By: Alison Dunn Feb 02, 2010

If I hear one more person say, “It’s winter, you’re Canadian! Suck it up and take it!” I think I’m going to scream. (As an aside, the same thing goes with winter driving… every year, after the first snowfall, there are a ton of accidents. And every year, some smart aleck says, “We’re Canadian! We should know how to drive in the snow!”)

Yes, we know we’re Canadian. We know we should be able to suck it up and take the cold weather, the mountains of snow, the icy roads, the freezing rain… but let’s be honest. It stinks. Scraping off your car on a frigid winter morning? A three-hour drive to work on a jam-packed highway covered in ice, snow and slush? Runny noses? Frostbite? What’s there to like?

But we do live in Canada, and winter is very much a reality. When I talk to experts about various winter topics, their answers have a common theme: get outside. If you want to make the most of winter, you can’t hole up in your home and hibernate until spring. You need to get out in the fresh air and get moving.

A few years ago, when I first started running, I didn’t think I’d ever run outside in the winter. Run outside in the freezing cold? Not me, thank you. I figured I’d run outside when the weather was nice, and hit the nice, warm gym and its nice, warm treadmill until winter had passed.

Flash forward to today. I’m now that crazy person you see out there running in a snowstorm, pushing forward through the sleet, covered from head to toe in fleece when the temperature dips below minus 30. Yes, I’ve learned to take it outside.

It’s actually not nearly as scary as most people think. It’s really all about getting the right clothes (which doesn’t always mean the most expensive clothes) and the right footwear to eliminate any discomfort the cold might bring. If you’ve been thinking about running, hiking, snowshoeing or skiing to try and take your workouts outside, be sure to check out our Lifestyle article this week on what to wear during winter workouts.

Once you’re properly outfitted, you’ll see that being outside in winter doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, you may even find it helps you better deal with winter. We are Canadian after all!

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.