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Feb 21, 2024

Bye bye, winter blues!

It’s 10 degrees outside, and I’m getting ready to run. I couldn’t have imagined doing this just a few years ago – anything below 32 degrees was a no-no for me.

For those of us who live up north, freezing temperatures are inevitable for about 2-3 months each year, but many of us might choose to do our workouts inside during the winter. That’s an understandable choice – remaining active in some way is what matters most.

After years of staying indoors, however, those workouts started getting a bit too routine for me. There were only so many miles I could run on the treadmill or the indoor track without getting cabin fever. By February, some seasonal depression often started creeping in, and I found myself lacking the desire to do much at all.

I needed to get outside.

I got inspired looking at the social media feeds of other running friends who were posting their workouts in the snow and became even more motivated when they posted the weather at the time of their workout. They were getting out there in 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-degree temperatures (or less) and smiling when they were done. Many were doing 3-mile runs, but there were some long runs of 10 miles or more.

I even found a few races that played on cold weather as a theme. I figured a little bit of Vitamin D could do me some good and make me feel better during the dog days of winter.

Want to give cold weather running a try? Consider these tips to make it more comfortable.

Layer, layer, layer: You might need two pairs of socks, pants, and shirts (with a jacket on top) if you’re running in sub-20-degree temperatures. Layers will be your friend in bitter cold weather, so be prepared to pile on the gear. One helpful tip I learned from cold-weather running veterans is to wear gloves under mittens for extra hand protection. It works!

Don’t worry about speed: There are few big races that take place in cold-weather areas in the winter, so right now, it’s ok to just focus on maintaining fitness. When it warms up somewhat, you’ll be in good shape to start adding mileage.

Be careful on the roads: Snow and ice are nothing nice, so watch where you step. Some of the worst injuries I’ve seen have come from making a misstep on a hard-to-see ice patch. (I injured my hip that way two years ago!)

Have fun: It might not seem possible when you’re shivering but keep moving because you’ll warm up more quickly than you might expect. Look for races that have “frozen,” “freezing,” “frostbite” or other cold-weather words in the title to give yourself a goal to work toward – those snowflake medals will look so cool on your medal rack!

Winter will never be my favorite time for running, but I’m glad I decided to embrace the outdoors more often during the season. There will be some days when outdoor exercise will be completely off-limits, of course, but try to get outside when you can. You’ll be amazed at the benefits for your mental and physical health.

By Shannon Shelton Miller /Twitter: ShannonSMWrites, Instagram: shannon.shelton1

Shannon Shelton Miller is a longtime writer and journalist who enjoys writing about sports, fitness, health, beauty, and parenting. She has been running for 27 years, starting from joining her high school cross-country team. She has run a marathon, two half marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races.