Do you know what those dark, wet, frigid winter days, the definition of runners’ misery, are good for? They are excellent opportunities for dreaming of the past and planning for the future. I’m writing this with my friends on the Cascade cross country team in mind, but runners of all ages can go through this exercise.
Remember those late summer/early fall runs when the heat was so intense that the air was denser with it, the pavement spongy with it, and a rivulet of sweat could be felt down your back in the first mile? Our bodies adapted to the heat, and we would sweat and seek the shade. After a hard run, cool water never tasted so sweet.
Relive a crisp October race when your energy felt boundless. As the finish line approached you went faster still, your feet barely bending the grass and your competitors falling back, mere obstacles in your path.
In these long winter weeks, when we grow pale from lack of sun and we tend to wear a groove into our sofas, the remembering of sun-kissed movement awakens us out of mental hibernation. Now these stimulated neurons can leap forward to next spring. By the end of May the daylight lasts seven hours longer per day. Think of it – that’s over 400 more minutes or 25,000 more seconds per day! Wow, all of a sudden, the possibilities to get out and do something, anything, seem endless. How easy a run is when you leave behind the headlamp, reflective gear, ice joggers, mittens, hat and windbreaker. Getting out the door is no longer a chore, and you almost feel like you’re missing something because you need so little.
In the spring, even if your athletic focus is elsewhere, perhaps soccer, softball or biking, you can and should get out and run frequently. Run because it is an acceptance of the gift of ice-free roads, sun on the skin, cool breezes, amazing wildflowers and great wildlife sightings that the season is giving to you. Share the gift with a friend and more than double the joy. If running becomes part of your weekly routine, then, come fall cross country season, that energy and power can be honed to take your running to the next level.
This is all food for thought in the depth of winter. I like taking my memories of the past and expanding and multiplying the highlights in some imagined flawless race scenario.
As I write this I know that the present cold drizzle is not exactly luring me out the door. But I am going to grab the headlamp, the ice joggers, the layers of clothing and an IPOD (to shake up the darkness), and ease my way out, with no expectations of the best run ever. Guaranteed I will come back pleasantly surprised at how good it felt, how bedraggled I look (which I don’t notice until I stop running) and how my cheeks momentarily take on the flushed countenance that I see frequently in my daughter’s face after exuberant snow play. Please, give it a try, move a little, while indulging in big dreams.