A Little Love…for Winter Running
|February 14, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Running|
I feel like the general tone of many of my running posts lately has been rather negative. I’ve been talking about failure, struggling with training, hating on winter, etc etc etc. At this point, you might be starting to wonder where my joy for running has gone…and why I even stick with this crazy sport.
I try to keep this place as real as possible. I never sugarcoat my life or my training, because, well…what’s the point of that? And since I don’t write every day, it’s less interesting for me to put up a post about how I had another great easy run than to actually reflect on things that I’m experiencing or struggling with in terms of training. And the truth is, at the beginning of training there are often more struggles than anything else.
But I also understand that if that’s the only glimpse into my life you have, you may start to wonder where the passion has gone. While I admit that I haven’t yet reached that “turnaround” point where things start to come naturally, I still look forward to lacing up my shoes most of the time. And I honestly can’t even imagine how I’d get through the winter if I didn’t have running to keep me sane.
So with that being said, I figured it was time to show a little love for winter running. Because even though it’s cold and the days are short (but slowly getting longer!) and even though motivation can often be hard to come by, running during the winter isn’t all bad. In fact, if I’m honest with myself, there are actually a lot of advantages to running during this cold season.
No pressure to beat the heat. If you don’t want to drown in sweat during a run in the middle of summer, there’s usually a very short window in which you can run. Miss that window and you’re basically resigning yourself to running through hell. Which also means…
No need for early morning wake ups on long run days. Sure, I suppose sometimes this is still necessary if you have a lot going on. But in general I find winter weekend mornings so much more relaxing. I can sleep in and take my time getting out the door. Especially since the procrastination usually works to my advantage — pushing back your run by just a few hours can make all the difference in terms of temperature.
Afternoon runs are the way to go. I’ve made my general dislike for morning runs pretty clear…several times. I run in the morning out of necessity — to avoid the heat, if I can’t run any other time of day, etc. I understand why so many of you love running in the morning and it all makes perfect sense to me…in theory, anyway. But despite my best intentions, I think I’ll always be an afternoon/evening runner at heart. And the winter is one time when running in the afternoon is unequivocally better. Sure, that run may hang over your head all day, but that’s a small price to pay for running in warmer weather, especially now that the sun sets a little later. Case in point: this morning the temperature in my town was 20 degrees. It’s expected to be 40 and sunny later this afternoon. Three guesses as to which conditions I prefer.
Running clothes have more pockets, which means more places to stash stuff. Yes, I prefer running in shorts over tights any day of the week (though when I do resign myself to wearing tights, chances are I’m in these. Most comfortable pair I own, plus I love the zipper at the ankles). And yes, running is the one aspect of my life where I prefer to wear as little clothing as possible. But sometimes that means storage is a bit of an issue. When you’re wearing a sports bra-type top and little bitty shorts, there aren’t many places to stash your gear/gels/etc. Long sleeve running shirts and coats generally have more pockets available, which makes carrying things on the run much easier.
I also appreciate bright colors on dreary days – I wear this jacket on the majority of my runs these days
Less need for hydration. During the heat of the summer, I usually carry water on runs that are an hour or more (there are no public fountains near me). On really hot days, I will take hydration with me on short runs too. But in the winter I can go a lot longer without needing water. Plus, if I get thirsty on a run, I can always reach over and just grab a handful of snow! Okay…kidding on that one. But my point is, I can easily make it into the double digits without hydration, and often go up to 2 hours without it. Obviously this is personal preference and not necessarily something a professional would recommend, but I hate carrying water and appreciate that I can go further without it when the temperatures are lower.
Less sweat. Which means that’s it’s much more acceptable to re-wear running clothes before washing. Or, you know, easier to get away with not showering after a run.
No humidity. Humidity ruins more runs than heat alone. I hate that feeling of swimming through a run, of being weighed down by the heaviness of the air. It slows me down and often makes me question my fitness. All summer long, I yearn for that first crisp fall day when the humidity breaks and I suddenly feel like I have wings on my feet. I love that I never have that problem during the winter. Sure, sometimes my legs go numb in the cold which obviously doesn’t make for a speedy run. But in general, less humidity means faster running. And that’s something I can get on board with!
Post-run showers are the best thing in the world. Especially on long run days. Is there anything better than the heat of a shower after being outside in the cold for over an hour? I admit to often using that as motivation to get myself moving (whatever works, right?). Related: running in the cold also makes my old house feel warmer. We keep our heat fairly low in an (often futile) effort to keep the heating bill from getting out of control. The only time the house feels truly toasty is when I first come in after a run. It’s a luxurious feeling.
So winter – I will accept that you are good for my running. And that sometimes I even enjoy you. Plus, each time that I brave your cold, I am stronger for it. But…that still doesn’t mean I’m not excited for spring.