From December 26 to the 31st, I was running in relative comfort in Charleston, South Carolina. I say relative as the locals were bundled up, while I wore comparatively little. Temperatures ranged from the low 40s to the mid 50s. It was glorious shorts weather, and yet I was jealous of my hometown running buddies who were prancing about in the teens or single digits, with a bit of wind thrown in for good measure.
Like a kid on Christmas morning, I couldn’t wait to get home, get out there, and grow some frost on my face.
I managed to head out for an hour on New Year’s eve when the temperature was a balmy 14. This run was important, as we haven’t had temps in this range for several years, and thus my clothing selections were a bit of trial and error.
The run was everything I hoped for, a crisp bright sunset, followed by a moon that lit the sky. The lingering snow on the roads crunched and squeaked underfoot. The air refreshed the deepest recesses of my lungs. Happily, the forecasters were calling for temps to bottom out around 0 for the morning of New Years Day allowing for the distinct possibility that I log the coldest runs for the year on two consecutive days.
I woke, sans alarm, and was itching for the sun to begin to rise. The computer showed a temp of 0, as I hurried to find my warm running gear. These temps would require two layers on the legs, as I hoped to avoid the splotchy redness and burning itchyness of my quads that I experienced when re-entering the house the night before. I managed to wear two pairs of tights, an under armor cold gear long sleeve shirt, a long sleeve dry fit race shirt, and my half zip running jacket, two pairs of cheap gloves, and a hat.
At this point, I’ve already most likely lost some readers who think I’m nuts. But let me explain why its important to not only work out in adverse weather but to actually look forward to its arrival.
As I mentioned before, developing fitness is about doing something every day, no excuses. Extreme weather is an easy excuse, but the problem is that we don’t have extreme weather very often. This lack of harsh conditions, makes a normal 35 degree day, with a little rain or wind seem like a real chore. These days happen all the time.
If you avoid the tough days, then the slightly uncomfortable days become your tough days, and soon workouts are being missed. After starting 2018 with an hour spent in temps that dipped into negative territory, what does the rest of the year have to stop me? Unless I travel far afield, I’ve already enjoyed the worst my area has to offer (although I’m open to temps colder then -8, as that’s my current record). All other conditions are now easy in comparison.
Rain, wind, heat, easy, easy, easy.
By developing a mindset that I look forward to these extreme days, even they aren’t that hard. Honestly, other then the back of my hands, I was perfectly comfortable New Year’s morning. I relish the opportunity to get out there and see what mother nature has to offer.
Every-time we push ourselves to do something that is uncomfortable, our bodies acceptance of what is comfortable is changed, not only physically, but mentally as well.
Now when I need to push myself on my next tempo run, or on that second to last interval on the track (2nd to last is always the hardest), I have a wealth of discomfort to fall back on. Sure, I can run one more leg burning 400, I just spent an hour dipped in the freezer, 70 seconds and once around the oval is easy in comparison.
Forcing yourself to exercise when conditions are less then ideal, not only hardens your body, it hardens your mind. Meeting or exceeding your fitness goals will only come after the mind has been forged to the task. Push through these cold winter workouts, and your mind and body will harden to the daily grind that is yet to come.
If you need help experiencing misery on occasion, I’d be glad to make you uncomfortable.