Handful of Health

6 Reasons to Run in the Snow

I downloaded a nifty panorama app for my phone. Click to see the whole thing!

Hello, world! Have I ever told you that deadlines steal your soul? And your blogging schedule? And sometimes your wallet, those dirty bastards? Anyway, moving on…

The Big Sur Marathon is 16 weeks away, which means I am long overdue to start training! However, I’m really stoked about it, and feeling empowered, so I went out for a run today in near-blizzard conditions.*

*In Reno, “near-blizzard conditions” means a couple snow flurries and a lot of confused drivers.

Seriously, check out this snow accumulation. And also, remind me to cut armholes in a trash bag the next time I want to wear fleece out on a snow run.

Fleece shirt collecting snow

I actually started my running career as a sophomore in college during the one semester I spent in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Reno snowfall can’t hold a candle to the real blizzards you get in the Midwest, and I ran in the snow wearing cheap sweats from Meijer, where I always checked out with a real cashier because the self checkout lane seemed so lonely. Ah, college.

Anyway, there are actually a lot of reasons to enjoy running in the snow, as long as you have the shoes and agility to prevent faceplanting into a block of ice.

  1. It’s cold. When it’s hot out, you tire more quickly and run more slowly overall. Just remember to stay hydrated (you’re still sweating!), and that you can’t rely on public water fountains if they turn the water off during the winter.
  2. However, you’re not cold. I’m the typical low-metabolism girl who has to wear a parka to the office when everyone else seems fine. You’d think running in snow would be cold, but that’s the beauty of the human body. Within a few minutes you’ve become your own mobile space heater. Just remember to wear warm, wicking layers. You’re no polar bear; your ability to create your own heat has limits.
  3. Hot chocolate. Remember that study that promoted chocolate milk as a post recovery drink? Pop it in the microwave and you’ve got hot chocolate! Score!
  4. It’s pretty. There’s something magical about running in fresh snowfall. It’s beautiful and different and everything is muted and quiet by the fluffy powder.
  5. Hardcore athlete creds. Every time a car goes by, you know that your neighbors think you are totally hardcore. Or maybe they just think you’re crazy. Just pump up the volume on Eye of the Tiger and think of Rocky.Rocky Balboa
  6. You’ve honored your training plan. If, like me, your choice was “run in the snow” or “don’t run at all,” you can be totally proud of yourself for having made the healthier decision. That said, the snow here is almost always mild. Let common sense win, and don’t expose yourself to dangerous weather conditions. I might eschew ye olde dreadmill, but but it’s always a better option than not running. Actually, so is the elliptical, the stationary bike, the rowing machine, the step machine, or even Dance Dance Revolution.

What are your favorite conditions for outdoor exercise?
What kind of whether do you refuse to exercise in?

10 Comments

  1. lindsay says:

    except, while you were having your *near blizzard conditions, a few miles away downtown, we had an honest to god whiteout that blocked my view of the parking lot below me for 30 minutes.

    1. elaine! says:

      That’s wild!! We really miss a lot of the crazier weather in South Reno.

  2. Natasha says:

    There is no running in the snow in NYC right now. 29 inches where we are — and not very well shovelled, plowed, etc. Lots of ice patches. Dangerousness. My sister-in-law, the psycho marathon runner who is training for a 200-pushup contest, ran in the park — but only after they shovelled and salted the path.

    Light snow that’s crunchy is fun to walk on. But this stuff is not! Can’t wait to return to the West Coast and rain!

    1. elaine! says:

      If your car is buried, I would consider that a good excuse to stay indoors. ;)

  3. Lis says:

    Great post! Gives me motivation to get out in the snow, though we have much more than a dusting here in Tahoe. I did see a gal out the other morning, running along the West Shore in some slop. Kudos! One tip for all you running snowmen and women out there is to get some Kahtoola microspikes for your running shoes, or full-on Kahtoola running snowshoes.
    Here’s a link to some Kahtoola products: http://www.tahoemountainsports.com/prod_detail_list/kahtoola

    1. elaine! says:

      Ooh, those are cool! My grandma has something like that just for extra safety. If I was in Tahoe, I’d probably go out snowshoeing rather than running. Similar muscle groups, and burns mad calories. So fun, too!

    2. elaine! says:

      Whoa, I just noticed that Kahtoola has running snowshoes! That’s sick. Have you heard reviews about them?

      1. Lis says:

        The Kahtoola running snowshoes are brand new this winter, so there’s not a lot of reviews out there on them yet. I have not tried, but plan to (and you should too) at National Winter Trails Day up at Mt. Rose. Tahoe Mountain Sports will be there with our Kahtoola fleet for demo! You can take them for a spin and write a review on your blog (we’d love for you to do a guest post/review on our site too if you’re interested).

        National Winter Trails Day at Tahoe Meadows off Mt. Rose Highway, 10am to 2pm on Jan. 8, 2011.
        Details on the event are at tahoerimtrail.org.

  4. kj says:

    I saw the link to your blog, and this post, specifically, from Tahoe Mountain Sports on Facebook and thought I’d check it out because a) I’ve been trying really hard to get motivated to run/exercise again now that it’s winter and b) because I used to live in Reno and thought it would be interesting to see what’s going on there.
    I ran cross-country all though high school and even for a year in college (in Florida- no snow to worry about there! :)), and on and off again ever since then (including some in Reno, but only on the “dreadmill” at Gold’s).
    So I’ve since moved back to my home state of West Virginia, and got a job, and like any job it has its ups and downs. For the last month and a half, I’ve had running clothes in the back of my car with the intention of running during my hour lunch break, but kept making excuses, primarily that it was too cold. I, similarly, am cold all the time and could not imagine going outside in the cold any more than necessary. But, and the reason for why I’m writing all of this, is to let you know that your article did inspire me and I went running this week- twice! Well, jogging/walking… :) It was painful, but only on my muscles (and lungs- they have been sheltered from the cold air for a while), as soon as I started running I was warm and happy and it felt great.
    Also, some of my excuses for not going during lunch also revolved around my co-workers not necessarily making fun of me, but thinking it was weird (I’m already the only female employee- I don’t need to do other weird stuff too! I already make them all recycle, now exercise too!? I’m definitely the weird new girl on the block/office). So I was pleasantly surprised when I got back to the office and a couple of them said they were inspired by my running, and might even come with me next week!
    My husband and I are going snowshoeing tomorrow, I’m trying to embrace this winter thing and keep remembering that being cold will only last a little while, and being healthy will last a lifetime!
    Thank you for your inspiration- which has started a chain reaction 2500 miles away. I hope everything in Reno is well, we certainly miss it – sometimes :)

    1. elaine! says:

      That is so awesome! Especially that your coworkers are impressed and inspired too. I do hear you on the lung issue though, I get this crazy cough after a run in the cold. Thanksfully it usually goes away after a few hours. :) Enjoy snowshoeing — that really gets your heart rate and core temperature up, too.

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