Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why I Like Running In The Winter And Dislike Your Incessant, Ninny Bitch Moaning Regarding The Cold

Is this even worth typing, given the soupy mess that currently surrounds the better part of Chicago? Dare I taunt the weather, risk bringing forth the next Arctic Blas(t)phemy to our wintered state?

While walking to lunch with some of my coworkers last week, the joy of running and races rose to the surface of conversation.
            
An aside, because I am really solid when it comes to tangents: I am incredibly stilted in my understanding of the populous of the working world, given my earlier career exploits surrounded by people who considered health/wellness/fitness (and the competitive notion) something of importance. Everyone is entitled to the lifestyle of their choosing or something as equally polite-sounding, but sedentary and sizable isn’t for me. I can’t comprehend walking down the hallway causing someone to be short of breath, yet I see this daily. Last week, office wellness statistics rated 64% of employees at my 90-person organization to be overweight, 33% of which were classified as obese. Eeeks. So it’s good to know that there are people in proximity who enjoy being active in the face of many whom equally don’t comprehend any sort of fitness or the actions such entail. For example, I was sent this visual tidbit earlier today as I enjoy getting out and walking around the Loop during lunch. Guh..faw?

I feel that someone dropped the ball by not forcibly including a Cathy comic with this visual.
And probably a bowl of candy.
Anyway. When someone mentioned distain of the cold weather and reliance on a treadmill during these winter months, I made the saddest of faces (go back and read some of my poorly written entries on why I don’t run on a treadmill from a few years ago). Then I went and ate a sandwich. 

Wait, no – that isn’t the point of this entry. And it wasn’t that good a sandwich to ruminate over.

I was asked why I enjoy cold, slick, icy, snowy running, and I surprised myself, shifting away from a near boilerplate response of “Midwestern, Character-Building, Mental Toughness, Its Always Colder Somewhere Else” babble. I still believe all that, to be fair. But I finally vocalized it in an oddly succinct manner, which I will now painfully drag out in the written form.

In the midst of a sub-zero six miler last Monday night, I was struck by the level of focus that running in the wintery cold requires. Can’t really put your head down and go, close out the excess of the world around you (which is exactly what my colleague said they enjoyed about headphones on the treadmill). Be it careless automotive efforts that you cannot control, planning how to launch over a sizable snow pile, keeping an eye out for impending slick spots of icy doom. Even knowledgeably layering, thinking about the direction of the wind or where snowplows have or haven’t yet appeared (looking at you, River Forest).


These runs in the colder elements are not thoughtless efforts.

I think for me, a presence of clarity arises from these jaunts that feels different than just a normal, feet on the pavement effort. I feel mentally alert and fresher afterwards, ripe with stupid things to tweet--and it comes as no surprise that there is a correlation betwix fitness and creativity

Briefly mentioned it in my overview of 2013, but I decided to run a half marathon at a state park whilst under the weather. At a bit past mile two, I was flustered and frustrated as I just felt unhappy that it wasn't going to be my day. So I stopped and gave myself about thirty yards to walk and figure out what I wanted to do. I decided that instead of keeping my head down and feel awful for another 10ish miles, I slowed down, kept my head up and took in the scenery around me on a hilly training run. It was the right decision, an odd and cathartic thing for me to do, but there is something to be said of those people we pass by who keep focus on the ground/locked in a 100-yard stare off into the distance, or those who keep their heads up and see what surrounds us. 

IS THIS LOOKING UP AND DOWN NONSENSE A METAPHOR FOR POSITIVITY? WELL SHIT. I need to wrap this up. 

I've encountered ridiculously pleasant and talkative people while out on colder days, people who wouldn't have noticed me or had nothing to say if not for looking up at a stop light, crossing over the highway or while walking the dog near a park. Uh. Yeah...Dogs!

These are my mom's canines. But they don't care for your moaning, either.
I think it's kind of cool to have one of these historic winters as an experience to reference down the road. Sorry baby boomers, your '67 Blizzard stories just don't hold water anymore. So take it all in for what it's worth, but I swear if you bemoan the humidity and warmth of the summer, so help me. 


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