Snow Running Is On

I used to say I would never, that I can’t, and that I won’t ever be caught alive..LOL..running in a foot of snow. Why would I do that? I’m not crazy. In fact, I don’t even like snow like that or the cold at all for that matter! In the future, remind me how not fun it is to eat one’s words, as I’m having to gorge out right now. Since February began, I’ve been running every which way and sideways in some really freezing conditions with snow and ice everywhere. I’m not even kidding y’all. I haven’t seen such icy conditions for such a prolonged period of time in a minute or, more precisely, in some years. Like what is going on around here? I’m dealing with it in the only way I know how, telling myself that somewhere out there in this big world somebody[s] need this cold and that the cycle of life is necessary for human survival. Maybe so, but gosh darn its blisteringly cold at times and causing all sorts of mayhem on the roads in the United States. In addition, the runner in me cannot be silenced so I’ve been layering up and braving the elements in total defiance of conventional wisdom. Now I’m officially part and parcel of those “crazy people who go running in the snow.”

Post the snow storm

I gotta give a lot of kudos to Strava in getting me out the door – being part of an online community of runners, especially in this Covid world – has motivated me (who prize myself on being self-motivated) to stay connected and to keep logging those miles. Every now and then, I’ll get on the app and see runners all over the world doing their thing; overcoming obstacles, meeting milestones, shifting barriers – no matter how small or big they are – and I’m like, I have no excuse. I have health, strength, and two legs. So what if it’s freezing? There are layers for that. And so without a reason there is now endless opportunities for running or jogging or walking and trudging through snow. Cycling, not so much. I’m not that crazy, yet.

However, there are a few things where I draw the line: early morning runs and evening runs. These days runs typically take place midmorning to early afternoon and sometimes I find myself coming back in the latter part of the afternoon. On those days it’s usually accompanied by blazing but cold sunshine, though not as cold as under grey and cloudy skies. Can I tell you, that those grey days feel like I’m encased in an icebox of sorts and the only relief comes from burrowing into myself. I usually go for a run – run to the gym, work out, then run home, and spend a bit of time warming up when I get there before I feel human-like again. The steady motion and movement keeps my synapses firing and I generally don’t have much time to process it until I’m in the shower by which time it’s thankfully done. Talk about thankful for a delayed reaction because by then I’m in full there-is-no-way-you-could-get-me-out-the-door mode.

On the run

A few days ago, around 3 pm, I opted to go for an afternoon run after a snow storm two days prior. Because I decided on a route I hadn’t been in a bit, I was excited and careful to dress the part. I double-socked (if that’s a thing), thriple-layered my upper region, and double-layered underneath until I was sure I would be dragging with all the extra clothes. I also put on my trail running sneakers. Speed is not the goal I reminded myself, staying vertical and moving was. With all the sidewalk snow practice I’d had, you’d think I would be more adept at navigating myself through the ice and as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas. No sir. I was running – too fast sometimes – and skipping and sliding everywhere. Thankfully no falls. Though it was close at times, I managed to keep the momentum going and was wowed enough by the stark, whiteness and beauty of the winter wonderland I was in, that I all but forgot to feel cold until I had to stop to take photos. Obviously, it was a slower run but the path was pretty amazing; all scenic and rural-woodsy looking. I felt as if I was in some unknown landscape having an icy adventure, with very few humans out on the snowy trails.

Snow trail

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not necessarily looking to do that again anytime soon, it was almost 10 miles of snow after all. I think I’ll just stick to the sidewalks, back roads, and the park. I’ll keep dodging black ice, and slush, and puddles, and trudging through the areas in Queens that don’t get quite such a quick or clean sweep from the residents and snow ploughs as the city does. It sounds more dangerous than it is but it’s certainly much safer than being out in the snowy woods all alone. The greatest downside and my favorite is that the trails are so much more breathtaking and are littered with views to run for. I guess I’ll have to get back there eventually. For the sake of running views, I’ll do almost anything. 😜

Winter Brr Miles

Randall’s Island

It’s been 2021 for a minute already if you can believe it and I’m still trying to figure out my winter running plans. That’s right, it’s also Winter in these parts. And though we haven’t gotten much snow yet, it’s pretty chilly. Yours truly is not so motivated to go freeze on my own, because yes, we’re still living in a Covid world where social distancing is the new normal. Arrgh. Man was not made to live alone no matter what they tell you, we need active, life-giving relationships and steady interaction, which is necessary for thriving I’m told. So I wanna thrive! Survival happens to be overrated anyway. Enter 2021 and a new year of possibilities and hopefully more opportunities than the last.

Just us 3

Thriving in mind, I’ve decided to mix up my running with some small group runs at least once a month for the next few months while it’s cold. That, or I might just go into hibernation and we can’t have that. So Sunday gone, I headed out for a run to Randall’s Island in Manhattan. Darn it was cold! And I can promise you I would’t have left home if I didn’t have me some running company – the best kind. We decided we would try for 10 miles and add on more depending on how it felt. It didn’t. Feel good. 10 miles was enough to witness the gorgeous but chilling sunshine and the gusty views of the city once we got over the 102nd Street bridge via the East River running path. No surprise that there were other humans braving the temps. NYC is like that – people tend to the outdoors since apartment coop-up is not really a thing around here. Thankfully, we weren’t in the park so there were less of us. Still, it’s good to know you’re not the last crazy runner left. We started out at 65th and 3rd Ave and ran across the bridge on 61st to get to the East River running path and ran all the way up to 102nd Street and across the bridge to Randall’s Island. We then did an almost full loop with one bathroom stop before heading back over the bridge. Pretty simple and on the average day a very easy run.

102nd Street Bridge in the distance

It felt amazing to be out in the elements being a bit of a badass runner except it required mass effort to breathe in chilly air, talk, and face cover all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for a face covering as it kept my face warm but I did have some gasping-for-air moments that was as a result of the cold air. We followed the same path back to our starting point and of course that went by much faster. Can’t say I wasn’t happy when it was over, though for an insane moment I contemplated running over the Queensboro bridge with another runners. Good sense prevailed however, and I ditched that idea as I felt it would be too windy going over the water at that height. We split separate ways and let’s just say I didn’t revert to normal body temperature until some 4 hours later.

In the train station

Since last Sunday, I’ve had a few runs in freezing temps but I’ve been careful to keep them brief, at the peak of the day, and to remain in motion for the duration of the run. The key to not hating running in the cold so much is to dress warmly. While you can’t really wear a lot of clothes and run comfortably, you can dress smartly with proper wicking and insulated gear to stave off the cold from penetrating your body. I usually wear triple layers on my top half, double layers for my bottom half and double up on socks, shoot for insulated gloves – weirdly enough I run with my hands in my jacket pockets, don’t ask –  and a balaclava or neck gaiter with a hat works in addition to a hoodie to keep my face protected. Even with all that most times you may still be cold, especially if it’s windy. At that point you may want to throw on a windbreaker on top of all that. The trick is to keep moving, keep it to the point, and run with the wind at your back if possible. For winter running, you really just want to get out there and back in as soon as possible. For me, the accomplishment is all in layering up and getting out the door, even if it’s just for a couple miles; distance is of minor consequence and speed even less so. My badassery, LOL, (my word) comes in knowing that I didn’t succumb to the temptations of warm duvet covers and quilts..Lord knows I wanted to..but I dug deep and found that fit chick that is often very willing to do all that’s crazy in the name of exercise.

Your First Long Run

So you’ve decided to give it a try.  Step out of your 3-5 mile comfort zone and enter the world of longer runs.

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Maybe you’re thinking 10 miles, a half marathon or even a full marathon.  I say let’s start with the half.  It’s a safer bet and you’ll get to them all eventually anyway.  It’s all good.  I’d wager you’re well on your way already given your decision to challenge yourself.  I’ve always agreed that whatever the path of life you choose, you should always give it your best shot; it’s the only way you grow and have the opportunity to realize your full potential.  With that in mind and with you half-way there, after-all making the decision to stretch yourself being the toughest part, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

  • Build up slowly; you’ve done 5 miles so make your next goal 6 miles in say two weeks, three times a week then to 7 miles, then eight and so on.
  • Have an overarching goal/race in mind, that way you’ll be working towards something and will be motivated to see it through.
  • It sometimes helps to have a physical reminder, especially on those days you’re not feeling it; write down your goal and place it where you’re sure to see it and be reminded daily.
  • Find a running buddy; someone who shares your goal and will help you in the areas of encouragement and accountability, one with whom you can discuss healthy eating, rest habits and get motivated.                                          
  • Lastly, as you work your way up the mile rack, it may help if you do trial/test runs. Do a 10k, then as you progress try a 9 miler etc., and always, always, prepare yourself mentally as well as emotionally. Running is no easy feat and the best runners will tell you it’s as much mental as it’s physical.

Good Luck! You’ll do awesome!!!

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