A New Low

Ready to run!

Ready to run!

For the last few winters, twenty-five degrees has been the coldest that I will run outside. Years ago, after my husband and I realized how much money we were sinking into gyms just to use the treadmills, we purchased one of our own so when it gets below 25, I’ll hop on the treadmill. Well, for any of you who lives in the northeast, the midwest, heck most of the United States, the cold this winter has been brutal. That means lots of hopping on the treadmill. If you know me at all — or any runner for that matter — you know that treadmills can feel like a death march after a while. Re-runs of Supernatural, Buffy and Charmed can only take my mind off the hamster wheel for so long.

When I woke this morning, the day was clear and cold — about 17 degrees. Not as bad as Wednesday’s 3 degrees, but pretty darn chilly all the same. Not only was it cold, but we’d gotten more snow last night so it looked pretty messy out there. Tom was on the treadmill and I knew I was going into a day with a fair amount of sitting and listening so I did what any self-respecting runner would do — I geared up.

Not only do I have all the necessary gear, I even had a pair of Yaktrax from my winter residencies at VCFA when a trek into town could be treacherous in the wrong footwear. I’d never run in the Yaktrax, but I thought: what the hell, might as well try it and see.

They're like tire chains  -- for your shoes!

They’re like tire chains — for your shoes!

The key to very cold running, in my opinion, is not just in the gear (lightweight upper layers, good gloves, tights with fleece lining), but also in the distance. Although the body warms up quick — within the first mile — after about mile 4 or so, I start to feel chilled again. But a short winter run doesn’t necessarily translate to an easy run! Running in snow is like running in the sand. I was huffing and puffing in no time. Getting bold, I even attempted the trail near my house. Talk about huffing and puffing! The level of untrodden snow was a bit much for my sneakers, Yaktrax or no, so I turned tail and returned to the slushy sidewalks and roads.

Those of you who usually tune in to hear me talk about my experiences with writing might be wondering: what’s the point? How does this relate to writing? For me, it’s about being open to new experiences and willing put myself out there to see what happens. Now I can say I’ve reached a new low: running in sub-20 degree weather. But that’s my limit. Or is it?

7 responses to “A New Low

  1. I’m not a runner, but I enjoy taking long walks with my dog. This winter I’ve had to consider carefully the route we take, to avoid getting salt caught between his paw pads, and how long we stay out. Dogs want to please their people so they’ll stay out longer than they should.

    • Lyn, so true! And I know you live in upstate NY, so the snow and cold are a common experience for you. I’ve met a friend a few times to let our dogs run in the local park. In the cold, cold winter, there are few souls out, so no worries about dogs bothering people who aren’t comfortable with our canine friends.

  2. Living in sunny LA, I loved this taste of winter, Laura! Good for you, getting out there! I’ve lived in Wisconsin and PA, so I’ve run in chilly weather. In VT, I went for short runs in the single digits. But I just shut off the alarm the morning my phone said it was -15☺ Growing up in Wisconsin, my mom’s limit was -10. She’s still tough! And I agree, new experiences bring multiple benefits. Happy running and writing to you!

  3. I could use some Yaktrax. Good on you, Laura, for getting out there and running in the freezing cold. And I know it’s cold there, because it’s freezing here!!!! Great post!

  4. Like you, I had a temperature limit…but not this year. I pile on the layers and even wear ski mittens if I must, but if the roads are clear, I’m running. I’d rather get the fresh air, my pup loves to run with me. It’s all good as long as I carry a tissue in my non-leash-holding hand!

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