Run Like the Winded

I have come to believe there are few people who genuinely like running long distance, and there’s a plethora of people who talk about running like it’s second nature only to despise the activity in their private thoughts.

I willingly admit that I fall into that second category. I respectfully despise running.  I, however, fall into a third category of running folk as well; people who run because they don’t know how to “exercise” creativity when it comes to exercising.  I turn to running because I don’t know where else to turn.

Then comes the topic of winter running. Crazy, you might think…and you’re right.  There is nothing logical about running in cold weather. In fact, even a body’s cells argue against it.  So for your enjoyment and my need to process things in writing, I’ve compiled a list of unpleasantries associated with winter running.

·         First of all anything below 15 degrees is too cold, in my opinion, and anything above is fair game. This rule of thumb, unfortunately, has never considered variables like wind chill.  So on a day like today the thermometer may read 20 degrees, but it feels like six.  That makes for a chilly run. Chilly enough to make stopping to walk an unrealistic option. If you stop, you’ll develop a case of hypothermia instantly, along with cholera, anthrax, and leprosy. (I am NOT exaggerating.)

·         Breathing becomes a problem when running in winter weather. (Anyone who has spent time exercising, or living for that matter, understands the importance of being able to breathe.) Let me explain what happens if you try to breathe deeply in the cold.  Your throat already feels like it’s freezing shut, mind you, and your mouth tastes like iron, so when you take a deep breath through your mouth an instant chain reaction of never-ending coughs begins.  If you choose to breathe deeply through your nose, you’ll experience the joy of forming miniature icicles on your nostril hairs.  I affectionately call them nostricles.

·         There’s no point in trying to save face when running in the winter. You can buy the cutest running gear available, but by the time you’re finished layering up you’ll look ridiculous. There’s nothing attractive about an adult wearing a turtleneck with stretchy pants.   If you’re still thinking there’s hope, consider this: if tears aren’t running down your face, snot surely is.

·         The first mile of a winter run is miserably cold.  Cold to the point where turning around and not completing the run seem like the responsible choice. But after about mile one, something strange begins to happen.  While it’s too cold to actually get a good sweat going (that doesn’t happen until after you get back inside), you’ll start to get hot. You’ll want to push up your sleeves or take off your gloves, but you know better. Any skin to air contact leads to those awful diseases I talked about earlier, and no one wants to contract typhus.

·         Running in the winter poses another challenge, which actually presents more like an obstacle, or obstacles.   If you’re not dodging the ice patches you’re certainly climbing the snow banks.  (Apparently the tickets written for refusing to shovel one’s sidewalk isn’t much of a motivator for 50% of the population.) It forces you, the runner, to flair your arms and hands out as if you’re about to start tap dancing.  This may not be a truly effective running stance, but when you hit the inevitable patch of ice, you’ll sure be happy you had those dancin’ hands ready.

·         After you’ve completed your run, your body goes through several stages of shock. As soon as you hit the warm air again you’ll start sweating profusely, to the point where you’ll need to strip down all your layers.  You’ll also go through a brief period of nausea, and I mean brief.  Sometimes it only lasts a matter of seconds.  I equate the sensation to jumping from a regular pool to a hot tub several times in a row. Soon enough you’ll begin experiencing the post-run chills.  Then for the next hour or two your lungs will feel tingly and itchy all at the same time. Truly remarkable.
As you can see there are added complications when running in the winter. There are times when I picture myself in a scene from The Edge or Alive just to motivate myself to move.    (There’s no better motivator than being chased by a grizzly bear or avoiding cannibalism.)

Though the winter has been mild so far, harsh weather is impending for sure, so I thought I’d share my sentiments with you, my eight patient readers.  

Happy New Years!  Blessings all around.