Winter Runs for the Newbie: Overcoming Inherent Challenges and a 5k to Prove It | Guest Blogger

Our favorite new runner, our sister-in-law, Melissa, is back. Take it away Melissa:

I have been in a bit of hibernation mode recently. I guess the reasons are fairly obvious. It’s winter, and this winter has been particularly challenging, with the plunging temperatures, heavy snowfalls, and a record-breaking ice storm just a few weeks ago.

In the summer, I made it a goal to run every second day. This felt good and manageable in my schedule. I am new to running, so that was pretty much all I was focusing on: just getting out the door every two days. My memory may be eluding me, but in hindsight, it seemed so much easier then! All I had to do was grab some water, tie up my laces and open the front door. I liked to run at night because the heat of the day had passed and the anonymity of the darkness cloaked my self-doubt.

This is my first winter running, and I am beginning to understand the challenges involved. But I look at running as an art of overcoming challenges with endurance and grace. (I imagine most have more grace than me).

I have listed the challenges I have noted this winter and my plans and actions to conquer these challenges.

1. Challenge: Winter running requires more gear, and a larger investment if you are on a budget. I am definitely on a budget this year because of our plans to move in the spring, and even when I’m feeling a bit extravagant, I still suffer from sticker shock whenever I go into a specialty running store.

  • Action: I have been able to curb the expenditures by shopping at discount retailers, like Marshall’s or Winners, where I have purchased some cute base layers at a price that I’m comfortable with.

2. Challenge: Some days, the barrier between my warm, comfortable home and the grey, windy, cold outdoors feels impenetrable. Although I feel like a caged bird, I am reluctant to leave my bubble.

  • Action: Granted, there have been days this winter when outdoor running seems inhumane. On these days, I can still have my run indoors. The local recreation center has an indoor track that offers free public use at certain times of the day. I also enjoy use of the treadmill, utilizing settings that incorporate hills, and interrupting the monotony by trying some intervals at a higher speed.

Our local running track

3. Challenge: There is a pesky, persistent, convincing voice in my head telling me that it is winter, a time to hibernate and store some fat for the cold weather. Bathing suit season is months away. Surely I can indulge a bit now if I get my act together by the spring.

  • Action: I would be lying if I said that I never listened to this inner voice. That being said, I have been able to quiet this tendency by setting short- and long-term goals for myself. I met a short-term goal on January 1st by participating in a 5k fun-run hosted by the Running Room with my sisters-in-law. I have also set the ambitious goal of completing a half-marathon in the fall of 2014. I know I have a lot of work to do if I want to make this a reality, so I have started researching training programs and schedules to help me make this possible. This has helped to keep me motivated and focused.


In conclusion, winter running has proven to be challenging for me as a novice runner, but I don’t plan on giving up easily. And, given all of the hurdles, there are some elements that are very enjoyable. The snow-covered landscape on a sunny day can be breathtakingly beautiful. I have never enjoyed a cup of hot cocoa as much as I have when coming in from a cold run. And words of pride from my husband have made me feel never stronger. So, let’s show this Canadian winter who we are!



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