Winter Running Adventures in MN:

This week’s training blog has been hijacked by Nic (me!), the resident non-runner at STRIVE, who is trying his feet out at a little bit of running. Unfortunately, I live in MN and for those of you who are unaware, MN has horribly cold winters.  Treadmills are possibly my least favorite activity so figuring out a way to get outside and run is essential if there is ANY possibility of that happening. Due to the week of Dec 25th – Dec 31st being unseasonably cold even for here, I thought I’d share with you some lessons learned on running outside in the MN winter.

In honor of attempting to stay somewhat true to Tyler’s style I’ll give you a day by day recap of how the week went.

Mon – Dec 25th:  Temperature: Who Cares?

Umm, it’s Christmas and only crazy runners run every day, including Christmas. That’s right I just sat around, ate a bunch of food and enjoyed not having to go outside and being lazy.

Tues – Dec 26th:  Temperature 20 degrees in West Virginia

Tuesday is workout day, even for amateurs like myself, so I had a 3 km warm-up jog around the college campus in town, followed by 10 x 1km at a 3:32/km average (5:41/mile pace for those of you that don’t understand the metric system!) and a 3 km cool down.

No snow! Not cold. Winning in the winter.

Interesting observation:  When running at a high heart rate in temperatures below 30 degrees, you’ll find that the farther you get into your workout the colder your hands get.  I’ve not experienced this phenomenon before because I haven’t run hard when it’s cold out (because who would do such a thing). However I know now, that at some point during your workout (for me around the 7th– 8th km repeat) it feels as if a vampire came and sucked all of the blood and warmth out of your hands instantaneously. It’s the worst. THE WORST.

Wed – Dec 27th:  Temperature 18 degrees. Snowing.

6 km shakeout because I’m a baby and my somewhat chubby legs need a break from running that hard. Still in West Virginia.  Still considered warm in MN parlance.

Thurs – Dec 28th: Temperature: 5 degrees,  Feels like -10.  

11 km Easy Run.  You run without a facemask and you die at this point.  Lots of layers and if you bundle up enough you’ll be ok.  Do your eyelashes freeze? Yes!  Eyebrows? Yes! Any loose strands of hair that escape? Yes! It’s cold people, really cold.  Also, because once it does get cold in MN, it doesn’t get warm again until April that means you are running on snow and ice. Be careful or don’t! It doesn’t really matter since your whole body is numb anyway. You won’t feel the broken bones and torn tendons until 6-8 hours later when you thaw out.

Lesson Learned:

  • Hat goes over the facemask/balaclava. Yes, you need to wear a hat on top of the thing already covering your head. Helps to hold the balaclava in place and is so much more stylish.

Fri – Dec 29th: Temperature: 1 degree, Feels like -15.

4 km warm-up, 10 x 1 min hill sprints, 4 km cool down.  Another workout! Two in a week: Feeling a little overworkedhere.  Not sure if you are noticing a trend but it’s getting colder.  See photos to understand just how cold it is out.  Also, no one should ever do 1 min hill sprints. Why is this a workout that someone would recommend? You basically feel a few breaths from death for 30 minutes.  I’m stupid.

Lesson Learned: 

  • Brain freezes don’t happen just when you eat something cold too fast. It also happens when it feels like -15 and the wind hits your forehead.
  • Yes, it is possible for your eyes to freeze closed. Just in case you were wondering.

Sat – Dec 30th: Temperature: -11 degrees. Feels like -30. (there are no typos there)

6 km easy run.  See a pattern?  After a workout, I’m lazy, real lazy. Or smart. Most people would call it smart I think.


Lessons Learned:

  • Ski googles! I got smart today and pulled out the ski goggles so no part of my face was exposed and it was magical. So warm and cozy.
  • Gloves inside mittens are needed and it’s still difficult to keep your hands warm.
  • The outside of your shirt just starts to freeze when you are outside at that temp. Seriously?



Sun – Dec 31st: Temperature: -12 degrees. Fees like -32.

25 km run.  15 km at easy pace, 10 km at 160-165 HR.

Lessons Learned:

  • Ski goggles! Not so magical anymore. Turns out that feels like -32 after an hour of running is just too cold and they freeze over on the inside. Couldn’t see anything at all! The only good news is that I was able to look through blurry goggles until about 13k at which point I had turned around and was now running with the wind and goggles went up on the forehead because I assumed there was at least a 50% chance of having two functioning eyes at the end of the run with the wind at my back.
  • It is possible for icicles to form on the INSIDE of your facemask. What is that? Just condensation from breathing? Snot? Probably a combination of both. Gross! See photo.
  • The rubber on your shoes freezes…immediately and it’s like running on rocks. Crossing a road sounds like a tap dancer making their way across the street….in slow motion.
  • Never, ever, ever consider taking your hands out of your glove/mitten combo. I don’t care what your reasons are…don’t do it.
  • Move from MN as soon as humanly possible.

Snot icicle perhaps? That’s the INSIDE of the facemask by the way.

And that, my friends, is how you get through a week of sub-zero temperatures and avoid a treadmill.  Feel free to take notes.