Guest Post: Running in Winter (Outdoor or Indoor. . .Ice or Monotony)

I am entering this winter the fittest I have ever been and I’m keen to keep that up. There is, however, this small problem of being Canadian and therefore having to deal with pesky ice and snow.

When I look around my small-ish town’s trails at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, I still see runners everywhere. In fact, I saw two running in the snowstorm that hit us last week. I can’t decide if those people are a little bit out of their minds or if I’m missing something but my experience of running in the winter is never going to include running in a snowstorm.

I know that there are many of you reading this saying to yourself, “Stop whining and just move indoors”. But that has its own issues.

First of all, treadmills. I mean, when people think about ditching their highly competitive, stressful, boring office jobs and moving out to the country with a few chickens and a milking cow, they use the phrase, “I’m getting off the treadmill”. Why get on a treadmill on purpose? I have also read that the forces on the body in the stride on a treadmill are fundamentally different, more hip flexor, less glute. Any woman over 35 who has ever picked up running later in life knows that additional stress on her hip flexors and less activation in her rear end is the last thing she needs.
I am lucky to have another indoor option.

There is a track in town that is suspended over an indoor ice rink. There are a lot of good things about that. It is always cool and cool temperature running is good for me. I don’t have the running in place while the ground moves under me problem and can therefore vary my stride naturally and activate those glutes!

However, I’m going round and round and round and round. It is such a strange thing to go around a 200 m track 26 times. Sometimes, it is nearly soothing, the monotony of it. I breathe, I focus and I run mindfully. However, much like what happens to me when I try to sit mindfully, there are bursts of intense mental discomfort in the form of boredom and other pesky thoughts. Thoughts like, “What lap am I on?” “I hate running,” “Is that guy going to lap me again?” “What’s for dinner?” “I don’t want to have to walk the dog after this.” Etc.

Yesterday, I did manage an outdoor run in the morning with my running buddy. It was cool and dry and quiet. Even for a person who hates running (me) it was lovely.

There really is no dilemma here. I know that. Indoor running when it’s icy or storming, outdoor running when it’s dry. Indoors trying to be mindful in the monotony and outdoors being careful to avoid breaking bones. Keep moving, don’t look back and long for spring.

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