While we here in Northeast Ohio are fortunate to be granted all four seasons, it is always winter that seems to last the longest. As autumn sunsets into snow, the days get shorter and darker as we burrow beneath our layers of sweatshirts and blankets, anxiously awaiting the eventual return of sun and spring.
As far as Cleveland winters go, this has been pretty mild: a few years ago the overnight snow was so bad I managed to make it halfway to work in twice the time before calling off and turning around. One year in high-school we had so many snow days in a row that they ended up cancelling mid-terms (the man who made the decision for our school district went to our church, so naturally every Sunday in winter he was bombarded with requests for a Monday snow day from students who wanted a three day weekend).
Despite the fact that it is rather mild, it's still snowy and icy and cold out there and, for a time, I had made peace with the dreadmill. I was in the middle of my 10K training and needed to stay on top of my runs, so it was necessary to get on that stupid machine so as to be prepared for the race.
But then, see, a few weeks ago I woke up and had a run ahead of me and knew that if I had to get on that treadmill one more freaking time there was no way in hell this run was going to happen. So I was left with two options: skip the run or brave the cold. I only started running last February and didn't start running outside until March or April: this is my first real winter running so I had no idea what to expect outside. But I didn't want to skip a training run, so I layered up, grabbed gloves and a hat, and headed outside.
It was, without a doubt, one of the most exhilarating runs I have ever had. It also completely kicked my ass: Dodging snow drifts, hopping over patches of ice, clothes wet from falling snow, wondering why the direction of said falling snow manages to change at the exact same time you do so that you're managing to run against the snow the entire way....and yet I loved every minute of it and was reminded of why I love running so much.
So, for the past few weeks I've taken my Friday runs outside and have even added in a Sunday run as well. It's my time to decompress from the previous week and mentally prepare for the next. That whole running is cheaper than therapy bit? So, so true. I have conversations with myself during runs. Long, pointed, necessary conversations. The kind of conversations that allow me to expend whatever negative emotions I'm feelings. The flip side of that is, of course, while releasing negative energy you are obtaining positive energy in the form of endorphins and the sought-after runner's high.
Plus, outdoor winter running is like a special exclusive secret society. During the warmer months I'm exchanging hello's with many a runner over the course of a couple short miles. But these days those passing waves of comradery are few and far between.
Doesn't matter what's going on in your life or how you're feeling or any of that: running outside in the snow will always make you feel like a fucking bad ass.
As a runner, what do you during the snow winter months?
Love from the ashes,