Winter running can seem like a game of tug-of-war. One side has your running goals and routine pulling for it while the other has frigid temperatures, shorter days, Netflix on the couch and beer by a fire pulling for it. To us, it doesn’t seem like a fair game. We decided we wanted it all. The only way to get it was to head out on a run trip filled with long runs taking in the beauty of winter, having beers around a fire and not feeling guilty for going to bed early because well, its dark outside and we ran hard. We loaded up the rnnr van and headed to Big Bear Lake, home to miles of trails, incredible mountain views and where cold temperatures make sense because there is fresh powder on the ground.
There are endless options of trails in the Big Bear Lake area ranging from two miles to 2,660 miles (aka the Pacific Coast Trail which many of the trails link up to). We checked out the Big Bear Visitors Bureau which gives you descriptions of great trails to explore and a super helpful map to print and take with you. The Castle Rock Trail was highly recommended, and it did not disappoint! The trails were covered in four to six inches of snow which had us testing our orienteering skills. There is nothing like the motivation of finding the van before sundown to keep you going.
Every day was a new adventure as we explored different trails. Some trails were soaked in sun which allowed for some good footing at a quick pace, some involved sliding downhill on long thick patches of ice while others involved scrambling up some boulders to explore a different side of the trail. No records were set for time but every trail we explored gave us unforgettable and epic views.
Once we were officially frozen and our legs were shot, we headed back to indulge in all the wintertime activities that were trying to convince us to skip our run. Thanks to a little pre-planning (sticking some beers in the snow), there were cold beverages waiting for us when we got back. We grabbed some tamales and started a fire to defrost us from our time on the trails. Our evenings were filled with stories of past races and goals for the future. After three days of running in the mountains, it was time to head back to the grind. One thing is for sure, there is no better way to get motivated to run in the winter than to break up the routine and explore something new with your running crew.