The excitement and joy of running through the landscape motivates me to get outside in winter. Just get out the door and let your feet do the rest of the work. A lot of the time, the conditions dictate the speed of an outing. Winter is the perfect setting for heading out the door with zero expectations. Conditions could be groomed and fast or it could be a postholing nightmare, the variety in conditions help keep things fun and interesting. Running through winter on the Front Range is pretty easy actually. Rarely do temperatures get down into the single digits, and most of the time its actually above freezing temps. Running through winter helps brew the excitement for warmer months to come.
Wake up - coffee - dress accordingly - lace up the shoes - head out the door.
For me, an ideal winter run in Boulder consists of running the 1 mile from my house to Chautauqua, choosing from a variety of routes that ascend around 2,500~ feet to the summit of Green Mountain, and then running an equally diverse set of trails back home. All before breakfast.
Here are some photos from a rather snowy day on the slopes of Green Mountain at the tail end of winter.
A weaving path of trail and rock steps is my path while ascending between the Flatirons and up into the sunshine. The first few snowy steps outside are always a bit of a shock to the system. After a couple minutes of running, the body begins to warm up and things become totally reasonable.
When the conditions are this snowy, I prefer to take the steep untracked slopes up to the summit of Green Mountain. Hands-on-knees power hiking is the reality most of the time. Running is taxing and inefficient when the conditions are deep and the grade is steep. There is something oddly rewarding about breaking trail and setting a track up a mountain. Exploring familiar terrain under the context of winter allows for a better understanding of the mountain and the seasons. The Flatirons provide the ultimate backdrop for a snowy run in the hills.
Thanks to a large running community in Boulder, the trails around town are almost always packed down and consolidated. When the trails are packed down, they become FAST. Phenoms like Cordis Hall live for these conditions. He clocked a 13:26 descent down the front side of Green this winter.
The Green Mountain summit plaque covered in Frost. The coldest day of the season this year was -10 degrees Fahrenheit on the summit. Now that is cold.
Wind is gnarliest thing about running through winter in the Front Range. The wind can be punishing at times, and this area of Colorado is notorious for some blustery conditions. Wind matched with cold temps can create tough conditions for running, but this just adds to the overall experience of getting up a mountain.
The summit of Green Mountain
Running downhill through a layer of fresh snow is the definition of fun. If the conditions are just right and the snow is deep enough, one is able to float down the mountains. The feeling of coasting downhill with little effort is quite possibly one of the best things about running in winter.
Photo Credits: Garret Creamer