I’m not a winter person by any means. I don’t like anything about it. So you might be shocked to hear that if I had the choice to run in the dead of winter or the dead of summer, I would choose winter. And I would ALWAYS choose outdoors. I didn’t know how true that statement was until a couple of weeks ago.
This winter has been extremely cold. Well, I guess to be fair, we’ve been pretty lucky the last couple years with unusually milder winters. It’s taken some testing and playing around to try and get my runs done. I’ve gotten most of them in, either in full or in part. I’ll call those modified messes.
When the temperature started reading -22c and “feels like” -30c I decided that it was not safe to run outside. So I thought, ok, let’s try that damn treadmill again. If I absolutely have to, I’ll just do it. I’m a pretty strong willed person. I can do anything I set my mind to.
This is where the modified mess comes in. I have confirmed once and for all that I am not a treadmill runner. Regardless of the motivation, the strategy and even my attitude going into a treadmill run, about 10 minutes in (which feels like an eternity to me) my mind starts playing all sorts of games with me. I just don’t have the mental capacity to run on the spot looking out a window at the same tree for any more time than that. In the winter it’s even worse because when I get down to the gym it’s usually already dark so the window I’m looking out becomes a mirror and all I can see is a reflection of myself looking like a lost soul in a sinking ship and feeling like I want to just jump right though that window.
After two back to back treadmill catastrophes, in which I barely hung on for 5k each time (I was scheduled for 8k) I decided to suck it up, dress for the weather and head out. I figured I would, at the very least, have the same chance as I would on the treadmill so I had nothing to lose. The next run was –14c with a feels like into the mid -20’s. I layered up. 3 shirts under my jacket, 2 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of socks, a headband, neck warmer and 2 pairs of gloves. For the first 20 minutes or so of the 16k I was freezing cold. My legs and my face (even with the neck warmer pulled up over the back of my head and covering the bottom of my face) were numb. But once I got warmed up, I felt great! The temperature wasn’t an issue any more. The biggest challenge of that run became the snow, slush, ice that we were running through.
The biggest challenge in winter running is the footing. Trudging through all that ice, snow and slush takes a ton of concentration. One wrong step and you could be out for weeks. Months even. And, the extra toll it takes on your legs makes you feel like you’ve run 5k more than you actually did.
So, why would I rather run in winter than summer? Well, if it’s cold, you can layer up until you’re comfortable. but you can only go so far de-layering in the summer before you risk getting arrested. Add in the additional body heat you produce when you run and it’s a no brainer.
I’ve gone out for every run since the whole treadmill incident. Dressing for the temperature, and keeping safe. No more treadmill. It’s just not for me.