Let’s be honest, once you get past the festive holiday season wintertime is pretty miserable. While there’s a certain romance that comes with spending a snowy night in front of a roaring fire with a good book and a tumbler of bourbon, every other aspect of the season stinks.
It’s a particularly problematic time of year when you’re a runner. The days are shorter, the temperatures are lower, and the sun is like an old friend who took a job in a new town and rarely takes the time to reach out and say hello. Then there’s the precipitation. Depending on your locale, your run routine has been made far less comfortable by cold rain, snow, ice or some unfortunate combination of all three.
So what are runners to do?
Some take to the treadmill to log their winter miles. But as a recovering treadmill runner, I’ve found it difficult to get myself back onto that human hamster wheel. I no longer desire to move my legs to a pre-set pace while my sweat sprinkles down upon a dashboard of flashing lights and numbers.
In the past I’ve simply pulled back on my running in order to avoid the elements and recharge my batteries. While I’ve enjoyed this pseudo-hibernation, the truth is I needed to do better this winter. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for me running-wise so I wanted to get off to a good start in 2017. So now I’m doing what most ‘serious’ runners do… strapping on a shitload of gear and heading out into the cold, dark outdoors.
To be fair, I don’t live in Minnesota or Western New York. I won’t have to deal with a snowpocalypse or sub-zero temperatures. But there are very few places in the continental U.S. that are immune to winter’s complete and utter disregard for your comfort. Though Florida comes close.
Up here in the Pacific Northwest our days become terribly short and we’re blanketed in damp grayness. To make matters worse, this winter the temps have been colder than usual, so I’ve had to really layer on the gear: tights, compression tops, fleece vests, hats, gloves, etc. But, alas, this is what I must do in order to maintain my fitness and keep my legs strong. I must endure running in frigid temperatures while trickles from my nose. I must navigate icy patches and frozen ground. I must venture out into the darkness and when I return home I must peel myself out of the aforementioned clothing, which due to my excessive level of perspiration, will need to hang to dry for at least a day in the laundry room.
In the end, I’ll be better for taking on the challenge of winter running. Come springtime, my training will be stronger, my dad bod will be (slightly) less dad-like, and my race times will be faster.
On the other hand, it’s possible none of this comes to fruition and I just end up being the same (slightly) overweight, slow person I was last November, in which case, I’ve wasted a perfectly good excuse to skip running and sleep in.
Well, at least I got a blog post out of it.