The winter is winding down. It might not seem like it, what with the cold temperatures still lingering, but I know spring is on its way because the amount of daylight hours is increasing and my mood has gone from cranky to slightly less cranky.
While I’d really like spring to pick up the pace, I’m at least comforted by the inevitability of its return and what that means for my running routine. For me winter running is utter drudgery, a necessary evil that is endured, rather than enjoyed. Pacific Northwest winters are tame compared to other parts of the country, where runners are forced to retreat to treadmills to avoid the elements, but it’s still less than ideal. There’s just something about strapping on loads of gear – hats, gloves, vests, etc. – that seems somewhat contradictory to the whole experience. And don’t get me started on running tights, perhaps the least enjoyable part of staying active during months traditionally and rightfully reserved for hibernation.
This year, in addition to my usual seasonal grievances, I’ve become particularly aggravated with a specific aspect of winter running: my runny nose.
To be fair, colder temperatures wreak havoc on my nostrils whether I’m running or not. From November until April most of my pockets are filled with tissues, both the new and slightly used varieties, my only recourse in the battle against the menace of liquid snot. But when I’m outside on a brisk weekend afternoon attempting to keep my leg muscles at a respectable level of mediocrity, the slow, subtle drip of my nose becomes something treacherous and far more difficult to contain. Within minutes of beginning a winter run, the flood gates open and my nose begins to drip profusely. I’m forced to sniff and wipe throughout my journey, using my sleeves or the back of my gloves as makeshift hankies. If I was more ambitious about my fitness, I’d invest in wrist weights to wear during runs so that my arms could receive a rigorous workout as I raised them to my face over and over again.
I am not unique and I’m certain most runners in colder climates (and even some warmer ones) struggle with their noses and likewise treat their high-priced, tech clothing like Kleenex. It’s possible that the more rugged runners out there, the ones that grow beards and set PRs in their bare feet, choose to ignore their noses and simply allow nature to take its course. While in theory I admire the kind of mental jujitsu it takes to pull that off, I must admit the inevitable result of such a practice – a steady stream of nose refuse making its way to my upper lip – is simply a road I’m not willing to travel. I choose instead the more dignified alternative, which leads to a dryer snout and a snail trail on my right forearm.
When I return from a cold weather outing, there is little comfort to be had. Entering a warm house makes my condition more severe, but there’s some solace in having proper tissues at my disposal. I grab a handful and hold them as I stretch, thus preventing any puddles from forming on the floor beneath me.
This is my lament. It’s a petty one for sure, but it’s the price I pay for vainly attempting to maintain my fitness during the winter. It could be worse, I suppose. I could live in a place where snow and ice are a way of life and snot freezes shortly after it leaves your nostrils. Some of you probably live on those places. And if you do, may God have mercy upon your miserable, frosty souls.