Gathered: Winter Running & How Community Keeps the Fire Stoked

Leggggs community members chime in on staying connected and beating detachment during the colder and darker months.

Winter, man. (Like, “Summer, Man,” but, different…) Good start there, Jonny

I was reading the other day about SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, and how it only, officially, impacts about 5% of the population. While stats are hard to argue with, I just feel like there’s more to it and this is far more widespead than we’re caring to admit to ourselves and each other. I got to thinking, then, about all these emails and posts right now about holiday gift-guides or TeN bEsT tHiNgS tO hAvE iN yOuR cOlD wEaThEr KiT content-forthe-sake-of-content click-grabs. I get the sell sell sell content (because now EVERYONE is a content marketing,) but you lose anything with soul or authenticity approaching connection that way.

So then, thinking about SAD, and thinking about being sold versus talked to, I felt a disconnect. A new thermal layer from Tracksmith is a must (and I’ve asked for a new pair of lined-tights for Christmas,) but that’ll only take my spirits so far. There are still some threats to mental wellness that need addressing:

  • There’s a need for extra motivation to get up and get going, whatever that may be, when the days are shorter
  • Circadian rhythms are thrown off 
  • Calendar invites might be accepted, but more oftentimes out of habit without the intention of attending the event
  • It’s fucking dark and it’s sad
  • Generally, it can just suck to move or think about doing anything that isn’t blanket-related 

Winter is either coming, or it’s here, depending on when you read this. And from the illumination of my artifical sunshine light, I decided that instead of sitting around “forcing” myself to run, and generally just be stoked, I’d ask the Leggggs community about all of this. Specifically, and because I need this myself, I want to help relay not only any cold-weather essentials but more importantly, how one stays motivated to run in the dark and cold months. And this, frankly, is a way better approach because I don’t have any clue what I am talking about half the time, and I’m easily dissuaded when the sky is gray. (I wore my Nike Down Parka with shorts all winter last year… which was a great look if you want to give off the allusion of not wearing pants.)

This is about more than gear. This is about maintenance. This is about continuing the charge of finding a connection with the road, the trails, the track, each other, and a passion when the times are both physically and mentally tougher. This is about feeling less lonely in the dark.

On the secret to staying motivated to run in the dark, cold, dreary winter months:

  • Usually I’m training for something. What’s worse: arriving at the start unprepared, or just showing up in your training and working through that discomfort? I would feel more pain from just giving up. We don’t do this sport because it’s easy. – Ryan / @ryanyambra
  • Running with friends! Always run with friends. – Kennedy / @nickerkenn1
  • Running in the dark, in the cold, feels like a little secret. And it’s a special secret when you run with friends or say hi to a fellow runner on your solo run. Only Santa should be out during these hours! It gets harder in January, though, when all the fun is over. – Caryn / @notcaryn
  • Having a dedicated crew to brave the bitter mornings. – Xavier / @z_xav_z
  • Plan for cool wintery weekend runs. There are some great trails that are even better in the winter than summer and I look forward to them each year. Also, having an early spring race to train for helps – Renee / @go_renee
  • A burning hot belly full of a weird mixture of spite and love of the sport. All jokes aside – I love snowy runs! It’s definitely the northerner in me, but winter isn’t so bad. Less people, after a mile you warm up, the post run steamy shower. All magnificent. – Sam W / @samuelwellman
  • What’s winter? – Jeremy / @jeremybsmith
  • I love winter running. No races to prepare for, no heat stroke, no crowded sidewalks – just good friends, hot coffee, and training purely for the love of the game.  – Trevor / @trevhains
  • What will get me out the door for sure is knowing I have someone waiting for me at a trailhead. So a good group to keep you honest. Also, running in cold or bad weather inherently makes you a bad ass. – Bret / @bretfromreallife

What is one essential, must-have piece of gear that gets you through the cold runs?

  • A good pair of gloves! Water resistant and well insulated. Such an important accessory considering we lose much of our body heat from our extremities. – Ryan / @ryanyambra
  • Not a piece of gear, but merino wool was my savior last winter. It locks in the heat but is breathable – truly the best winter running material out there. – Kennedy / @nickerkenn1 
  • Thick socks are a game-changer. The first body parts to freeze are my toes. And, this might sound silly, but putting ear pods in even if I’m not listening to anything helps to keep the cold air out. – Caryn / @notcaryn
  • I love the Patagonia houdini jacket. It’s nice for retaining heat but still breathable so that you won’t get too sweaty and uncomfortable underneath. – Xavier / @z_xav_z
  • Absolutely good gloves. I prefer wool, especially merino wool, as they keep your hands warm even when they inevitably get wet. But the real key is to carry more than one pair so I can change out to dry gloves. It’s a quick downward spiral when my hands get cold because then I’m less inclined to try to use my frozen fingers to eat or even change out another piece of wet clothing – Renee / @go_renee
  • Tracksmith brighton baselayer is my favorite piece of running gear. Full stop. Summer/winter. Its magic. – Sam W / @samuelwellman
  • Not living where it gets cold enough to matter. (but i work in nyc as well, and the answer is good gloves) – Jeremy / @jeremybsmith
  • Sam stole my answer – the Tracksmith Brighton baselayer is hands down the most versatile article of winter running clothing. Sponsor me, Tracksmith. – Trevor / @trevhains 
  • Another vote for the Patagonia Houdini (air), and a good pair of gloves. – Bret / @bretfromreallife

Does anything change in your routine during these months?

  • I become obsessed with fireplaces and warm drinks. I feel like I savor those moments of comfort more during these months. Before and after my run I’ll curl up next to the fireplace with a book and a cup of coffee. It fills my soul. – Ryan / @ryanyambra
  • I use my sunrise simulation alarm clock every day. It’s so dark in the morning and having that warm light tricks my brain into thinking that it’s later than it is, making it easier to get up and go. Hot coffee too. – Kennedy / @nickerkenn1 
  • Less mileage overall. This is a good time for downtime! No need to log hard miles all year long. Let Rudolph wrack up the mileage (ok done with the xmas references I promise!). – Caryn / @notcaryn
  • I double down on my activation drills and stretching before and after my runs in order to avoid injury. – Xavier / @z_xav_z
  • Yoga makes it way back into my schedule. – Renee / @go_renee
  • In the winter i am not opposed to a one way run + SOS call/metro home to avoid a gnarly headwind. – Sam W / @samuelwellman
  • I run more bc I prefer not overheating, summers have gotten out of control both at home and on the road. – Jeremy / @jeremybsmith
  • I try to do a big strength training block in the winter months – that way I can have quads like Xavier. Usually, 3x a week in the gym – which means slightly less running and/or less intense running. It’s a good physical reset. – Trevor / @trevhains 
  • Mainly the only thing that changes in remembering to grab a headlamp. Maybe a warm beverage in a hydroflask to look forward to when you get back to the car. Warm apple cider saves lives. – Bret / @bretfromreallife

Thank you to the Leggggs community for chiming in on this one, and I truly hope it helps someone stay the course when the course is iced over (literally and figuratively.) 

See you out there, friends.

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