There’s a chapter in Ron Daws’ 1977 book, “The Self-Made Olympian,” titled Cold’s Not So Bad. In four words of local dialect, he conveyed Minnesota runners’ guiding philosophy. Daws, and before him, Buddy Edelen and Van Nelson, practically invented running in Minnesota, and by default, the art of winter running.

In true pioneer spirit, Daws eschewed “fancy and expensive” gear in favor of thrift store clothes and DIY projects. “I buy a pair of oversized wool slacks at Goodwill, then wash and dry them so they shrink to fit. This tightens the weave and keeps out the wind. Unless it is very cold or windy, this is enough on my legs. If not, I wear old pajama bottoms underneath.” Years before advanced tech fabrics, Daws’ answer to a wicking base layer was a cotton string T-shirt. On top of that, one or two turtlenecks and a windbreaker. “At minus 30-50 windchill, I might wear another T-shirt.”

He counseled against ski masks because they were hard to adjust, and suggested instead a wool neck gaiter (made by opening the top of a cap) and wool hat, pinned together in front of the ears. Dressed in this manner, Daws may also have inspired the idea that winter runners are a little off.

Daws illustrated this chapter with a frosty-faced photo taken after a 15-mile run in minus 15 degree weather. Falling on the ice, he said, was a drawback in that it slowed him down; snow was “good resistance running;” and winter running made him tougher “if only for having dragged 7-10 pounds of clothing around for months.”

Advancements have been made in gear and clothing since the 1970s, even as Minnesota’s winters have warmed an average of 1.1 degrees per decade during that time (says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). But Minnesotans’ attitude toward a canter in the icebox has not changed — cold’s not so bad.

Here, edited for space and clarity, are the words of several runners about their wintry worsts and how they carried on:

Wendy Surprise, 53, St. Paul

Competitive runner since 1990

“I run outside every day, no matter what; it has to be at least 3 miles to count. This past winter, on Jan. 30 and 31, the temperature was minus 27 and minus 22, and it was windy. Typically I don’t wear anything over my face (except Vaseline) because it freezes when you breathe and then you have a chunk of ice on your face. But I did wear a balaclava those days. Two pairs of thermal tights and windpants over that. If your shoes are too tight, you’re in trouble. I’ve taken the insoles out of my shoes so I can wear more socks, and I’ve duct taped the top of my shoes to keep the wind out. It’s not pretty. I love old-school hand warmers inside my mittens. On top, a couple smartwool tops, a sweater, a neck gaiter, and when it’s really cold, a down jacket. It’s lightweight, but I hate that whooshing sound.”

“The best time to run is 4 to 5 a.m. The roads have been plowed and you can run right down the middle because there’s no traffic. It’s your planet; you’re the mayor of St. Paul from 4 to 5 a.m. It can be slippery, but I find the less careful I am, the better. I can run across a frozen lake but I have trouble walking carefully across a parking lot. I don’t wear a headlamp — it makes me sick to my stomach.”

“If I can’t bear to start out into the wind, like you’re supposed to, I’ll at least try to get out of the wind. I’ll drive to Fort Snelling to run in the woods.”

• • •

Dan Docherty, 30, St. Paul

Professional runner with Team USA Minnesota

“We had a 20-mile run and the water along the path had frozen, so it was slick. [Down on Lilydale Road] there were two areas where the road had flooded with a mix of ice and water. I tiptoed around the first one but had to go through the second — one of my shoes got completely soaked. I continued up toward Fort Snelling and was moving pretty good when I wiped out pretty hard. This was about mile 17 of the run. I ended up averaging 6-minute miles, so it’s certainly the fastest I’ve run in extreme conditions. You have to give yourself a break by about 8-10 seconds per mile in the cold. Someone told me cold is the ‘poor man’s altitude.’ ”

“A facemask is a must. I like trail shoes for better grip. I also use a full-foot strike, almost like a heel strike. It may slow me down, but normally keeps me on my feet.”

“After a snowstorm, you can tune into Strava to see where people are running that day.”

• • •

Gloria Jansen, 72, White Bear Lake

Competitive runner since 1987

“I ran most Saturdays with a group in Maple Grove. Once in 1995, the actual temp was minus 15 and it was really windy. We decided to drive out to Fletcher and run back with a tailwind. I wore layers, none of it cotton. After that run, I purchased a green neoprene facemask.”

“Another time when I was training for a winter marathon, I trudged through deep snow to the Southdale parking lot before the stores opened, and ran up one row and down the other, after the plows.”

“For icy conditions years ago, I put a few short screws into the bottom of my shoes, from the outside. Even though it wasn’t the pointy end against the snow, it seemed to work OK. Now I use DueNorth traction aids (spikes).”

“I’ve turned into such a winter running wimp — my Silver Sneakers membership at the YMCA has been very useful!”

• • •

Pat Lanin, 81, Brainerd area

With his wife, Emily, 79, a competitive runner and skier for 60 years

“In the 1980s, Emily and I did the 45-kilometer Wilderness Trek [cross-country ski race] that started in Ely and ended in Tower. The temperature at the start was minus 29. Now, ski races aren’t held below minus 4. Clothing then left a lot to be desired. It was mostly wool or cotton/wool with a nylon windbreaker over that. We both wore two layers of nylon windbreaker on top of a thermal layer, which turned out to be a big mistake. Moisture collected between the layers of nylon and changed to ice. By the time I finished, I was wearing baggy bell bottoms with about a pound of ice surrounding each ankle.”

“Always, always, always run or ski into the wind on your way out. I learned that lesson the hard way.”

• • •

Michael Moran, 17, St. Paul

Competitive runner

“Last year, I went out on a day when the windchill was minus 40. I just wanted to see if I could do it; the opportunity to run in that kind of extreme doesn’t arise all that often. My outfit was wool socks and my running shoes, leggings, two pair of sweatpants, a shirt, a thermal jacket, my dad’s bomber jacket, mittens, a balaclava, and a buff. I went 2 miles. My breath froze on my eyebrows and sealed my eyes shut. No one was out, there was no traffic, so I ran in the street, which was kind of surreal. Like you were the last person on Earth.”

“I have one piece of advice — moisturize. The cold and wind, it feels like your skin is burning.”

“I won’t go if it’s icy — it’s dangerous and not fun. Then I’ll run stairs or the treadmill, and pretend it’s summer.”

Sarah Barker is a freelance writer from St. Paul.