quite a bit different than running in the cold in, say, Alaska, where it’s truly a wicked and mind-numbing cold that requires multiple layers and multiple mittens plus the dreaded face mask. Still, I’m glad you’re still getting out and enjoying the winter air. It’s so tempting to sit on the couch and veg out some days, eh? Cheers and happy holidays.

  2. haha – exactly what Cinthia Ritchie said! As someone living in a place currently in a ‘lake effect snow advisory’ for up to 3 feet of snow, who has run in temperatures as low as -35 since moving here from Mass. 8 years ago … yeah, cold is relative! But I go out to run – all year long. So long as there isn’t dangerous ice or active lighting – I’m outside.

    Layers are critical – and for me, as I approach 0F, I throw out the ‘dress like it is 20 degrees warmer, and just layer up to stay warm!

  3. All great reasons to get out there! I have to say, fresh air away from crowds is a main reason, for me. I love the festivity, holiday cheer, but the stress and noise can build up to ruin all that for me.
    Growing up in south Florida, weather in winter was never a problem. It is actually finally the time of year where one doesn’t have to think about t-storms, humidity, sunscreen lotion. However, coming to Germany taught me about the “dress like 20 degrees warmer” rule and don’t forget the gloves or ear covers! But running the trails in winter and seeing the muted browns, reds, and greens with white makes the weather worth it… plus, I’m excited I can cover up while running and not have my cookie-induced muffin tops making me insecure.

  4. Running in the cold is the best! And this coming from someone who ran in 18 degrees this morning! I can run faster in the cool air and not feel like I’m struggling to breathe in humidity. I’ve always loved training hard through the winter. I am completely and totally miserable running in summer weather, so I will not take these cold days for granted!!

  5. I liked this post but then I love running during the cold weather – the best thing for me this year was running in the minus numbers overnight in Finland – extremely exciting and terrifying at the same time! Great blog

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