Don't get me wrong, I am not a huge fan of wearing spikes, discovering that the park is full of ankle-deep snow, battling howling winds, and bundling up in a million layers. I do like running in the summer, but I just don't do it more than a couple of times a week. Sometimes only once! Why? Because there's so much else to do! Hike, bike, kayak, swim!
So winter it is, though it seems crazy. The trails are mostly too snowy, though you can sometimes hit the sweet spot when enough people have packed them down with snowshoes. Most trails you can't get to at all anymore, since the roads aren't plowed.You can't run fast. Throw those PRs out the window! The trails are too steep in the best of times. Add in a lot of ice, a few avalanche chutes, and some streams to cross, and you are lucky to do a ten minute mile. But who cares? I just like to run.
Most of the time. I've been running for decades, and sometimes it is a chore to haul myself out there again. Every direction is uphill (really, it is) and there aren't a ton of choices. The Hill of Death route, with the Icy Road of Fear, the Lake Road of Desperate Wind, the Zen of the Rocky Moraine, the Route by Brian's House that Involves a Highway And Possibly Cows Being Moved, the Haunted Ex Roller Skating Mansion Run, and the Park of Many of the Same Short Loops While Trying to Avoid Dogwalkers for the Tenth Time.
Sound appealing? Actually, it can be. There's times when it's about ten degrees and the snow sparkles like little diamonds, catching the low-angled sun. I can check on the lake ice status, to see if skating is a possibility. The other night a fox ran across my path, barking. I check in with the horses by the park. I look for avalanches on Mount Joseph.
|The Route Where You Can See A Single Farmhouse for Miles|
I used to run with people. Julie, Brian and Ken were my marathon training partners, and we battled it out in the horizontal rain and wind for our long runs, stashing Gatorade and snacks along the road prior to our departure (this was before the days of comfy running vests). Ken and I ran dangerously along the fish hatchery road, avoiding fresh bear scat and singing loudly. On the fire crew I ran with other people all the time. I still recall torturing Jim when he asked how much farther we had to go. "Oh, a half mile," I lied, when it was a lot closer. Sorry, Jim!
I kind of miss the social aspect, but I like running by myself now. Especially in winter, when it's a challenge to find somewhere not too icy and not too snowy. I have to be opportunistic about when I run, scheduling it around conference calls and meetings, so I tend to dart out the door when I see a window. I'm sure that people wonder if I work at all, because I am out there at all different times.
Occasionally I have to give up and run on the mill, but this is a last resort. There are only two at my small gym, and they are often occupied by the walker crowd. I feel guilty hogging one, and you can't watch TV (it's mounted above your head and you might crash). I don't listen to music when I run because I didn't start out that way and I don't want to be dependent on it. Besides, the cords. The disappointment of getting a Nora Jones song when you need a good rendition of "Swamp Buggy Bad Ass" (look it up if you want. But I warn you, look up "clean version"). So, no music. You can watch people going in and out of the bank across the street but that is about it. I just am riveted by the display....56 mi. .57 mi. .58...No. No. No. (I recently saw a blog post by a woman who wears red lipstick when she runs at the gym. Um...)
Running isn't my first love anymore, but I still have a friendly relationship with it, so I'll keep putting on winter tights from 1990, wool zip T, jacket, mittens, hat, shoes that have holes in them (must replace), spikes and an optimistic attitude. If I start feeling surly about the whole winter running scene, I'll remember the Winter of Knee Surgery, where I was forbidden to run for three months, and then I started back running for two minutes, walking for five. I'm just glad I can run. Bring it, winter!
Do you run more in the winter? What are your challenges? Give me a lead on good warm running tights!