When I first started running I was very apprehensive about running in the winter. I'm not a big fan of the cold... or being cold. The thought of training outside in the freezing weather just did not sit well.
But after asking around, it seems that prolonged treadmill sessions (longer than 90 minutes) are not that much fun. I've heard reports that it leaves you more sore than "regular" running, that the body mechanics are slightly different and it's just not as good as being outside.
So, I keep my treadmill sessions fairly short and do the long runs outside. Today it was beautiful... bright and sunny and cool -10C (that's about 14F for our friends south of the border). The "real feel" temperature was slightly colder and I think that where I was on the river pathways, it was probably colder yet, because of the water, which was still flowing in most part, though with chunks of ice floating on the surface.
After much reading and asking around, I have learned to prepare myself... Warm water in the bottle, layers of clothing, a hat, gloves, sunglasses and of course, the iPod. I don't get the layers quite right all the time... often I end up with too many. But that's better than not having enough clothes on, for sure.
And so, out I headed for an easy 10 miles (16 km)... nice and slow... out to enjoy the scenery and work on building my base.
Calgary's river pathways are beautiful. In the summer time, they are very busy. But at this time of year, not so much. There are a few people walking dogs and the odd person out for a walk on these pathways that are cleared by the city for those who dare to brave the elements.
Then there's us. The runners. On days like today, we recognize each other as the ones dedicated to our practice. We are drawn by the warmth of summer. Nor are we among those who are out there to "be seen". We are there to run. It's hard work out there in that cold. We know that. But still, we are there, doing what we love to do.
I have discovered that runners who hit Calgary's pathways in the winter are a special breed. They salute one another with a smile, a nod or a wave.... a sign of respect and honour for a fellow die hard. This happens sometimes in the summer, but in the winter, almost every runner I encounter acknowledges others on the path. I love this feeling, this sense of community among individuals. I enjoy the space on the pathways, the cooler air and the way the river and the trees look at this time of year.
I never considered myself a "winter sport" person. Little did I know that running could be a winter sport.