Saturday, December 08, 2007

I love winter running

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.

11 comments:

Steve Stenzel said...

I wish I had your Winter Running Spirit! I hate running in winter - most correctly, I guess I hate slipping on the sidewalks in the winter....

Downhillnut said...

I personally think winter XC running should be an Olympic sport.

Staying upright in winter uses different sensibilities and muscle groups than just trotting along on dry pavement. I must admit I prefer warmer weather for overall running comfort, but there is a special source of pride that grows from conquering the weather *in addition* to the run.

Sarah said...

There's that same sense of camaraderie here among the winter runners on the muddy (and sometimes icy/slushy) trails. Enjoy!

Backofpack said...

I love winter running too, but fear the ice. I've fallen more than once on a patch of ice I didn't see (usually because it's o'dark thirty). I think the coldest I've ever run in was 17 degrees F...that's once every couple years for us. You are one tough runner! I think the comraderie is the best too.

robtherunner said...

I imagine the dressing for that kind of weather is a bit more difficult. I can only remember running in that cold a few times and the hardest part was keeping my face warm. I love to run in the cold though. Glad to hear you are out braving the elements and enjoying it.

Tracy said...

I live in a ski town in Colorado, and at first I was apprehensive of running in the winter. But I quickly became fond of the sound of running in the snow and the quiet of winter.

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craig said...

I guess you are aware that this post is proof you're a hardcore runner now. I really enjoyed this post.

Turtle Guy said...

"die hard"
"dedicated to our practice"
"doing what we love to do"

...it's what life is all about.

You rock.

PNW Runner said...

You are one dedicated runner for sure. You are so right, just went out for today during lunch hour for 4 mile run and exchanged a greeting with every runner I encountered today!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

so cool!!!

olga said...

Loved your tribute to winter runners:) And good on you for celebrating 1 year running in style, what a hoot!