by Vicki Ikeogu
It’s a chilly December Saturday morning in Sartell. The thermometer has dipped to around 18 degrees. Fluffy snowflakes are slowly falling as the gentle breeze assists them on their descent to the frost-covered ground. The air is crisp.
Most people would be cuddled under a blanket, enjoying a warm beverage and getting ready to plan their weekend. But for eight local women, Saturday mornings from mid-November to April are spent hitting the paved trails in and around Lion’s Community Park in Sartell.
“It’s all about being prepared,” said Tami Huberty. “Hats, gloves, mittens, leggings. You have to dress in layers.”
Now in its second year, the Polar Run Club is giving women the chance to continue developing their running stamina and endurance throughout the winter months.
“A lot of us enjoy running (outside) during the winter,” Huberty said. “And we will be out there running unless it feels like the temperature gets down to zero.”
Starting with an 8 a.m. stretching and warm-up session, the group of women sets out on the course, running and/or walking anywhere between three and 13 miles during the morning before gathering for coffee and camaraderie at a local coffee shop.
“We get out there and run and jut have a good time,” Huberty said.
The Polar Run Club is an $85, 22-week running class offered by St. Cloud/Sartell Moms on the Run. Moms on the Run, founded in 2008 by Forest Lake resident Karissa Johnson, is an organization designed to help moms in particular get back into shape after having a baby.
Huberty started the local chapter in the spring of 2015.
“Moms on the Run is actually geared toward teaching women how to run,” Huberty said. “We do have quite a few women who are new to running. But a lot of our members are training for races.”
And with major races, including St. Cloud’s Earth Day run starting as early as April, Huberty said winter is no time for these athletes to take a break.
“I think the biggest thing about this is people want to continue running,” Huberty said. “And that’s our goal.”
Huberty chose to continue the Moms on the Run outdoor running throughout the winter for three reasons.
“Running indoors on a track is very monotonous,” Huberty said. “And running on a treadmill really isn’t a natural way of running. It’s not very good for different muscle groups. Plus, it’s more fun to be able to run with others.”
Huberty said students in the Polar Run Club learn how to properly protect their bodies during the frigid temperatures.
“The main focus is on keeping the core warm,” she said.
In addition, she said athletes need to remember just like running in extreme heat, extreme cold can affect the pace.
“The ultimate running temperature is 60 degrees,” she said. “You are going to run a lot slower if the temperature is a lot warmer or cooler than that.”
But more than anything, Huberty said Polar Run Club students learn the value of friendship through the sharing of fitness goals in frigid temperatures.
“For me, it’s about being held accountable,” she said. “(The Polar Run Club) is not a race. It’s all about exercising and having fun while doing it.”
Author: Janelle Von Pinnon
Von Pinnon has been publishing the St. Joseph Newsleader since 1989, the Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader since 1995 and the Sauk Rapids-Rice Newsleader since 2015. She graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with degrees in mass communications (with an emphasis on print journalism) and biology. She lives in southeast St. Cloud with her husband and two children.