June 16, 2024

Tales from a Winter-Weather Runner by Jason Saltmarsh

Tales from a Winter-Weather Runner

Running in low temperatures is not recommended by mothers. If you’re a cautious person and enjoy the safety, warmth and predictability of the treadmill then read no further. But, if you’re looking for a running experience that defines toughness and catapults you beyond others that sit comfortably in their homes as you stride past, read on.

Running outside this time of year requires something extra in terms of motivation. It can be difficult to stick to your plan any time of the year. Right now is gut-check time. Not many runners are out there on the roads and trails right now. If you see one, you know at least 3 things about them. 1. They’re serious 2. They’re tough 3. They’re uncomfortable.

I ran an 8 mile loop by the ocean today when it was a balmy 10 degrees outside. The wind chill was around -5 to -10 degrees. Here’s how it went:

Mile 1 – I can’t fill my lungs without coughing cold air. Nose starts to sting as I approach 1/2 mile mark. My nose runs faster than I do.

Mile 2 – Why won’t these mittens keep my fingers warm? Feeling in the 2nd and 3rd toes is gone.

Mile 3 – Hands are warm now, sweat beginning to drip from underneath my hat. Toes are still incommunicado.

Mile 4 – Feeling has come back in my toes. My hands are sweaty. I want to curse every truck that passes by and blasts me with fumes and frigid air.

Mile 5 – A nice ocean breeze off the water brings the windchill way down. The sweat has now frozen to the front of my sunglasses. I start to wonder if maybe 6 miles would have been a better idea.

Mile 6 – Pass a walker and a dog. Both of which stop in their tracks and turn to watch me run by. Must be thinking the same thing: “What on earth is he doing?”

Mile 7 – The sweat now drips mercilessly on my cheeks and neck. I pick up the pace just to get back sooner. I pass a cyclist with full face mask and think: 1. He must be serious about his cycling. 2. A full facemask? C’mon…

Mile 8 – Mittens come off a half mile from home. Feeling good now that I’m close. I turn into the driveway and feel the sun on my face and think what a beautiful day this is.

Cheers to all of you that are out their logging miles. Each time you head out you’re building your endurance, your grit, and your confidence. This time of year, the days may be frigid and messy, but they are also quite beautiful.

So if you have appropriate safety and winter-weather gear, don’t let the shorter days and colder temps deter your training. Get out there and log your miles, your race is just around the corner. And who knows, you’ll may even come to enjoy your winter running!

Jason Saltmarsh is an competitive masters runner at distances ranging from 5K to the half marathon. In November 2013, he raced his first 26.2 at the iconic New York City Marathon. Jason’s goal is to share with others the benefits and joys of running, fitness and healthy living. For more information, please visit saltmarshrunning.com

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