An Ode to Running Through Winter

The annual arrival of spring has become such a tease- there’s the annual groundhog pronouncements, the March 1 meteorological start of the season, as well as the astronomical beginning on March 20.  If only winter had a clearly defined “off” switch we could look forward to.

Though I’ve run through several winters now, this year marks the first time I’ve focused my training toward completing a spring marathon.  On more than a few occasions that decision has led me to question my sanity!  February didn’t just seem miserable, it was miserable.  The city’s coldest February in eight decades, to be exact.

While the winter of 2015 wasn’t what I had in mind when I decided to take on a spring 26.2 endeavor, it was a nice reminder that any marathon training cycle presents its own unique climatic challenges.  But having survived the arctic freezes, there are several lessons I’ll be taking away from this season’s training:

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 8.10.41 PMTrain in the Buff 

This year’s temperatures were the coldest I had run in, making breathing in the frigid air actually quite painful.  I had no idea a small piece of cloth could make such a difference when training in sub-freezing temperatures, but it most definitely did.  This magical piece of fabric is by far the best piece of running gear I’ve ever invested in, and will remain a staple of my “rundrobe” for years to come.

Nothing Runs Faster than a Nose

Remarkably, I survived the winter without catching a seasonal cold- but that doesn’t mean it was mucus-free.  I can only surmise that because my nose would run so much out on the roads, any winter cold would have been snot deprived.  As I’d sniff, wipe, sniff and wipe some more, I was reminded of the old John Deere ads I’d see on television growing up that proclaimed, “Nothing runs like a Deere.”  Well, those John Deere’s had nothing on my nose while running through winter.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 8.11.20 PMFalling Snow > Bling

For all the challenges winter weather can present, there are a few perks.  On some days, defying the temperatures could reap some pretty great retinal rewards.  I’ll fondly remember those truly picturesque occasions that make you feel as though you’re running inside a snow globe.  As much as one might enjoy a sparkling medal upon the completion of a major event, nothing can equal the joy of finishing a long training run amidst some fresh, falling snow flakes.  I was lucky enough to have timed a handful of long runs just right so that my last couple of miles were graced with some big fluffy flakes falling from the sky.  On just the right day, with just the right size flakes and just the right milage under one’s best, the beauty was unmatched.

Watering eyes, layered hearts, can’t freeze

In running, the most satisfying achievements often come not from any given finish, but from the journey.  In winter, that means lacing up, clipping on the neon LED light and taking layering inspiration from the mother in “A Christmas Story,” before heading out alone on the mostly barren roads.  Though at times I questioned whether my watering eyes were a sign I’d crossed over to the delusional side, I will likely look back on this winter and realize that those watering eyes helped make this training journey the most satisfying.

Every mile is two in winter.  At least. 

When the English poet George Herbert wrote, “Every mile is two in winter,” his words may not have been intended for literal interpretation, but they easily could’ve been.  As spring approaches, I’m genuinely excited to shed some layers as I more fully harvest the fitness fruits of winter training.  After all, if the satisfaction of the journey is any indication, the coming months should be quite fulfilling.

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One thought on “An Ode to Running Through Winter

  1. What a winter to run outside. NYC got some unbelievable weather this year! But if you can handle that and figure out what to wear to make it through, you are ready for anything. I also can’t believe my runny nose in the winter when I run. I hate running with others because it is embarrassing….and gross!

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