Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter: A Runner's Best Friend

So I usually slow down a bit with running during the winter.  I'm a pansy when it comes to being cold and my schedule is always pretty crazy during the school year.  So I use those two things as excuses.
But this winter, I wanted to stay in the action.  I didn't want to deteriorate and have to start over again come spring.  So I got a treadmill.  But I can literally only do about 2 or 3 miles on a treadmill before I want to rip my hair out. It's just so boring.  So I consigned myself to run outside.
Lucky for me, this winter was pretty mild for a while.  Winter running was more like late fall running, which is glorious.
And then it got cold.  Real cold.  And then, miracle of miracles, it snowed.  So do I still run outside?  Do I just spend all of winter inside, hating my treadmill?

Nope.  Despite my aversion to cold temperatures, I went running in the snow.
It was SO fun!

I'm not sure what was fun about it, but I really enjoyed it.  Perhaps being witness to the purifying blanket of snow made it cool.  Perhaps running outside when no one else was made me feel extra bad-A.  Perhaps the cold actually made me feel comfortable the entire run instead of sweating buckets like I do in summer.  Perhaps because there is something ethereal about running along as snow slowly drifts down from the heavens.

Whatever it was, it was fun.  I highly recommend it.

A few things that I've learned about winter running:
-  You can not/will not/should not go as fast as you would during warmer weather.  It is snow after all and snow is ice, so going slower to reduce the risk of injury is a must.  Plus, if the snow is fresh, it's like running through sand; wet, cold, slippery sand.  That'll slow you down for sure.  I was told once that winter running is a time to maintain.  Not being able to break any time records while running in the snow, I get to concentrate on perfecting form and maintaining muscle tone.
-  You make drivers more nervous than just an icy road would.  Even though I run as far to the side as I can on the roads, your presence will make a driver more nervous.  Help them out by being more aware of your surroundings.
-  It's harder to breathe in the really cold air. Keep that in mind when you're setting a pace.
-  If you are skiddish around dogs, winter is the time to go running.  Most owners keep their dogs indoors during the winter, or dogs are less likely to go running after you because they'd rather stay warm lying where they are.  I usually see and meet quite a few dogs on my routes, but I hardly saw any since I start winter running.  
-  It takes me about a mile to stop feeling the cold.  You get warm pretty fast, so no need to pack on the snow gear to go for a run. 
-  Despite that it's ice and snow, I don't slip much at all.  But I'm fully aware that I could biff it at any time.

So, if you've been huddled inside lately cursing the snow for ruining your running schedule, get some long winter running pants and go enjoy yourself.
I promise, you'll have a good run.