Dashing Through the Snow: Exercising in Winter

Baby, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop running! We’ve talked to the experts for tips on running and exercising in winter, a cross-training workout to do indoors, and the perfect yoga pose to help you run longer and stronger.

by Rachel Jones | Photographs by Cayla Zahoran
Dashing Through the Snow: Exercising in Winter

“With this gear, there’s no excuse for not running in the winter.” -Bob Shooer, Fleet Feet Sports



Bob Shooer wasn’t always a runner. In the early 80s, as a former smoker, Shooer couldn’t even complete one lap around Mt. Lebanon High School’s track. But he stayed determined and now has a whopping 26 marathons under his belt! “Running becomes part of your life and enhances the quality of your life,” he says.

To marry his passion for running with his background in retail, Bob bought the Fleet Feet Sports store in 2007, becoming the owner and president. “Fleet Feet is a locally owned specialty running and walking store that caters to a wide variety of demographics,” Shooer explains. His philosophy is all about the perfect fit: the store caters to finding the right fit for each runner, and the Fleet Feet members fit into the running community by supporting local runners and setting up group runs across the Pittsburgh area.

Fleet Feet offers an amazing assortment of running shoes, accessories, and seasonal apparel. These clothes are made from a technical fabric that keeps moisture away from the skin, provides warmth, and protects you from rain and wind. Instead of getting dressed in bulky layers, Fleet Feet’s clothing is lightweight and efficient.

“With this gear, there’s no excuse for not running in the winter,” he says.

Dashing Through the Snow: Exercising in Winter

This unisex knitted shoe conforms to your foot for a custom fit. Since its TV debut at the 2012 Summer Olympics, these have become a “cult shoe” in the running community. | Nike Fly Knit Racer and Trainer Shoes, $150.



Dress as if it’s 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it is outside. By the time you start running, your body heat will make it feel that way! “This apparel really helps runners overcome any obstacles in the winter. Once you get through the winter, man, there’s nothing like running in the spring.”

1. Good running shoes. If it’s snowy, wear trail shoes, which have more traction.
2. Moisture-wicking socks, which pull moisture away from the skin.
3. Pants/tights can be thinner or looser fitting, but will still provide heat retention for the lower body.
4. Base layer: thinner piece to keep moisture away.
5. Middle layer: heavier piece to keep in body heat.
6. Light jacket to resist the elements, like wind or snow.
7. Accessories, such as hats and gloves, to keep in body heat. These can be layered for extra protection.

Fleet Feet Sports, 1751 N. Highland Road, Upper St. Clair, 412.851.9100, fleetfeetpittsburgh.com.


Indoor Alternatives

Shooer suggests that safety should come first when there is ice or lightening outside. To continue working out at a runner’s pace without risking a slip on the ice, we’ve looked into Ashtanga yoga classes. These 90-minute classes are very aerobic and keep students jumping and moving quickly.

“A lot of runners and athletes take the Ashtanga class because it’s a cardiovascular workout that increases stamina and endurance,” says Leta Koontz, principal of School House Yoga.

This intense workout starts with Sun Salutations, where students jump from a push-up position to Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog and then stand up. After 10 reps, the class moves on to 30-40 minutes of standing poses that focus on balance. Once the fast-paced part of class is over, students get to relax with Savasana, resting, and meditation. “I think a lot of people run for not just physical, but psychological and emotional reasons, too,” says Koontz. “This class is a physically intense workout, but it also helps clear your mind and let you focus.”

School House Yoga, 2401 Smallman St., Strip District. 2010 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. 5417 Walnut St., Second Floor, Shadyside. 7210 McKnight Road, North Hills. 412.401.4444. schoolhouseyoga.com.


Dashing Through the Snow: Exercising in Winter

South Hills Power Yoga student Chris Kroll demonstrates the Half + Full Pigeon Pose

You keep track of how many miles you log on your running shoes, but what about the mileage you’re putting on your piriformis muscle? This muscle stabilizes the hip, promoting proper hip, knee, and ankle alignment with each step. The Half Pigeon Pose uses breath, gravity, and time to release tension in the piriformis muscle — perfect for post-run stretching! Stacey Vespaziani, E-RYT from South Hills Power Yoga, tells us how.


1.   Start in Downward Facing Dog.
2.   While inhaling, lift your right leg behind you.
3.   While exhaling, draw your right knee forward to your right thumb and gently set it on the floor inside your right hand.
4.   Open your right shinbone toward the front edge of your yoga mat — about a 45-degree angle.
5.   Place a yoga block or towel under your right hip to square off your pelvis.
6.   While inhaling, lift your chest and create a tall spine.
7.   While exhaling, fold your torso over your right leg, keeping your pelvis square.
8.   Reach your arms out and let your forehead rest on the floor.
9.   Hold the pose for 10 to 20 deep breaths.
10. Return to Downward Facing Dog, and repeat on the left side.

South Hills Power Yoga, 3045 W. Liberty Ave., Dormont, 412.207.9535, southhillspoweryoga.com.


This article is featured in the December 2012 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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