Contrary to my previous adamantly held belief, it is indeed possible to go running outside in the winter and enjoy it.
As part of a New Years resolution, I’m trying to spend more time outdoors this winter season because I know the nature enthusiast in me will be happier if I do. So far, I’ve bundled up for a midnight meteor shower; obtained heated shoe inserts so my feet are toasty on long outdoor excursions; and at least contemplated picking up downhill skiing again for the first time since a socially traumatic incident in the sixth grade.
I’ll work up to that last one. In the meantime, I’m working on getting back to outdoor activities I typically enjoy in warmer weather. That includes running, though I’ve always been heavily skeptical that I’d find running outside in below-zero weather worth it in the end.
Turns out, all you really need is good gear and positive company.
On Jan. 4, my roommate, Rachel, and I decided to brave the cold and participate in a community run hosted through the new running business in downtown Eau Claire, Blue Ox Running. The temperature that night was 5 degrees below zero.
To keep warm, I used the following layers (some of which Rachel graciously loaned me): a pair of tall and thin SmartWool socks; fleece-lined leggings; a pair of tall and thick SmartWool socks over the top of the first two layers; a merino wool, long-sleeved shirt; a warm Patagonia sweater; my Leader-Telegram windbreaker; a thin neck warmer extended over the top of my head; a fleece neck warmer; a pair of gloves; and a Packers hat.
It took a while to get dressed, but most of my body was toasty throughout the 3.5-mile run. If anyone uses this blog as a dressing guide for their own winter run, consider adding another layer to your thighs. Mine weren’t unbearably cold, but they weren’t comfortably warm either.
Cold legs aside, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of fun I had. The people we met were friendly and in high spirits, and there was hot chocolate waiting at the end of the run — with marshmallows. Worth it.
— Lauren French, reporter