It is seemingly a contradiction, since most runners seem to dread the approach of winter, but I seem to find a strange pleasure in it. I am now in my second season of winter running and I take much more pleasure in it than at any other time of the year. If you are a runner, do you feel the same?
I live in the Czech Republic, so winter here can be quite hostile, at least to my British sensibilities. Although, the Czechs would probably laugh ar me since winter seems to be getting shorter and warmer every year. There are certainly plenty of stories to be told of “What winter was like when I was a child.”
So, I have been pondering why I feel like this. Of course, since winters are getting warmer so are the summers, therefore running during that season has become increasingly unbearable. Spring and autumn are certainly the most comfortable, yet winter holds a strange delight.
Have I discovered some masochistic streak in myself? I don’t think so. In some ways I believe that it is good to simply push yourself harder. I am no spring chicken, so my times are at the tortoise end of the scale. So the main way I can make greater demands on myself is not to give up, not to give in to the temptation to stay inside.
The incredible thing is that it is not even that much of a struggle, I seem to have discovered some internal drive which I would never have believed existed. Getting out there in sub zero temperatures, even when it is snowing or hailing, makes me feel better and stronger. It is my mind which seems to get the greatest benefit, plus my body slowly but surely. The mental positivity I feel from it is by far the greatest benefit that comes from this winter activity.
When you are out running on the trails you don’t see too many other people, at this time of year at least. Those that you do see are, mainly, friendly and more than happy to give you a wave of acknowledgment. They are your tribe after all, those others that haven’t retired for the winter. You and they are in this together, this is something you do all year, not just when it is convenient. Thinking about it feels good, I want to go for a run now. How about you?
Words © Neil Hayes and neilhayeswrites