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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winter...When I Am Free to Just Run


 
I ran with my Teammates yesterday...bright and early...in the freezing cold.  It was about 19 degrees out and the windchill made it bitter.  Yet, it surprisingly felt good.

I actually enjoy running in the winter.  Not the whole getting-up-out-of-my-warm-bed-to-freeze-my-feet-on-the-floor part.  Definitely NOT that.  But what I do enjoy about wintertime running is that my body doesn't get overheated like it does in the summertime.  True, it can be difficult to know how many layers to wear.  And it can feel wicked, standing in the cold as I wait for my Teammates for those very few minutes before we embark on our run.  Sometimes, even the first few miles are utterly Dreadful.  But once I get in that sweet spot, the place where heaven and hell collide, it's really not all that bad.  It feels refreshing, really.

Right after a light snowfall, before anyone else has trampled through the snow is one of my favorite times to run in the winter.  I like leaving my footprints behind, telling the world, yes, someone has been here...running...in the cold...and the snow.  It is a source of pride for me, but it is also calming to run in the still of that moment.  I love the scenery of the snow-laden branches on the trees.  It is actually one of the best times to run in solitude.  The world is so peaceful and beautiful.  And my breath, freezing as it comes out of my mouth, reminds me that even though I am starting to get warm, it is very cold out, indeed.

I also enjoy running as a snow is just beginning to fall.  As the flakes float through the air, I still try to catch them in my mouth like I did when I was 8 years old.  I like watching the flakes hit the ground so quietly.  It makes me think of how ironic it is...such a quiet kind of weather, that can make such a loud mess. 

Probably the only part of running in the winter that I don't like is how my fingers and toes feel.  I have long been a "cold" person, but especially my fingers and toes.  Over the years, I have tried many kinds of running gloves and mittens, along with disposable hand warmers.  I have finally found a pair of mittens that works for me...as long as I don't stand around in the cold too long before or after my run.  Of course, this all depends on the temperature.  If it is about 20 degrees or higher, I have found that I can wear my running mittens alone.  If it is on the colder end, I must start running immediately, otherwise it won't work and my fingers will be uncomfortable for a long time...possibly my entire run.  When it is below about 20 degrees, I use a light pair of gloves under my mittens and remove them, if necessary, during the run.  As for my toes, well, I currently wear a heavier pair of my balega socks, but that is not always enough.  I still need to figure out the best solution for my toes...I am thinking of trying smartwool next...

In the summertime, I struggle with hydration issues since I sweat...a...lot!  So I have to feel the bouncing and listen to the sloshing of the heavy bottles of replacement fluids I must carry with me on my run.  But, in the winter, I am free...to just run.

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