Today’s post is a guest post by Allison Larsh, who was profiled on The Fartlek Runner’s Toronto Runner series.
[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=winter+running&iid=4510111″ src=”c/4/4/f/Unusual_Arctic_Cold_9f97.jpg?adImageId=8569166&imageId=4510111″ width=”380″ height=”248″ /] You know the one thing that really kills me about summer days? That everyone else loves summer days. You go out for a run —say on a trail by a certain valley — and soon enough you realize that everyone (and their dog!) had the exact same idea. All of a sudden, escaping for a bit of solitude during a run is a little bit harder to do. But, switch the calendar a few months and I’m singing a different tune. I can run the 7.5 km loop without seeing a single other person. It’s me, the trail, and the sub-zero temperatures.
That’s right. My name is Allison and I’m a winter running fanatic.
First, let me get a few things I don’t like about running out of the way. These things are pet peeves, and it’s probably too early in our relationship to tell you about them because I’m afraid I’m going to come off as, well, a bit of a bitch. But, here it goes. I don’t like dodging people on the sidewalk, especially when they are on my half of the sidewalk. And I don’t like to be hot and sweaty. Also, I’m pale, and let’s face it, this skin was not made for the sun. And last, I run to be by myself. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy running with friends, because I truly do. But, a lot of the time, I run to get into a better headspace, my headspace, without interruptions. I know, this is making me sound cranky, it’s just that running really is my alone time.
The thing that people don’t seem to realize is that running is actually more comfortable in the winter. I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out. It’s a summer day — let’s say a balmy twenty degrees centigrade. You go out, tank top and shorts, and you start out feeling fine. Then you knock out a few kilometers, and your internal temperature rises a few degrees. After 10 km, you’re outright hot. If it’s humid, your legs have started to feel heavy and every step feels a little bit harder than it should. This doesn’t happen when it’s cold. Instead, you start out a bit uncomfortable. But, throw on a hat, some winter leggings, a wind proof jacket with a soft under, and some mittens, and for the vast majority of the run, you’re… wait for it… comfortable. Last night, the Weather Network told me it felt like -14. Well, I’d like to argue. After 2K, it felt more like perfection.
[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=winter+running&iid=3429676″ src=”0/9/1/2/Germany_Hit_By_c388.jpg?adImageId=8568324&imageId=3429676″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]Of course, there are some problems that I haven’t quite sorted out yet. For instance, I am not happy with how early it gets dark. And some days, with the wind chill it really is just too cold. But for the most part, I promise, once you get out there, you will wonder why it took you so long. There are days where the snow is fresh and the sun is shining and it will more than match that beautiful fall day or that perfect summer afternoon. One of the best things about living in Toronto is living in a city with four seasons. Winter is definitely one of our most, ahem, talked about. It’d be a shame to write it off without testing it out first. When you come home and pull off that ice encrusted toque and peel away the layers to settle into a bath, you’ll be proud of yourself for adding a little bit more of a challenge to that tempo run, or that speed work, or that long run. It will make you feel more confident in your running and more optimistic about what you, yes you, can do as a runner.
There’s certainly something hardcore about running in the winter. I don’t usually wave at runner’s during the summer (those fair weather runners!). In the winter though, I smile and sometimes even say “hi”. You can’t ignore the feeling of understanding. That is, in a nut shell, what I love about winter running. I don’t run to spend time with other people. I run because I love to run. When I see other runners, especially in the winter, I am struck by a feeling of community, and it always makes my run just a little bit better.
Oh, I almost forgot the absolute best thing: all that winter running gear totally hides any and all jiggling. Promise.
You can hear form Allison on her blog at www.larsh.ca