Chasing 42

Life, the Universe, & Running

Sub-Zero Treadmill Avoidance

I’ve probably shared my dislike for the treadmill before. In the past few months, I think these feelings have only grown stronger. I certainly respect folks that can hit the treadmill at the drop of a hat, and in some ways I’m jealous. There’s definitely something convenient about being able to squeeze in a quick run no matter what the weather conditions might be. However, I just can’t bring myself to do it. No matter what I have to distract me, I always find myself bored after a mile or two. This is clearly a problem when you set out to run 20 or 30 miles. Hence, I’ve embraced cold weather running this winter.

This past week, the country was, as you are no doubt aware, engulfed in a frigid blanket courtesy of the “polar vortex”. The result was a level of cold that put this Minnesotan on notice, which is saying something. The temperatures on Sunday and Monday dipped below -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and a nice wind blowing out of the north meant it felt like -35 outside. Naturally, I suited up and headed out for a run. I suppose that in some ways, I saw this as the ultimate challenge to my avoidance of the dreadmill. I would emerge victorious…and with all ten fingers and toes too!


The news broadcasters were sending out dire warnings about going outside, and reporting on the immediate risk of frostbite. These were valuable warnings, and I am thankful that I am in a position in my life to have a warm place to sleep, a hot meal to eat, and no other concerns with regard to the weather. This is certainly a privilege that I am well aware of and am reminded of even more so in times like these. I also have the benefit of a variety of winter running clothing items and accessories which made it possible for me to head out for a run.

Challenge accepted...suit up!

Challenge accepted…suit up!

What you see above is the full extent of my wardrobe for this particularly chilly run. On my head I wore a UnderArmor Thermal Gear balaclava, which is perhaps my favorite piece of winter running apparel. It is thin, but keeps the heat in like nothing I’ve ever worn. However, I still put a stocking cap over the balaclava, and pulled up a wind resistant hood as well. I wore a UnderArmor heat gear base layer. On top of this I layered a heavy wind breaker, and then an insulated running jacket. I wore a pair of rubberized glove liners and an essential pair of Seirus mittens, which I’m convinced would keep my hands toasty warm in the Arctic Ocean! I pulled on a thin pair of running tights, followed by heavy-duty running pants as well. On my feet, I wore a pair of winter Smartwool socks, and my trusty Neosocks as well.

It took my feet about a mile to completely warm up. However, the rest of my body was beautifully protected from the wind and cold, and I’m pretty sure I felt warmer during my run than I did the rest of the day! Now, the downside to so many layers is the sensation of running through a swamp with all of the extra weight coupled with the snow. However, even my tryout as the Stay Puft marathoner still trumped any treadmill I may have otherwise found myself on. In the end, Mother Nature tossed me her worst, and I ran right through it!

Stay Puft

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4 thoughts on “Sub-Zero Treadmill Avoidance

  1. I must say…I thought you were crazy when you showed up at my door step on Monday, and I still think you are crazy after the fact. I would rather run on the treadmill, than venture out in the freezing cold.

  2. What can you say, us Iowan’s are TOUGH! 🙂 Well done on getting out there!

  3. I hate the treadmill as well, but I succumbed to it twice last week, because I hate layering even more. Way to get it done.

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