I had an appointment first thing this morning to drop our car off for its annual inspection. Our repair shop is only a mile from home, and since Zak was off today (and all week for the holidays!) I was able to leave him home with the kiddos while I drove the car to the shop. I had a neighbor offer to follow me there and drive me home, but at the last minute I decided to use the opportunity for some early morning exercise and run home instead.
I went the long way home and covered about 3 miles in 30 minutes. The northeast was pounded with snow on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, this is the first major snowfall we’ve had since last winter. I’m only getting out to run about two days a week right now due to babies and late sunrises, but this morning I was reminded of the reasons I love to run in the winter, even when the sidewalks and streets are filled with snow.
* – these reasons aren’t necessarily specific to running – they still apply whether you like to walk, hike, skip, frolick… or whatever your preferred form of locomotion might be.
** – If your winters are warm, sunny, dry and absolutely delightful, then never mind any of this. (And ohbytheway, you suck.)
MY winters often look like this. Even though I started running in 2005, I didn’t start running all year round until 2008. It wasn’t until after my first winter of running had drawn to a close that I saw what was so great about running through the ice and slush and slop of the cold season.
If it’s not the snow on the ground that’s slowing you down then it’s the added gear and layers that add resistance and weight. I think of easy runs as my running foundation. In my book, easy = slow, and I would often forget to sometimes throw purposeful slow runs into the mix.
If you aren’t very good at remembering either or haven’t yet discovered the joy of running slow, winter running can fix this for you. Even if you feel like you’re already a slow runner, that’s OK – use it as an excuse to run even slower. Get out there and run so slow that you need to cup one hand over your brow to avoid making eye contact with anyone you might pass on the street.
But it’s GOOD to run slower than usual sometimes! It helps you build the mileage base if you’re new to the sport. It gets you ready for more mileage if you want to start running further. You’re not completely wiped out for the rest of the day from an intense work out. High intensity work outs are great, but low intensity work outs can have their place in your workout regime too.
With less clothes on, I mean – in the late spring, summer and early fall. (Or at the gym on the treadmill.) The first time you get outside after a long winter of needing to wear two pairs of pants, two tops, a hat, gloves and whatever other gear you use to cover your various body parts, you aren’t going to believe how insanely fast you feel with just a pair of shorts and a t-shirt on when the warm weather returns.
I’ve got no studies to site or random internet articles to link to, so know this is purely conjecture – but I’m positive I’m waking up leg muscles that have been snoozing all summer when I work to maintain my balance on slick surfaces, jump up and over snow banks and/or ankle deep puddles of brown swamp water. Winter running has cross training built right in.
When it’s time to get ready for a snowy run, you look outside and think “Man, this is going to suck.” But then you get out there and do it, and soon you see that you do eventually warm up, it’s not as bad as you were expecting and in fact, it’s actually not that sucky at all!
THEN those feel good endorphins starts seeping into your brain (I feel a noticeable change in my mood at about the 30 – 35 minute mark) and not only are you thinking “this doesn’t suck!” but you are also thinking “Look at me out here! I’m doing it! I am a freaking ROCK STAR! I’m kicking ass and taking names later! All you people inside don’t know what you’re missing out here! As a matter of fact, you SUCK! I do not suck!”
Except no, don’t think that last part. If you come back and tell anyone that’s what you’ve been thinking while you’ve been out there slogging through the snow, they’re just just going to think you’re a running jackass. Then you’ll be sad and feel stupid and totally blow your runner’s high.
Alright, that’s what I’ve got. Are you a fair weather runner or do you try to get outside for some exercise all year round? What’s your favorite part? Do you have a bunch of snow in your back yard right now like we do? Is your car a month overdue for an inspection like mine was? (Shhhh!)