A few short years ago when I began running, I was not fond of winter at all. I found January and February to be very dreary, and anxiously awaited spring. My friend Jackie and I had really gotten into running in the summer of 2009, and I had told her that I would NOT be running in the winter. I would retreat to the treadmill and emerge when the daffodils began to pop through the thawing ground. Why would I want to freeze my butt off outside?
As the temperature gradually began to go down, we just kept running. And I kind of liked it. I learned how to dress appropriately; I even started wearing running tights, which, by the way, are quite warm and comfy. As winter settled in, we also settled in to our running routine. Running in brutal temps and less-than-ideal conditions made us feel like true athletes. We felt like beasts in the running world. Granted, we are just a couple of middle-aged friends who happen to enjoy running, but on those particular runs, we were elite athletes training for our next race, and a little snow and potential frost bite would not keep us indoors!
We have just begun to see signs of true winter recently. Of course, only in Southern Indiana can we run in shorts on Tuesday and leggings and multiple layers Wednesday. And that’s no exageration – Gary, my sister, and I went for a quick run before heading to the gym Tuesday evening, and Gary and I had on shorts (and I was hot), and by Wednesday night when Jackie, Kassi, and I ventured out, it was blustery and freezing. I attempted to get out of that run because it was also sprinkling, but we decided (actually, Jackie decided) that we would run. The first four miles were chilly, but once our bodies adapted, it felt great. The last mile we turned and headed west toward the river. And the wind was wicked! We had to work extremely hard to push against the wind’s mighty resistance. In our elite-athlete minds, that was good for counting an extra mile in our run!
Last night my sister and I went to Jasper (about an hour away) to watch my daughter swim. It had begun to snow on the way there, and I wondered what we would find when we left the meet. We stayed less than an hour because Addison swam early, and when we walked out, it was into blowing wind and icy temps. We ran to the car, and as we were running, I told my sister that I would love to be out running. She thought I was weird. I told her that the snow falling made it so peaceful, and that when I finish a run like that, I feel like I can do anything. She was not convinced. At all. And this from a woman who lived many years in Minnesota.
(What I don’t like to do in the snow is drive, and the conditions driving home from that swim meet were terrible. I white-knuckled it all the way home. We made it in about an hour and 15 minutes, which wasn’t bad. The team? It took the bus 2 hours and 40 minutes. There was a whole lot of anxious parents. Kudos to the bus driver, John. What an incredible responsibility he had.)
My hope is if the snow hangs around a couple of days, I will get to run in the white stuff. There isn’t much, but it will still offer a serene and challenging course. Today – on our snow day – I have to go have some gross growth on my leg removed. I hope that I will be able to get a run in since this nasty little growth happens to be right by the bend of my knee. Let me digress for a moment…a friend, who happens to be a nurse, was at the gym the other night. She gave me some rather strange advice. She said to sleep with bacon – yes, bacon – wrapped on my leg. I should put the fatty part over said growth. Of course, I was apprehensive, but she said it would me the little procedure less painful because it would draw the nastiness to the surface. Bacon it was. So, the past two nights, I slept with bacon attached to my leg. And I am admitting that on a public forum. Sorry if you are grossed out.
If you run at all, particularly if you are new to the sport, don’t let winter drive you to the treadmill. Get out and experience winter as a runner. Put on some tights (they are much warmer than sweatpants because wind can’t go up them), layer up your shirts, get some cheap gloves with which to wipe snot, and a hat or earband. Venture out and enjoy your beastliness! When mortals drive by, they will envy your toughness (or just think you’re nuts). You will be that elite runner, and probably start receiving requests to appear on the cover of fitness magazines. Or maybe just the local newspaper. Or maybe your friend can post your elite-athlete photo on Facebook. Either way, you will have done what few would even attempt.