Feb 25

Survival Skills for Extreme Winter Running

As you all know, and are probably tired of of hearing, I’ve been buried in snow and trying to run my way out for months now. Between wind chills in the negative double digits, record snow fall and my husband staring at me and shaking his head while telling me “It’s just not smart” for the billionth time, it’s a wonder I’ve run outside at all this winter.


However, if I’m anything it’s stupid stubborn, so instead of dragging my sorry ass onto the treadmill everyday and complaining about it, I’ve adapted to the harsh conditions surrounding me like a snow leopard. Ok, maybe like a stealthy cat with nine lives, but you get the idea.

Here are the skills you need to hone, should you find yourself in a vast frozen land with nothing but your winter running gear and your wits:

Leaping snow banks in a single bound: If you don’t have cat like reflexes for jumping out of the way of speeding cars with sexting drivers behind the wheel, you have no business being out there. #Jump!

Absolutely no music: Putting on your iPod is a suicide mission. You will need your sense of hearing more then anything else. If you can’t see the cars over the 10 foot snow bank, you sure as hell better be able to hear them!

Make peace with being hated: There’s barely room for two cars to pass though what was once a road but is now a snow tunnel. This means a driver will have to actually come to a full stop, if there’s another vehicle approaching in the opposite direction, to avoid killing you. They will want to kill you. They will also let you know they could barely restrain themselves from running you over by revving their engine loudly, and making a huge arc around you as they give you a look of distain as they speed past. Of course this is warranted since you wasted 7 seconds of their life.


The ice dance: There is ice everywhere. You think you’re going slow enough to be able to slow up before hitting it, however, there will be surprise patches! Always be ready to do that little toe prancing, half step, pitter patter over the ice at a moments notice. You must return from each run uninjured so you can prove your point of how ‘perfectly safe’ it is out there.

Yelling at the wind: Winter weather is often accompanied by relentless wind. Even when your weather app clearly tells you there’s no wind, that one road will be like running behind a jet engine. Screaming obscenities into the wind helps in two ways – #1 you always feel better when you tell the wind exactly what you think of it and #2 it will help thaw your chin slightly.


When all else fails and it truly isn’t smart to run outside (which has been 90% of this month!) be sure to walk into the gym with your head hung in defeat, your eyes glazed over in total boredom as you look at your nemesis the treadmill, and start loud conversations with your running friends about the injustice of it all. Other gym members love that.

Be safe out there and may all your treadmill runs be swift!

Do you have any tips to add?

Do you yell at the wind?


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  1. Janine Huldie

    I just give you such credit for running outdoors ATT all, especially during this time of the year. Seriously, I am whining standing at the bus stop for Emma for less then 5 minutes in the freezing cold, so the fact that you are out there running amazes me. Hats off to you, Allie! 😉
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Happy Lily SurpriseMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Janine! At least when i’m running I’m generating heat and lots of it. Standing at the bus stop is a lot worse!

  2. Tina Muir

    I do not think you have come across whiny in any way, but I do agree with all these tips. I had many many many runs in harsh winters in michigan, and I had to listen to those, which was frustrating, but Allie, you will appreciate those 50 degree days SO MUCH MORE! You are so close!
    Tina Muir recently posted…#RacetotheAltar Cake Testing and Menu SelectionMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh I know! I look longingly at my shorts everyday!! We’re getting closer…

  3. Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama

    um yeah. Those are some great skills for getting through winter in the northeast much less running in it!!as I walked down my block yesterday I couldn’t believe how many mounds of snow were everywhere with multiple layers of snow and ice. All of it is hard as a rock and it’s going nowhere. Usually we thaw out there has been no such thing! I have a 5k on Sunday and the scheduled high is 32 and I am SO excited about that!!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…Weekly Wednesday Workout: Crazy EightsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh yes 32 is going to feel so warm compared to the negative temps we’ve been suffering though. Good luck!!!

  4. Hollie

    I do not like the winter either. I could skip winter for the rest of the cold and be fine as well. I have also had to stop running with my ipod in the snow because honestly it’s too cold and it dies about 3 miles in. I don’t want to ruin it so I just don’t run with it in the cold.
    Hollie recently posted…Marathon NutritionMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Now that is a first – too cold for even an iPod to work! Crazy!

  5. Jess@Flying Feet In Faith

    I love all this. Great tips! Especially about drivers hating runners lol my last long run I about got hit, I swear on purpose! You are such an entertaining writer. 🙂

    1. vita88

      Thanks Jess! I get a lot of death stares when I’m out there but I always just politely wave 🙂

  6. Jesica @rUnladylike

    Oh man! So sorry you are so challenged with your runs up there. We keep getting threats of snow but nothing has fallen here in ATL. You would laugh that they keep closing school every day there is even a chance of flurries. What gloves to you wear to keep your hands warm in the really cold temps below 15 degrees? I sometimes have issues with my fingertips burning and would love to know what you recommend. xo
    Jesica @rUnladylike recently posted…Running Romance: Planning Running DatesMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I always wear mittens, either TrailHeads or The North Face. I also use hand warmers and then I take them out when they get too hot. They have saved me more then once!

  7. Jen@milesandblessings

    I am no winter fan that is FOR SURE!!!! I was done with winter on December 26th and it had yet to begin :). Christmas Eve and Christmas day are the only days that snow is permissible for me so this is uncalled for! Each year I try to psych myself up for it and pretend it will be adventurous…doesn’t work! I pretty much try to get outside at all costs so I have definitely been the crazy lady doing all of the above :). I would also add ditch the watch, forget any idea of pace…it’s not going to happen the way you want 🙂
    Jen@milesandblessings recently posted…Happy Belated Valentine’s Day & Training Re-capMy Profile

    1. vita88

      That is great advice! And I too go into each winter with a positive attitude but this winter would put anyone over the edge!

  8. Kristin Miller

    BRAVO! Love this. My husband is such a worry wart, but I only get to run outdoors Saturdays and Sundays, and chances are one of those days will be no good so it’s usually just one! He keeps telling me “You have to take care of two people now, you can’t get hurt” every time I come back uninjured is a win. Plus, every time I’ve “fallen” while running (Which is more than I’d like to admit) it was SUMMER. Go figure!!!

    1. vita88

      It’s probably because you’re extra careful in the winter! And yes, we are running for two (or three) but a running mom is a happier one 🙂

  9. Your Husband!

    “billionth”? Maybe millionth. next runner I see trying to squeeze in between a 15′ wide street while I’m driving will definitely pay with a revved engine…if I’m not busy sexting I may even give them a dirty look as I pass them 😉

    1. vita88

      Your support knows no bounds. I’m a lucky woman.

  10. misszippy

    Yes to al of this! Up until this past week, I have pretty much still had sidewalks and the running/bike paths available to me, but we did get about 8 inches on Sat., so now those are off limits. So now I am public enemy number one out there to drivers. I don’t care. I would just add in that if you can wait until there is daylight, do. This has been much easier for me this week as the sun is rising earlier and I am running so much less thanks to the taper.

    It’s March next week–that counts, right?
    misszippy recently posted…How to know if you’re race readyMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I never run in the dark unless it’s summer. Plus, it’s literally been in the negative double digits until at least 8am. March cannot get here fast enough!

  11. Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness

    The ice dance!! Ok, i have to tell you it makes me SO nervous when runners whiz by me on the sidewalk and I feel like i have a responsibility to call out “please don’t slip!” I get that terrifying rush — you know when you slip and you feel it through your back and stomach and head as your life flashes — just from walking. slowly. so girrrrrl — God Speed.
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Snowbank NationMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Charlotte!! I’m definitely so careful with the ice. It’s the patches that sneak up on you that can be an issue!!

  12. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf

    haha Love this! Yes! The ice dance. I totally look crazy sometimes when I’m slip sliding on the sidewalks. I totally yell into the wind too. I mean, it’s kind of amazingly satisfying.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…Relentlessly Raising the Standard with OrgainMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Isn’t it though?? Thanks for making me feel less crazy Christine!

  13. Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness

    You covered the majority of them! I never tried really yelling at the wind but I’m sure I dropped a few F-bombs this last Sunday. It will get better….right?
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted…Half Marathon Training Week 5My Profile

    1. vita88

      It has to!!! Spring is almost here…of course with it comes more wind!

  14. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

    My biggest pet peeve are drivers who don’t move over. I get it when there’s other cars but when it’s just you and the car and miles of pavement…move your shit over!!! I totally yell at the wind. Usually it’s a loud, disgusted Argh!!!!!! Like I’m a pirate or something.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…Bringing Strong BackMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Agreed! They come so close when there’s no reason. And I’m loving the pirate yelling. I’ll have to try that next time.

  15. Yum Yucky

    The words “extreme winter” and “running” do not go together. They don’t match. Shame on you for writing this post!
    Yum Yucky recently posted…Colloidal Silver Cough Drops. Do they really work?My Profile

    1. vita88

      You’re absolutely right. *hanging head in shame*

  16. Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot

    Great advice, haha!

    I have found that I can run all the way to -20 (around 0 Fahrenheit) without “suffering” too much as long as I am dressed warm (and wear cleats under my shoes when the ground is icy or snowy). Colder than that, my lungs suffer too much. BTW, I have asthma. Keep up the good running!
    Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot recently posted…The Less is More project: Week 8 – Wake up and smell the coffeeMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I often run with a friend who has asthma and it’s so hard on her. She has to bring her inhaler when we go long. Keep up the tough runs! You know they will all pay off!!

  17. Kim

    HaHa – just the thought of all that snow is making me colder!!!
    You already know my thoughts – treadmill and DVR/movies!!!
    Kim recently posted…TrailHeads – Not Just for Running Trails!!!My Profile

    1. vita88

      I know! You’re the smartest one Kim. Keep it up!!

  18. crabby mcslacker

    This totally cracked me up, and as usual, I am in awe. When I think “ice” I think “cream”… that’s what comes from wintering in San Diego!
    crabby mcslacker recently posted…Mindfulness, Exercise, and GrousingMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Hahahaha!!! I love that! I’ll be thinking (and eating) a lot of ice cream while in Vegas where it’s WARM!

  19. Natalie

    This is awesome!! Totally agree about no music! It is dangerous enough when there is zero snow!!
    Just a little bit longer and spring will be here!!! 🙂
    Natalie recently posted…Nat’s Runbit #21 – Stunning marathon locations that will make anyone want to do 26.2!My Profile

    1. vita88

      I know. Counting the days!! And, before you know it, I’ll be complaining about the heat.

  20. Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

    My tip…..hmmmm…..hit the treadmill 😉 Bet you didn’t see that one coming, LOL.
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Could it be? The cure for overeating: MealEnders review and giveawayMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I know, I know but ugh!!!

  21. Jodi

    I laughed pretty hard at some of these!! I loved the ice dance. I signed up for a winter trail series this year. Due to the weather it was a very adventurous trail series! I grabbed onto quite a few trees to spin around to keep on the path! I feel like each run is me vs the elements. I feel so much more accomplishment when Im told its too cold! (apparently Im stubborn too…) I yell at the wind, the ice, and I yelled at the trail during my race too. Fortunately my yelling is coupled with laughter.

    1. vita88

      I love that you had to grab onto trees to steady yourself! That is pretty awesome and yes, I too feel more “accomplished” when I have to battle my mind AND the elements. Keep going!!

  22. GiGi Eats

    I HATE WHEN PEOPLE LISTEN TO MUSIC WHEN THEY SKI OR SNOWBOARD! Yes, I have done it some times because I get super paranoid because I think someone is just going to come crashing into me!!!!!!!!! And I hate not being able to hear anything. I cannot stand when people listen to their music when driving too – YOU NEED TO HEAR people honking around you and stuff! UGH!!
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Protein-Packed Crunchy Love BitesMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I could never listen to music when I snowboard! You need to hear the WOOSH of people behind you!!! That is just insane.

  23. Samantha Dube

    Wow, you’ve motivated me to run in winter, I’m afraid of being cold as my body barely produces heat. I live in South Africa we get snow every 100 years or so lol meaning I’ve never even snow.

    1. vita88

      I may need to move there…

  24. Tamara

    ha! This is funny. I love leaping snowbanks, but it’s hard not to do it without music, so I guess I’ll wait for spring to run.. at all.
    You forgot the best tip at all about running in extreme cold – book a trip to Vegas instead! Run there.
    Tamara recently posted…100 Days.My Profile

    1. vita88

      Hahaha – seriously!! Thanks Tamara!

  25. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

    All the ice scares me. I am trying to stay away from routes with a lot of cars these days, and mostly I’m snowshoeing!
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…Middle Eastern Yogurt Chicken with Cilantro Basmati RiceMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Agreed. The ice is very scary. All kidding aside, I’m extremely careful when I go out…which I rarely do these days.

  26. Britt@MyOwnBalance

    I pretty much hibernate when it is below 60 degrees I’m a total wuss in winter weather. You are right, it is not so much the snow and ice as the wind that gets you!

    1. vita88

      Oh the awful wind!!! I’m sure I’ll be complaining about that pretty much all Spring.

  27. Jen

    I loved this post! I took my life in my hands yesterday trying to run outside because I just couldn’t face the treadmill another day. The temperature was 28, which is the highest I’ve seen in weeks (maybe months!) so, even though the wind was 30 mph I decided to brave it. Turns out the wind was blowing the snow across the roads making them look like snowfields and further obliterating any hint of a shoulder that there might have been. I’m pretty sure the drivers were not happy with me. Truthfully, I wasn’t too happy with me. Should have just sucked it up another day and gone to the gym. Oh, and good point about the music. I was mad that I had forgotten my ipod but it was definitely for the best!
    Jen recently posted…Week Two RecapMy Profile

    1. vita88

      It’s brutal out there!!! I can definitely understand the driver’s frustration and, I question my sanity as well but the treadmill is maddening!! Good luck making it to Spring…

  1. High Five Friday

    […] Survival Skills for Extreme Winter Running – Allie says it perfectly. Practice your bird and yelling skills. Here’s to a warm […]

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