More thoughts on winter running - Chi Running

More thoughts on winter running

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Mon Jan 11th, 2010, 3 comments

They’re predicting that the days are going to be warming up this week, thank God. It’s been a difficult time for those of us who insist on doing our Chi Running outdoors. I’ve still been going out running regularly, but I must say, there have been a couple of days where the only thing urging me outside was my dog. When I have gone out running, I’ve limited them to a slower running pace than I’m used to. There’s something about running in the cold that tells me it’s not the time to push the pace. With snowy vistas and sub-freezing temperatures outside my body is telling me to just stick with maintaining my aerobic base until conditions warrant running any faster. I’m fine with that.

Another reason I take it more slowly in the winter is for injury-prevention purposes. Running on refrozen slush or mud is an invitation for a rolled ankle, so I have to practice my “dance steps” through the rough spots while constantly searching out smooth running routes. One of the exceptions to the Chi Running “rule” of always landing in a midfoot strike is that I negotiate most of the really rough, uneven sections while running on the balls of my feet. I know I’m on my toes for only brief periods, so I’m not worried about stressing out my calves or shins.

Wintertime has never struck me as a time to do anything fast. So, I just spend my time taking in the stark beauty that surrounds me, stopping occasionally to take in a view that is only offered during the winter months.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are richly endowed with deciduous trees, providing great shade and shelter from the rain in the hot summer months and mind-boggling colors in the fall, but which allow very few expansive views of the horizon anytime except winter. When I first moved here I felt claustrophobic when running trails. Having spent most of my life in Boulder and then in Northern California, I was used to seeing hundred-mile views on a daily basis. So, there are things about winter running here in Asheville that I appreciate.

I’ve also always enjoyed the quiet of running in the snow. Right after a fresh snow here are less cars, less people…and everything is covered with a white silence that feels deeply peaceful and calming. Winter is a time to go inward, to rest and gather for the coming spring, and the harsh weather offers us all the perfect opportunity to slow things down in many ways.

Have a great winter,



  • injury prevention,
  • winter running,
  • aerobic capacity,
  • running training

3 CommentsLeave a comment below

Karen Martin Jan 18th, 2010 04:36am

I love running in winter, especially in snow. I love hearing the crunch of snow under my feet and the variety of the road surface makes things more challenging. I too slow down somewhat but feel I get a great workout due to the uneven terrain and the fact that I’m carrying a couple extra pounds of clothing. I am new to Chi running (but have been running for 20 yrs.) and I’m loving it. I was born for this.

In Philadelphia we get our share of cold weather.  If there are no snow and ice in the roads picking up the pace is fun.  My only caveat is more warm up is required.  I tend to jog easily for 15-20 mins.; followed by 3-4x 15-20 sec. strides and then I am good to go.  Winter does not have to damper your spirits.  Go ahead and push the pace.  Just be sure that you do a thorough warm-up.

richard Kibbey Jan 31st, 2010 07:17am

We had an eight or nine inch snow this week. I took my short snow shoes to the golf course for an hour walk. In the process I used some of the chi principles of forward lean and rapid cadence. The snow shoe requires the heel to come up and a mid-foot strike. I even did some short bursts of running. This is obviously not practical for very deep snow but seems to be a way to keep going in the winter. I really wasn’t worn out like I usually am from this occasional activity and credit that technique.

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