Running in the Freezing Weather

By Jenna Schifferle

Running during a blizzard: “The first mile felt miserable, and the second mile passed at a slow pace.”
Running during a blizzard: “The first mile felt miserable, and the second mile passed at a slow pace.”

One year ago, life as we know it changed. Going into public suddenly brought heightened fear and anxiety about getting sick. Our personal lives, professional lives and responsibilities now intertwine in ways that feel overwhelming. This has undoubtedly impacted how we interact with the world around us, bringing about new challenges to our mental health.

For me, the COVID-19 pandemic has made my home the epicenter of everything I do — working, exercising and virtually socializing. Some days, this constancy feels like a welcome break from the grind of commuting and overbooking myself. Other days, it feels like a lonely think tank.

Running allows me to clear my head, but the cold wintery months often discourage me from getting outside. This, of course, just compounds the issue. I often resort to logging miles on the treadmill to avoid the weather. Despite this, nothing compares to fresh air, even when it’s biting cold out.

Earlier this month, a blizzard hit on a day when I was scheduled to run seven miles. I found myself dreading the thought of the cold while simultaneously feeling like I needed to get out of the house. After dragging my feet for hours, I finally found myself outside my front door. The wind whirled by as the snow blew diagonally down the road. My mind wanted to pull me back inside. Instead of listening to it, I took a step forward and got started.

The first mile felt miserable, and the second mile passed at a slow pace. By the time I reached three miles, I felt lighter. By the fifth mile, I noticed the serenity around me. The vacant streets were dusted in white, a blank canvas brushed only by my footsteps. The wind slowed to a soft flurry and the snowflakes grew thicker. Despite the ice on my eyelashes, it felt like I was a tiny figurine in the middle of my own snow globe.

The world is full of these little wonders. Often, it just takes a little push to get through the storm and find them. To date, I have achieved a 43-day run streak before taking a day off, and I have exceeded 230 miles for the year. Many of those miles involved running, but many also involved walks outside while bundled up in bulky layers and warm gloves.

If you’re looking to get outside this winter, here are a few recommendations. I’ve explored all of these places in 2021 and highly recommend them. Just note that you may want to use Yaktrax, snow shoes or other winter footwear to prevent falls.

• Tonawanda Rails to Trails

• Eighteen-Mile Creek, Hamburg

• Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, Depew

• Chestnut Ridge, Orchard Park

Winter can be tough, but with a little push, we can all feel like kids in a snow globe. Here’s to hoping we all find wonder this season!