Posts Tagged by running reflections

Getting Out the Door is the Easy Part

“The first step is the hardest.”

“The hardest part is getting out the door.”

It’s confession time on this freezing Friday morning: I secretly hate those sayings. Well, I suppose it’s not a secret anymore. But in my opinion that silly idiom is right up there with “you never regret a run/workout!” (umm…I can assure you that I have).

Now before you write me off as a big old grump, let me just say that I understand the meaning behind the phrase. I know it can be really hard to work up the motivation to start when you’re out of shape, or leave the warmth of your house for that long run/tempo workout/hill repeats when you’d much rather stay in bed. But not only does that phrase sort of devalue the hard work many runners put into their training, it’s simply not true. When you’re getting back into shape, especially after a long time off, getting out the door is the easy part. Sticking with it — after the high of that first run wears off and you’re stuck with the realization of how much work you have ahead of you — that’s the hard part. That’s the part that makes it easy to just say screw it. I’d rather just stick to my couch.

Since being cleared for exercise last Friday evening, I’ve run three times (as excited as I am to be running again, I’m really easing back into it in order to avoid injury). And each run has gotten progressively harder.

This is going to sound totally contrived, but I swear to you — my first run back was magical. Last Saturday, after 10 weeks of absolutely no running (my longest break in recent memory), I bundled up against the cold and sprinted out the door. And while the video Evan took (without my knowledge) of me starting out shows an out-of-shape woman tentatively making her way down the street at a pace that barely resembled running, in my head I was flying. Light as a feather. All those things that I had worried about for so long — that my incision would hurt, that my insides would feel like they were falling out, that my legs would’ve somehow forgotten what to do — turned out to be unfounded. Everything fell into place and I was unstoppable.

Until I hit the mile mark, anyway. And my lungs suddenly realized that they weren’t participating in the most fun activity ever. But you know, still…I was running. Pandora was killing it with the music that morning and I was in a cloud of all the emotions – excitement that my legs still worked, joy in being able to move quickly again, and some unexpected sadness about this being my first run without Amelia in almost a year. I had imagined that run so many times in my head. Despite the cold, my heaving lungs, and the fact that a 9:00 pace practically felt like sprinting, the run was everything I thought it would be. I finished on top of the world.

First post-baby runIf you don’t take a picture of your Garmin after your run, did it really happen?

I spent the next day skiing and it was the same — a little weirdness in getting used to my new body but so much happiness to just be out there. I was back, baby!!

IMG 5358

And then I tried running again. And it turns out I’m actually going to have to work hard to get back into shape. Who would’ve thought?

My legs have surprisingly been okay. My stride is different and I know it will take awhile for everything to function seamlessly again, but all that extra load bearing during pregnancy seems to have served them well. My lungs, on the other hand, are struggling. A lack of aerobic activity + cold air isn’t exactly the best combination. I spent my last 2 runs battling major side stitches. Yesterday I had cramps on both sides the second I started running. I almost bailed on my 3 mile run they were so bad. Let me tell you — nothing makes you feel quite so out of shape as major cramps on what should be a short, easy run. As I slipped around on the snow that afternoon, I thought about how easy it would be to just give up. And how humbling this challenge to keep moving forward will be, knowing that running doesn’t feel the way it used to…and won’t for awhile.

IMG 2417

The only thing that keeps me going at this point is knowing what it’s like on the other side. I’ve been out of shape before. Maybe not this badly, but I have experience working my way back from scratch. I know it’s going to suck for awhile. That it might take months of slogging through easy runs that feel difficult. But one day, suddenly, everything is bound to click. My stride will feel natural, my lungs will get on board, and running will be fun again.

Right now, it’s just work. Harder than it should be, different than I remembered. I have a new understanding and appreciation for why many people don’t stick with running for very long. Why new runners look at you like you’re crazy when you talk about how fun running can be. Or describe the joy of an “effortless” 10 mile run. It doesn’t seem possible. Even now, having experienced all those things, I have a hard time imagining ever feeling that way on a run again.

But I just need to be patient. And you know…I suppose it’s only fair to say that my life as a runner has made me a little crazy. Because even as I struggle through my runs now, I finish each one filled with hope. And the more I think about running, the more excited I become to get out the door and try again. Yeah, my hopes are dashed a little bit when I actually start moving and realize just how hard it’s going to be, but it’s not enough to erase the delusion completely. The delusion that I’m going to go out there and suddenly feel the way I used to is what keeps me going

Anyway, I probably could’ve summed up this rambling post in three sentences: I’m running again (yay!). It kind of sucks because I’m really out of shape (boo). But I expected that, so for now I just have to keep dragging myself out the door day after day, hoping that it’ll eventually get better.

And if it doesn’t, well, at least I’m able to run. For now that fact alone is enough.

Okay so that was five sentences. Can I just keep blaming the sleep deprivation for everything?

Why I’m Still Running

I ran 2 miles today.

More accurately — I waddled around the neighborhood for 21-ish minutes (in shorts of course, because pregnancy is not reason enough to give up the Great Running Tight Boycott - 3 years strong!), and then called it a day. 20 minutes of physical activity feels harder, and more satisfying, than it used to.

At 35 weeks pregnant and looking like I’m ready to pop at any minute, running isn’t really the most natural thing.

35 weeks apptCandid from this week’s appointment…this body looks more natural reclining on the couch than running through the neighborhood

My feet scuffle along the ground, my body rocks from side to side, and I feel anything but graceful. As I rounded the last corner on my run, I tried to pick up the pace for a final “sprint” to the end. Instead I just laughed as my head leaned forward, my shoulders strained ahead…and my belly and legs stayed firmly put. I couldn’t run any faster if my life depended on it.

This slow, steady movement is so different from my typical associations with running — feeling fast and free, light and strong. In the past, a successful run meant hitting my stride and dropping paces that felt effortless, coming home exhausted but exhilarated. Now I consider it a victory if I can simply keep myself moving for a full 2 miles. In some ways, running is harder than ever. My heart rate soars with just the slightest increase in effort, I have a human pushing against my diaphragm making breathing difficult, and my stride is just clunky. Not to mention all the extra weight (concentrated primarily in one place) that I’m toting around.

But in other ways, it’s easier. There’s no training plan to follow. No mileage or pace goals to hit. I don’t feel bad about skipping workouts or frustrated when an easy pace feels hard. I know that when I head out, my pace is going to resemble a slow jog, no more, no less. My belly is large enough that I no longer experience any round ligament pain. And I’m not out there long enough for my pelvis to start complaining. It’s just movement in one of its simplest forms.

I’m sure there are many more efficient workouts I could be doing. Cross training for longer periods of time would provide more benefit without all the pounding on my already strained lower body. It would help me strengthen muscle groups that get neglected during training cycle after training cycle. And would still provide all the mental and physical benefits of regular exercise, without all the emotion and baggage that running can sometimes bring.

But yet, despite all that, I prefer to run. It may be hard to understand why. I haven’t been able to run very far in a long time, running less in a week than I used to be able to cover in a day. Running hasn’t helped slow my pregnancy weight gain. At 35 weeks and up 28 pounds, I’m at the high end of the normal curve.

pregnancy weight gain curveThe green dot is me…brushing the top of the “normal” curve

And it hasn’t helped me grow a smaller baby either — a recent (unplanned) scan revealed that Cheese Baby is already quite chunky, measuring almost 2 full weeks ahead(!!) with an estimated due date of 12/10.**

Instead, it’s caused ups and downs as I’ve adjusted to my new limitations and wondered if/when I should give it up for good…or at least until next year. So having said all that, it may be hard to understand why I do it.

The author of the WSJ article would say I’m still running so that everyone will look at me and see how hardcore I am. That I do it for the accolades. For all the attention I’m sure to get for running even as I approach the end of my pregnancy. For the Instagram pictures and the #pregnantrunner hashtag (sidenote: why is #motherrunner a thing but #pregnantrunner is not? Not that I’d use either…) But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I run because there’s something inside me…something in the way I’m built…that drives me to keep moving forward. I can’t explain it, but I know that other runners feel it. The drive to get up early to fit in a training run, to finish that last repeat despite the fact that your legs are toast, to push that extra mile when you feel like you have nothing left to give, to run through cold, wind, rain, heat…and to keep running mile after mile, year after year with relatively nothing to show for it. That drive is what motivates a runner. Not the medals. Not the t-shirts. Not the fancy clothes or flashy shoes (although they help).

And even though I’m not running faster or stronger today than I was yesterday, even though my “training” seems to be moving backward, that drive is why I still continue to run. Why I get all laced up and hit the pavement for a measly 2 miles. Because running is part of my identity. Running has been with me through every single phase of my life. And somehow, no matter how slow I go, running makes me feel like myself. It’s something that I’ve been able to share with my daughter. This little person that I’ve never even met has already run hundreds of miles with me. Has already been rocked to sleep by the motion of my own two feet. I can’t think of many things I find more amazing than that.

Throughout this whole journey, I’ve always maintained that I’d hang up my running shoes the second it no longer seemed safe — for me or the baby. I’ve cut back on my mileage, let go of running goals, and learned to approach this whole process one day at a time. As much as I love identifying as a runner, I wouldn’t be destroyed if today was my last run. I don’t feel the need to hit a certain mileage goal or push my body on days when I think I need more rest. And if I had to give it all up and face 9 – 11 weeks without any running whatsoever, I could do it.

But for now, I’m thankful. Thankful that I have a way to clear my head when the pregnancy brain or the stress of it all takes over. Thankful that I’m still moving, breathing in fresh air, and sharing this time with my daughter. And thankful that I have some other way to measure the passage of weeks, besides the countdown to her eventual birth.

**I actually believe my original due date (12/21) was miscalculated, due to how irregular my cycles were when we got pregnant. But as far as I know, my OB is not actually changing it. So at this point, we’re just hoping for an early arrival (or a huge measurement error!).

 

This is Your Brain on 20 Miles

Yesterday I ran my first 20-miler of this training cycle. No matter how many times I’ve covered the distance, 20 miles always feels really far. Seriously – what is it about the 20 mile distance that makes it feel so much longer than a run of say, 18 miles? I ran 18 a few weeks ago and felt great. Ran 20 yesterday and was wiped out for the rest of the day. Exhausted, sick (well that may have been more to do with my choice of fuel than anything else…more on that in a minute), and unmotivated to do much else but lie on the couch. Funny how 2 measly little miles can make a world of difference.

Anyway…anyone who has ever run 20 miles knows that you don’t just go out and do it. Well, most of us non-elite recreational runners don’t. There’s the build up, the preparation, and then (typically) the roller coaster of emotions to keep you company for the 3ish hours of running. Running 20 miles is a process, a journey.

So, for your enjoyment here’s a glimpse inside the mind of someone who approaches these super long runs with a bit of trepidation.

Reader Warning: Proceed with caution. The following litany of crazy is real. Yes, all these things were really going through my mind yesterday. And yes, I talk to myself during runs. Doesn’t everyone?

Scene: Sunday morning. 7 am. Up, making coffee and toast, obsessively checking the weather.

Why is it only 26 degrees out there? What happened to the beautiful spring weather we had at the end of the week?

Ugh that wind sounds awful. And it’s raining. I think I have a stomachache. Oh no…I’m feeling sick. How am I going to get through 3 hours of running feeling like this? My legs are too tired. And it’s cold. And windy. Maybe I should wait until Monday…

IMG 1024My slight mental exaggeration of the conditions outside as I procrastinated the start of my 20 mile run

3 hours later… (10:00ish am). FINALLY ready to go. Head out in a direction I rarely run to mix it up a little bit.

Yikes! It’s colder out here than I thought. Cold rain, cold wind…maybe shorts wasn’t the best option?

Okay, calm down and shut up. Just run one mile at a time. You can loop back by the house to change in a few miles if you have to.

Woohooo! Never mind. This whole “start downhill” thing is awesome. I’m flying! I love running! Why don’t I run this way more often??

One minute later, a truck comes careening around the corner forcing me to jump into a ditch. Oh yeah, that’s why….

Mile 1: 7:48

Oops. So much for the whole start slow strategy. But this just feels sooo good!

Miles 2 – 4 all clock in under 8:00/mile.

Oh! I’m already at the bridge (my planned turnaround point)! Those 4 miles flew by! I love running so much! Okay – let’s keep going. Just run to the center of the next town and then you can turn around.

Miles 5 – 7. Still holding a sub-8 pace without much effort.

Yikes that wind is really bad. At least I’ll have a tailwind coming back, right? Maybe all the wind will blow some of these clouds away. It’ll be nice to see the sun…

Oh a hill! Where did that come from? Wow…look at this view. I don’t care about the traffic, this run is amazing!  I should’ve just planned to run out this way the whole time. Is it too late to call Evan and ask him to pick me up 20 miles from home? I don’t think I want to turn around.

550I’M SO HAPPY!! RUNNING IS MY FAVORITE!

(Source - side note: you should probably click that link. Gold mine of happy cat and dog pictures)

Get to the center of town, resign myself to heading back in the other direction. Pace immediately drops.

Ummm…did I really run down all these hills? No wonder I was feeling so good on the way out. I swear the road was flat just a few minutes ago…

WTH is up with this wind?! Why isn’t it at my back? I guess I should take some sort of fuel, maybe that’ll help me feel better.

Pull out the Margarita flavored Clif Shot Bloks that I stuffed in my pack that morning after a frantic search for Gu came up short (note to self: be better prepared next time!).

Margarita shot blocks

Nastiness in chewable form

Ugh. These things are the worst! How do people chew and run at the same time?! My teeth. Everything is stuck together. OMG I might gag. This flavor. Why did I think I’d like the taste of margaritas while running?!?!  Oh this is so so gross. Okay, fine, I’ll choke down one more and then these things are going away. (I am clearly not overdramatic or anything…)

Seriously, why do these things exist? They need to invent some sort of fuel that just dissolves on your tongue. Like a breath strip! Oh I’m totally going to invent that! I’m going to be the hero of runners everywhere. And will surely make millions. Enough with this chewing while running crap. It takes too much energy.

Hmmm…I guess that’s sort of why they invented Gatorade. No chewing, gives you calories and electrolytes. But Gatorade is nasty. Who wants to run with that crap? Nope, I’m getting to work on this Fuel Strip idea as soon as I get home!

Oh I love this song! Florida Georgia Line + Nelly should be so wrong, but it’s ohso right.

Finally back at the bridge. 10 miles in 1:18…I’ve slowed down, but still keeping a decent pace, all things considered.

Oh my gosh, the sun! I can’t believe it. Rain jacket off, arm warmers pushed down. This is the best and most wonderful day for running. Look at that river. And those mountains! Oh I just love Vermont.

DSC 0029Not really my view from Saturday. But a perfect representation of why I #lovermont

2 miles later…

I’m hungry. Shouldn’t I be back at the house by now? Maybe I should choke down another one of those awful Shot Bloks. Ugh. Or maybe I should just practice without the extra fuel. You know, to run with depleted glycogen stores or something…

NO. That’s stupid. I’m hungry and I’m tired and this wind is pissing me off. Why hasn’t it been at my back this whole time? Am I going crazy??

IMG 1084It was around this time that I started fantasizing about having lunch at my favorite local cafe

Choke down another Shot Blok.

Ugh. I never want to eat these things again. Barf.

Oh but what should I have for lunch when I get back? Crap, I’m hungry. I guess that’s what I get for starting the run around 10:00. How many miles do I have left to run?? {mild panic attack} Ahhh don’t think about that. Just make it back to the house. Focus on one section of this run at a time.

Finally! Back in town! Why did the way back feel soooo much longer than the way out? Oh but I love this view coming into town. It’s so beautiful here. I’m really going to miss it.

{Cue dramatic, emotional mental montage of all the good times we’ve had in this town. Complete with sappy music, of course.}

Hello house! Why did I think running by home during a 20 mile run was a good idea again?!

Throw windbreaker (should also throw arm warmers that have been pushed down to my wrists but feeling way too lazy to get them off).

Miles 15 – 17. Down a familiar stretch for the final miles.

WTH is up with this wind?! It’s getting worse! How have I only run 14 miles at this point? I feel like I’ve been running forever. All that stupid uphill. Now I remember why I don’t run that way…

Okay – focus. Just 3 miles. Past the farm that you wish you could buy and around the corner. You’ve done this run 1 million times. You can do it again. Don’t think about how far. Just think about getting through this next mile. And then you only have 2 more…until you turn around.

AHSLKDFHDSLKHF this wind! Doesn’t it ever stop gusting?? Why did I decide to run in this direction? Am I even moving forward? I want to cry. Or punch someone. I’m gonna punch Wind in its stupid face. Or maybe I’ll just lie down here on the side of the road. That would be nice… I wonder how long it would take for someone to find me.

I’m still hungry. Those stupid nasty Shot Bloks did nothing. I wonder if Evan is waiting for me to eat lunch. Just a few more miles until I can eat all the food! Gah I can’t wait to eat! And foam roll. My feet sure are hurting. So much pounding.

Finally – the turnaround point!! I see it. Maybe I could just turn around a little early. I mean, does 0.2 miles REALLY make that much of a difference?

I swear if I turn around and don’t feel the wind at my back I’m going to scream. I seriously want to murder somebody right now.

hurricane against the windThis is basically what I felt like. Obviously not an exaggeration at all.

Miles 18 – 20. Tailwind. FINALLY!

This is amazing!!! Downhill. Wind at my back. Oh! Macklemore. Can’t [nobody] Hold ME! Put this on repeat. It’s bringing me home.

Oh – look at that cyclist heading toward me. He’s clearly struggling against this wind. At least I know it wasn’t all in my head. This wind is no joke! Sucks to be you right now, buddy.

Look at that pace! You’re flying! Oh I love this tailwind. And this sun! And Vermont! Let’s see how fast you can finish this thing.

Okay – push up the final hill. Don’t let the pace drop now. You’re almost there. Just hang on….

7:11 final mile baby!! BOOFREAKINGYA! I love running!

And then I proceeded to sit on the back deck for a very very long time, until my hunger finally motivated me to get up and shower.

Long run conquered.

Unfortunately my post-run high was short-lived. I spent the rest of the day battling some major, not blog-worthy digestion issues. I’m blaming the margarita shot blocks (consider yourself warned!!). I’ll stick to Gu from here on out, thanks. Or, you know, the yet-to-be-invented Fuel Strip. It’s the wave of the future, I’m telling you.

Fuel strips promo

Getting My Head Straight

Lately I’ve been doing most of my long runs on the same out and back section of road. Every weekend it’s the same. Head out along the road that I’ve come to know like the back of my hand, get to the turning point, and then head back the way I came.

IMG 0885Not the road…and clearly not a recent photo

I’ll be honest with you – it can get pretty monotonous. I know every stretch, every turn, exactly how far I have to go before I can head back toward home. The scenery is always the same and the hills are never changing. Sometimes the way out seems to drag on forever and I spend the entire run counting down the minutes until I can finally turn around.

I really make it sound so appealing, don’t I? I know what you’re all thinking — if I find it so monotonous, why the heck do I keep submitting myself to this form of torture?

Because the truth is that running along the same road week after week provides consistency. And for most of this training cycle, that consistency has been the only thing that gave me the confidence I needed to make it through long runs.

I don’t really know why, but confidence is something that I have really struggled with this time around. Whereas in the past, I sometimes failed to give certain runs the respect they deserved ["Oh, it's 'only' 15 miles. I don't need to worry about silly things like getting enough sleep, fueling, carrying water, or really think about the fact that I have to run for 2 hours without stopping!"], I now find myself with the complete opposite problem. Every single long run just seems so intimidating. I sit there in the morning stressing about the distance. Psyching myself out before I even take one step.

This all culminated before my recent 18-miler. I was so freaked out about the run that I kept putting it off…and almost backed out of doing it altogether. This was not your typical pre-long run anxiety — you know that mix of excitement and nerves that comes from not quite knowing how your body is going to feel that day. A feeling that boosts your adrenaline and can actually help propel you through the long run, because ultimately you’re just excited about the challenge and can’t wait to see how it’ll go.

I’m embarrassed to admit that this fear was quite literally crippling. That one run seemed like such an insurmountable challenge that I was ready to give up on VCM right then and there. Forget spring marathons…forget marathon training at all. I would focus on shorter races. Or maybe I would just retire from racing. Clearly I’m not cut out for it.

Believe me, I realize how silly and over-dramatic this all sounds. Typing it out now only makes it seem more ridiculous. But in the moment, I just couldn’t get out of my own head. I somehow forgot about one very important detail: this whole running thing is not my career. It’s not even a side job. It’s merely a hobby that I enjoy…and one at which I sometimes pretend to be mildly talented.

So after a few days (no, seriously…days) of freaking out about this run — a run that no one was forcing me to do or even cared if I completed — I finally was able to talk myself down from the ledge. By telling myself of two things:

1.) All you need to do is run ONE MILE at a time. That’s it. Get out the door. Put one foot in front of the other and run. If you only make it 5 or 10 or 15 miles, who cares. Just run one mile. And when you complete that one, run another. You don’t know how you’re going to do until you try.

2.) You finished a run along this same road last week. You did it before and you can do it again. All you have to do is run one more mile out…and then you can turn around. What’s one mile? Nothing.

These two tiny assurances completely turned the run around for me. As I mentioned in my last post, that 18 miles ended up being the best run I’ve had in a long time. And by far the best long run of this current training cycle. It’s amazing what happens when you stop being a crazy mental-case runner and start cutting yourself a little slack. Who would’ve thought…

I can’t say that the self-doubt has completely gone away. It’s still work to get my head straight — to keep my confidence up. But now, when I feel myself getting nervous about a run or a workout, I try to take a step back and remind myself that it’s just running. All I can do is go out and give it my best shot. And instead of focusing on what I can’t do or paces that I’m not hitting, I repeat two simple lines over and over again to get me through a particularly difficult or intimidating stretch.

i am strong i am able running mantra

I AM STRONG.

I AM ABLE.

Six words of reassurance. Six words that silence the doubt. Six words that are helping me keep my head straight…most of the time, anyway.

A Little Love…for Winter 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.

IMG 0201

Things like…

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.

IMG 2364

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.

Saucony women nmd jacket vizipropinkI 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.

 

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