One of the most frequent questions I get is why do I run outside? Why do I run in the wind and the snow and the heat and the rain? Why run outside when I could be in a climate controlled gym? Where I wouldn’t have to worry about sunburn, windburn or slipping on ice? The answer to these questions are both simple and complicated– I love to run outside. There are many days of the year (winter, and most of spring and fall) when I would only venture outside when absolutely necessary if it weren’t for running. It’s often too cold for me to really enjoy being outside, except when I run. And that’s because my run is also the only time I’m actually, truly warm.
To be constantly cold wears on me. To feel the ends of my fingers go numb at the tips when I’m sitting at my desk in the middle of the day or when I grip the steering wheel on my drive home at night is both uncomfortable and disconcerting.
On the days when it’s below freezing outside I visualize my feet crunching in the soft snow and the sting of the snow in my cheeks. My heart pumping in my chest and the hammer pound of the blood in my ears. And then I put on as much clothing as it takes to get me out the front door. Wool hat, mittens, fleece hoodie, long sleeved shirt, fleece lined running pants, and a second set of mittens over the first. I shed clothing as I go. I tuck the hat into the waistband of my pants, hold on to my mittens in one hand. And usually, as long as it’s not wet, by the time I am 2-3 miles in I am warm. My toes burn as the numbness recedes and is replaced with a rush of heat as they pound against the pavement. My hands are always the last things to get warm. But eventually blood warms the ends of my fingertips. When that happens I am a machine. Well oiled. Smooth. Tireless. At least for a little while.