It's Not You. It's Me.

You know that I love running in cold weather and do all my runs outside. I also run about 5:30 a.m. on weekdays before work. This means I'm running in the coldest, darkest, crappiest parts of the day. I'm totally fine with that but realize that most people aren't like me. When I ran last week in the morning of one of our wind chill advisories day, my husband asked me when I returned if I saw any other runners out. "No..." I hesitantly admitted. "See! You're the only crazy one!" he teased.

So, I admit it. Most people don't like running in the dark and don't like running in the cold and especially don't like running in both. You all are the sane ones for doing treadmills runs. I'm the crazy one!

Seriously, though, it really comes down to personal preference. This past weekend brought that home. On Saturday morning when we had a bad snowstorm, one of our local running groups canceled its group run. One of the members upset people by saying there was no reason to cancel and that running in snow and cold is perfectly fine. Most people disagreed and thought he was ignoring safety issues and that it was good the group run was canceled. It was a bit of drama, with the group reminding everyone to respect personal preferences.

Now, I do see the side of running in snow and cold being perfectly fine...IF you have invested in the right gear, are comfortable in those conditions, and have a safe place to run. I have the gear, I'm comfy out there, and I have some routes near my house where the sidewalks are (usually) kept clear. But not everyone wants to invest in all that gear, which does get pricey. Or maybe they don't have a safe route to run. Or maybe they just don't want to run in snow and cold period. Whatever the case, it's all good. Whatever your preference, we're all out there making it happen in whatever way works for us. So there, husband, I am NOT crazy. ;-)

It's also about our comfort zone. This was very clear to me yesterday. I have always been a morning exerciser, way before I started running. Working out first thing in the morning is just second nature to me--so much so that I dread running at any other time. In fact, many times that I've planned a run after work, I've skipped it because I hate the idea of running late in the day. It just doesn't work for me. Not only am I lacking motivation and energy after work, but I just hate leaving my cats and dog again once I get home, when they very clearly make it known that I have been gone too long for them.

But when the temps yesterday morning were -8F--real temps, not wind chill, which was worse--and I saw that the temps would rise to 29F by the end of the day, well, it's hard to make the case for my morning run. But I so much didn't want to run after work that I considered going to the gym and running on the treadmill in the morning...but I can only use the treadmill for 30 minutes because it shuts off automatically and there's always people waiting for it. Is it really worth it to drive to the gym and then run for just 30 minutes?

So, I decided to run at lunch. It would be 16 degrees and sunny when I went out, and I had time in my schedule for it. Still, I was anxious because it was not a morning run and so outside of my comfort zone. Before leaving for work, I even told my husband, "Wish me luck on my lunch run."

I'm not sure what luck I thought I needed, but I'm so happy the weather forced me to try something new. I loved the run! I ran a four-mile route from my office in Oakland up past CMU's campus, then up the long Forbes Avenue hill to Squirrel Hill, then up Northumberland, a steep, long side street. Then I ran through Schenley Park (the road part, which was clear of snow, not the trails), through CMU's campus, and back. It was so much fun to run somewhere new and to tackle new hills. Plus, I was back at my desk in a little less than an hour, and it only took me a few more minutes to clean up and dress. (I didn't shower but instead just used a cleansing wipe to wipe off, though I wasn't really even sweaty.) I liked the run so much I might replace one of my morning runs with a lunch run, at least in the winter.

So, two lessons here.
  1. Don't feel bad or think you're crazy for running whatever way is in your comfort zone. This winter has been really tough, and we all need to find whatever works for us.
  2. Try something new sometimes! You might find out you like it.