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Weather could not stop Cobber athletes

Despite cold winter, numerous Cobbers continued to run

Photo by Maddie Malat.

One of the most popular forms of staying active and healthy during winter is keeping a regular running schedule. However, this can be tricky because we live in a state where we get excited when our temperature reaches double digits for several months out of the year. So how do runners stay active during these cold months?

Throughout the fall, sophomore Kaya Baker runs for Concordia’s women’s cross country team and does not stop when the snow arrives. According to Baker, throughout the 2014 cross country season, she ran at least 45-55 miles a week.

“During the season, I was running six days a week, twice a day on Mondays and Wednesdays,” Baker said. “It was hard work but rewarding and fun at the same time.”

Freshman Sarah Curran is also a member of the women’s cross country team, and tended to run six or seven days a week during the season. However, her running schedule changed after the season ended, which is when the runners were allowed a week off to rest.

“Some people call it ‘fat week,’ where we splurge on things we normally don’t eat during season,” Curran said. “I had quite a few root beer floats in DS.”

However, this break is short lived for Curran and her teammates.

“After that week is over, we get right back at it and start doing base miles for the upcoming indoor track season,” Curran said. “So in the long run, the end of one season just means the beginning of another.”

Both women enthusiastically admit that they still continue to keep up a running schedule in winter once the season is over, though it is slightly different than their running schedule during the cross country and track seasons. They talked about the three of the most common ways to run are running outdoors, running inside or outside on a track or running inside on a treadmill.

Instead of running six or seven times a week, Baker mentioned she tries to get one to three runs in each week. Her favorite form to stay active is running outside, even in the winter despite the slippery ground and windchill.

“Sometimes I run on the treadmill, but I prefer to bundle up and slip around outside in the snow,” Baker said. “As far as running on the indoor track goes, I have never gotten more than three miles before losing count of the laps, so I try to avoid that at all costs.”

Curran also enjoys running outside in the cold weather, but like Baker, she utilizes other options as well.

“I prefer to run outdoors, but if it gets too icy or insanely cold, I’ll run on the track,” Curran said. “My last resort is the dreaded treadmill.”

While Curran and Baker don’t have much of a problem with running in cold weather, it is not a very appealing activity to others. Coach of the men’s cross country team and men’s track and field team, Garrick Larson, stresses how it is important to wear proper running gear outside when running in the cold weather.

“I can’t tell you how many eye rolls I get from my runners when I suggest two layers and long socks,” Larson said. “I think if I was a collegiate athlete trying to compete at my highest level, that I wouldn’t leave small stuff like long socks and a second pair of pants that could ultimately cause or contribute to an injury.”

Larson talks more about the potential consequences that come with not bundling up properly when choosing to run outside.


“When it gets cold I mostly worry about injury that can be caused or exacerbated by cold,” Larson said. “One of the big ones is patellofemoral pain, also called condromalacia, which is really a scratching or roughing of the underside of the knee cap. It’s like running an engine cold, the oil can’t do its job to protect the parts as well.”

Larson also said that general fitness runners should not get too caught up in going for runs outside when it’s cold. He recommends running inside on the track or treadmill and gives some tips for those as well.

“I would add one suggestion for indoor running on the track and that would be to alternate directions every five minutes or so, alternating between clockwise and counterclockwise,” Larson said. “Running only one direction puts extra strain on the shin of your inside leg.”

A common belief about running in the Winter is that that running outside is more dangerous than running outside during warmer months, and according to Larson this is true. Larson acknowledges that one of the biggest issues with running outside in the winter is hidden ice under thin layers of snow. But there are dangers that come with running year-round.

“Running on the street has it’s own dangers,” Larson said. “We tell our runners to always run facing traffic, so on the left side of the road. Running on the right side of the road puts your back to traffic and is more dangerous.”

Many people find that it can be very difficult to obtain the motivation needed to keep up a regular running schedule when it’s bitterly cold outside. Baker and Curran both said that a great way to keep motivated is by running with a buddy.

“Find a running buddy who will agree to stay with you, through thick and thin, sickness and in health, through homework and stress,” Baker said. “Having another person keeps you accountable and gives you someone else to talk to.”

Another helpful way to motivate yourself to go for a winter run is to do it mentally.

“The best thing I can say when you are lamenting about getting outside to run in the cold is to focus mentally on how you will feel after your run,” Larson advises. “Almost all of us feel better when we are done; we have a sense of accomplishment, pride and relaxation.”

Another good way to motivate yourself to make it outside or to the gym can be accomplished by setting personal goals. Larson recommends that signing up for a road race or a 5K is a great way to force yourself to stay motivated.

“There are road races almost every weekend of the year, even in Minnesota,” Larson said.

For those looking for a road race, Larson recommends going to, Minnesota’s Distance Runner’s Association website that has lists of multiple races in the area bound to fit your schedule.

Overall, the most important thing about running in the winter, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, is just getting yourself out there.

“We have a saying as runners that we all know is true, ‘The hardest part is getting out the door,’” Larson said. “The hardest part mentally is getting started. Once you are ‘out the door’ it doesn’t take very long to enjoy what you are doing.”

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