What My First Winter Run was Like

I have been running for several years now and would much prefer outside vs. the treadmill. Anybody else on board with this? It just isn’t the same because it feels artificial and not as challenging as it would be running outside. But, I will say, it is good for maintaining speed, endurance, and avoiding the winter slump. I have yet to meet someone who prefers the treadmill over being outside. So, if you enjoy running outside, I’m talking to you because you know how frustrating it is when fall and winter are right around the corner.

If you’re unfamiliar with Minnesota winters (Duluth to be more specific), it can get brutally cold. For example: January and February are notorious for extreme below 0 temperatures. Nobody wants to be outside in the bone chill cold, let alone to go for a run. To pass the time, I would always either use a treadmill (if I had a gym membership at the time) or waited out the winter, which would basically be turning the clock back for lack of training. Once springtime came along, I was rusty and felt like I had to start all over again.

I knew of people who would brave the cold weather and would occasionally see one or two people running outside among the big snow banks. Two things came across my mind as I noticed this: 1. they are absolutely crazy and also 2. respect for not letting winter stop them. I always wanted to try winter running, but was afraid of it being too cold, of not layering enough, of slipping on the ice, the list went on. It was really just a list of excuses of why I shouldn’t. So I didn’t.

We recently started cutting back on our expenses to pay off debt. Around this time, we had signed up for a gym membership and my trial pass just happened to not work. I was frustrated and thought for a moment that I’m never going to get a workout routine and I was stuck inside because it’s winter. But I decided to make the most of our situation and give winter running a chance. I quickly researched to see what other people had done when they ran out in the cold. From my brief research, I discovered I had everything in my closet and at this point I really had no excuse.

What I learned is that the important thing is to layer smart. It’s a good idea to start your first layer with something breathable. It’ll be cold at first but when you get moving, you will quickly warm up. If you use any cotton material as your base layer, it won’t protect your body heat and you’ll end up having a miserable run. It may sound like a no-brainer to some people, but I didn’t know that until I learned how to layer the right way.

You also don’t want to layer too much either as this will be counterproductive. All I wore for my top was a polyester t-shirt, with a polyester long-sleeved shirt, and a spring jacket. For my pants, I had two layers of leggings with windbreakers. My socks were wool and of course I wore a hat. I was very warm during my run, however, the only thing I regretted was that I did not wear a scarf to cover my face nor did I wear the proper gloves, so my hands were pretty cold. Other than that I was fine.

February was abnormally snowy this year and the day I went for a run was no exception. The wind was very gusty with snowstorm conditions. We had gone through a series of being dumped on with several inches of snow at a time and then warming up with time for some snow to melt. So there were snowbanks and snowdrifts (yes, snowdrifts) taller than me and ice throughout. I had to be very careful about dodging patches of ice. Running through bits of snow wasn’t too bad, but it was challenging, in a good way. As I turned the corner to go around the block, the wind that once served as my alley to push me up the hill, now worked against me. It was brutal! This is when I started to really regret not having a scarf with me.

Before going out, I set a goal for 2 miles but because of the weather conditions, I missed it by a quarter of a mile. I wasn’t even upset by it though. Just the fact that I layered the right way, I actually went out for a run instead of making the same excuses was a win for me. It was honestly liberating because it showed me that I cando it regardless of what the conditions are outside. Yes, I forgot to put a scarf on. Yes, that meant my lungs were paying for it the rest of the day. But I was so satisfied the rest of the day knowing that I had accomplished a fear that I had always wanted to overcome. I got fresh air, I got outside in (somewhat) sunshine, and I got moving. This is something I will be doing again in the future.

What is something you have been wanting to try but too afraid to do it? If you find yourself like me and making every excuse in the book, then it’s time to ignore them and take the risk. If you also find yourself yearning to try that one thing out every time you think about it, it’s time to do it! I’d love to know about it!


The Leal’s


One thought on “What My First Winter Run was Like

  1. Love your blog…..especially how you end it with an encouraging word that I picture as a bridge that connects you to your reader. Using the combination of gifts God has given you is fulfilling a calling on your life. Reading about your life adventures that are filtered through your heartwarming passion for God and your husband and the love you have for people is like adding a sweet layer of raspberry jam to an already nourishing peanut butter sandwich. God bless you. Keep up the great work. It is going to be fun to follow your path through life. ♥️♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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