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Running in the snow......is HARD!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My current training plan called for a 13 mile run this morning. Having recently survived a 12 mile run on the treadmill and not enjoying the experience all that much, I was determined to do this one outside. At 23F, the temperature was reasonable. The wind chill brought it down to 17F, still not bad. I know how to dress for that.

Having just been blessed with a few inches of snow the day before, running on the sidewalks was not an option, as many people out here in the 'burbs fail to clear their walks. And though the streets were clear, I decided to do this run in the local forest preserve on the bike/running path. Last year I had discovered that the path is usually cleared after a snow, and given that the path is about a 12 mile circuit, and most of it is protected from the wind by the trees, it seemed like a good place to do my 13 miles.

As you have probably already guessed from the title of this blog, the path had NOT been cleared. It was covered with at least 2 inches of soft snow. But, I was already here, I was dressed for the cold, and from the footprints left behind by others, I was not the only idiot out here. I had my water bottle, I had my nutrition bars, the garmin was turned on, I had to give it a try.

It wasn't so bad. At first. After all, I wasn't out for a speed run. This was my long slow run. And it was SLOW. Soft snow doesn't give a lot of grip. With every step, I tended to slip a little, so I needed to adjust my stride to compensate. And because I was striding differently, I was stressing my muscles differently. I soon discovered that it was easier and safer to make my own path through undisturbed snow rather than using someone else's footprints. Although the slipping was more pronounced in fresh snow, the landing surface was smoother so my feet were not twisting as much.

So the first few miles were slow but comfortable, but I also knew I was working harder. After 5 miles, I was working a LOT harder. It was time for some water and an energy bar. Well, the water was fine, but my energy bars were so solid from the cold, I couldn't even bite off a piece. Oh well, it's a good thing I ate that entire bag of licorice jelly beans the night before, at least I've got carbs stored up. Let's keep on truckin'.

It took another 4 miles to convince me that this had not been a good idea at all. That treadmill, that had previously seemed like a torture device was now turning into a pleasant memory and I was wishing oh so much that I had chosen it this morning instead of this miserable, cold, disgusting snow covered path. I was NOT a happy camper.

I had covered just over 11 miles when I got back to the area where I had parked my car. I was DONE!! Those last 2 miles were not going to happen TODAY. I probably did those 2 miles anyway just from slipping with every footstep. I was never so happy to just SIT DOWN.

The crazy thing is, I'm glad I did it. I got my run in. As miserable as it was, in some strange way, it was still good.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I know what it feels like to run in the snow, and think to myself, what the heck are you doing this for? I also know what it feels like to be done. It's the pride of knowing I got out in the elements and made myself better today. There are a lot of people who used it as an excuse to stay the same. You are very inspiring.
    1800 days ago
    Oh man, I can't even imagine running in snow (and I'm guessing without Yaktrax)... But you DID it..and gained the satisfaction of getting it done.
    1887 days ago
    I'm on an injury enforced prohibition from snow runs...or any outside runs right now....but I learned to love those slow runs in the snow for what they are...beautiful and different and the main thing I learned is to approach those runs more as time runs instead of mileage. They are harder so they just get logged in to the training as such and aren't you proud of yourself for doing this safely?

    Reading this I have learned something else about you friend....Thin Mints and licorice jelly beans....what other vices do we share? Oh yeah...running!
    1916 days ago
    Running in snow is HORRIBLE!! I don't even like walking in it! Congrats on an AWESOME success. I'm so very impressed.
    1917 days ago
    The hazards of winter in the midwest. I think there should be some sort of running in snow conversion chart. Each mile equals 1 1/4 miles in new snow, 1 1/2 miles in slush, etc.

    Sometimes the toughest, most awful runs are the ones I appreciate most. They are the ones that let me know I'm committed. Or perhaps that I should be committed. Runners ARE nuts. But in an awesome way. Good for you for toughing out the run.
    1917 days ago
    Good job! Are you sore today?

    Good think it is okay to run slow on a slow run!
    1917 days ago
    Two things

    1. It got down to 20F overnight when I was at the Grand Canyon and I froze. Good on you for running in those temps!
    2. I can barely walk in snow, let alone run.

    You are awesome!
    1917 days ago
  • APED7969
    Great job sticking that out. I don't miss living somewhere with snow to run in!
    1918 days ago
    Your determination is amazing.
    1918 days ago
    I seriously cracked up laughing at the last part of this blog. I know *exactly* what you mean!! We are nuts!! :D
    1918 days ago
    I am so glad you didn't fall and get hurt! Please be careful!
    1918 days ago
    My step-daughter runs in snow all the time. I say she's crazy. She loves it. She insists (and I'm sure she is right) that it is one of the best tools she has to condition her body to "run like the wind" come spring. I, on the other hand, love to run in the heat of the south during the winter. Yup, we're all nuts - or freaks as my son-in-law insists.
    1918 days ago
    Too funny! Hope you have a good recovery from that one, it sounds like you might need it. Keep up the training!
    1918 days ago
    Yes, runners are nuts. I agree with Boilham that finishing a run when it's 90 really is somehow rewarding. I guess it is the same with a difficult run in the snow.
    1918 days ago
    Just curious; Did you have waterproof breathable footwear? Were there any problems with soaking socks and or shoes?
    1918 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    Running outside is better than treadmill, but i dont know if i would have had the fortitude. Good for you, sticking it out!
    1918 days ago
    I know all aboutthat slip-sliding foot weirdness of snow that saps the life out of you! I think I would still take it over the dreadmill though, any day!
    1918 days ago
    I am in awe! Nope, no way would I have considered it. Way to go!!
    1918 days ago
    Oh gosh you're going to be sore from that tomorrow! The oddest thing I find from running on snow/ice is that my feet and ankles get muscle sore from it. I always cut my mileage way down to compensate for the extra/different kind of challenge from running in the snow.
    1918 days ago
    I had the same experience today! I love to run in the snow, but today it was soft and the bike path wasn't cleared, the snow was really coming down and hitting my face and getting in my eyes. But like you when I was done I was glad I did it. As far as being nuts I was getting the impression that every car that passed me thought I was! Oh well what we will do for the love of running.

    I will choose snow over my treadmill any day. I will only use my treadmill as a last resort. Don't like it much.

    Hope the next time you go conditions are better!
    1918 days ago
    LOL!! Runners ARE nuts!! Your story sounded absolutely miserable to me from the second line down...this florida girl was cringing for you with every stride (:
    1918 days ago
    Ah hah. Now you can see why when I run in 90 degrees plus Florida heat, I am miserable while doing it, but oh yeah, when it's over, I knew I did something good. The satisfaction of overcoming miserable conditions is something you just don't get on a treadmill.
    By the way, I love licorice! And licorice jellybeans are the best.
    1918 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/23/2013 7:01:10 PM
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