What it's Like to Be a Runner in Winter

You wouldn't know it by reading a thermometer any day last week, but winter has arrived (technically...) here in New Jersey. Save for this bout of El Nino that's giving us record-high temps (literally 70º on Christmas Eve), the mercury is dropping and we outdoor running enthusiasts are doing our best to prepare.

Some people really hate winter workouts. I don't. I mean, I hate parts of them—mostly the part before I actually do them—but I hate parts of summer workouts too. But in the end, I have immense love for winter running. My first run ever was on December 26, and in the following months we all learned the words "polar vortex" and there was that one day I accidentally drove to work without gloves when it was a real-feel of -8º and I had to run my hands under warm water for three minutes just to get the feeling back in them. (But that's beside the point.)

Winter running is a unique experience, if you live anywhere that has a winter to speak of. I wrote about some of the safety factors involved in winter running here, but I thought today we'd have some fun. Because I'm determined to inspire you guys to keep on running out there during the cold months. And also because it's nearly New Year's Eve, and we've earned ourselves a gif-heavy, fun post to cap off the year, right? Right.
Before winter comes, when the awful memories of summer training are still stuck in your mind, you romanticize it. Ahhh, low humidity! Crisp, cool air! I'll feel like such a badass running with the elements this winter.

But then the temperature drops below 55º for the first time and you have to break out the layers

and cover your ears or else it feels like your head is going to implode
(seriously, how can a little cold air cause so much pain to the ears?!)

and that first warm-up lap is more dreadful than the first minute after you step out of the shower on a winter day.

But you settle into it. This is the new normal, at least for the next couple of months. Winter is here, and treadmills are basically worse than not running at all, so you make concessions and learn to embrace the pros and cons of outdoor winter running.

Like the peaceful quiet that only comes when you run after it's just snowed... (pro)

and the ice patches and yellow snow piles that have you dodging and weaving all over the sidewalks in town.... (con).

You warm up and your body temperature evens out and it's actually quite nice out there on the road.

And you sort of bounce along, feeling awesome about yourself, dominating that workout like the superior human specimen you are.

Finally, you clock all your miles and come inside, only to discover your home is actually the seventh layer of hell and you can't get your clothes off fast enough because WHY IS IT SO HOT IN HERE OH MY GOD OPEN A WINDOW OR SOMETHING, JEEZ.

And then as soon as you get out of that sweet, deliciously hot shower, you hate 30-minutes-ago-you for opening that window because HELLO IT'S WINTER OUT THERE, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

And then as soon as you regain the feeling in your toes, it's time to go out there and do it all over again. And it's a nightmare of its own sort, but at least it's not 95º with 90% humidity after sunset. (Never forget that... the heat will return.)

Here's to you, winter runners. Here's to us. Embrace the cold-weather run. Reap the rewards. And in all seriousness, stay safe out there! (Don't be that girl.)


And that's a wrap on the last Training for Tuesday of 2015! Thank you all for joining us every month, linking up, sharing your stories, and spreading the love through this little network. Don't forget to check out Tracy's post today, link up below, and hop around to say hello to everyone else. See you in 2016 for a new year, new goals, new fitness endeavors, and new adventures!


  1. oh my gosh, that girl. what an idiot! but also, totally me. i have fallen over whilst running outside in winter more times than i have fallen over inside my entire life just by being clumsy. seriously. so, while i know runners everywhere hate the treadmill, i don't mind it. haha. but seriously, coming back inside after a cold winter run is like a whole new level of hell only runners experience because holy hot haha.
    thanks for the winter safety link, i swear i didn't think of some of those things. i need one of those bracelet things because i get way more scared running outside in the winter tan the rest of the year. i feel like i need some mace or something as well.

  2. Being a running in the winter - you guys all deserve medals! I remember there was a storm, everything was shut down and we had to go to the store for something and wouldn't you know some guy was out there running and clearly training for the marathon and all i kept thinking was it's okay to take a day off LOL! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  3. haha yes, the Portland video. Important to note that she was not from Portland, she was from New York and visiting her Portland boyfriend. Source: http://deadspin.com/meet-the-girl-who-ate-it-after-interview-about-running-1519389938 I can't fend for the Portland snow drivers though. They're real and awful.

    So fun to see a gifriffic post from you. Thanks for reminding me how much I don't miss the winter runs and hopefully when I get back on the road someday it'll be a sunny and clear 65. :)

  4. Love hate for sure! I love anything between 15 and 40 degrees. Colder than 15 makes me a whining, grumbling, complaining runner.

  5. Haha I love this! I find winter running to be super empowering. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing all the people out on those perfect weather days when everyone and their mom (and even Ben!) gets out for a run, but there is something about being the only one out trudging through snow and dodging ice puddles that makes one feel like a true badass. Winter running has its challenges, for sure, but I'd rather take on those challenges than summer's challenges any day!
    (Btw this just made me remember that the day before I came to visit last year, I waited alllll day for the weather to warm up to the highest temp of the day: 15*. FIFTEEN DEGREES. The high today is 68*. WTF.)

  6. Winter runs are my fave because when it's 95 degrees and 99% humidity at 10pm at night, I want to die. Every time it's less than 80 degrees here I tell myself I should be outside running, but even the 79 degrees has been miserable lately.

  7. As a long distance runner who always runs in the cold, rain, heat.. I love this! I'm actually hoping the temps stay low (finally). Running in humidity in December is rough. Happy New Year!

    Christina :: Simple and Delish

  8. Loving all of the gifs! With it being so warm last month there were a *few* times I was like it would be so nice to run outside today, but then I remembered that it got dark at like 4:30pm and running in the dark is too scary for me (scary as in, I would probably trip on something and fall, haha).


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