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Amelia Nielson-Stowell: Reasons to Run: Running through the cold winter months

Published: Thursday, March 17 2011 4:47 p.m. MDT

At the end of February, my gym pass expired. And I'm not renewing it. This would not be that big of a deal except, well, were you in Utah during the snowstorm Tuesday?

More and more this winter, I've been running in the bitter cold. As I confessed in January, it has been a challenge for me. But with my first marathon approaching in May, an unappealing gym pass renewal fee and a deep-rooted hatred of treadmills, I committed to running outdoors this winter.

Winter running has had its triumphs (like the number of times I thought "How did I run in the summer?" because my body felt so good after a cold-weather run) and its challenges (slippery ice, biting wind, piercing snow, freezing rain, cold muscles, lonely roads). But I've found that those few, but gratifying triumphs, have outweighed the many easy-to-overcome negatives.

I took some tips from Tanya Boyer at Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon magazine. The first five minutes of winter running, she said, are the worst.

"I know that it is brutally painful and cold, and your brain will remember that pain and not the free feelings of running," Boyer said.

She suggests first warming up for a few minutes inside―using a jump rope, running up and down stairs or even doing a quick cleanup of the house.

I know runners―the hardcore variety, who have run numerous marathons and clock jaw-dropping PR times―who completely retire in the winter months. I can't blame them. I don't think winter running is something that ever gets easier for runners to master.

But winter training has made the ever-elusive mental aspect of running easier for me to tackle. If I can run in the dead cold, I can run a 10-miler. Bring on the black ice and snow drifts.

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