I have often thought of the winter months as the time when runners grow their roots. The days are short, the weather isn’t always hospitable, and it is difficult to get warm, especially if muscles are a bit stiff. However, there is a beautiful grit and tenacity which takes root within the winter runner. All of those miles of foggy breath illuminated by a headlamp make a difference. They strengthen the core.
Every other season of the year, I feel like I am treated to a visual feast whenever I run. The bright green of the spring, the shimmering bay in the summer, and the colorful foliage in the fall. Winter is grey, silver, brown, and muted. The abbreviated days mean that many runners who tackle their miles in the mornings or the evenings are doing so in the twilight and the dark. Winter redirects the energy inward… we are left with little distraction but the sound of the wind, the rain, and sometimes the crunch of frost or snow beneath our striking feet.
With little that distracts and uplifts us visually, we must rely on our inner love of the running practice. The runner on the side of the road remaining steadfast against the wind and sideways rain has to feel that love in order to continue moving forward. As we enter this holiday season, some with glee, some with reservations, some with sadness, the practice of running remains available to us. It remains to help us develop love for the process, and love for ourselves. It remains to heal us. It remains to test us, and it remains to reward us.
It’s been some time since I’ve updated this blog, but do not mistaken that for a hiatus from running. Quite the contrary… I believe I am running more regularly than ever before. This month, I dedicated myself to running at least 3 miles a day. It’s 11/15 and I am 48 miles in to my goal.
After a summer plagued by health issues, I am incredibly thankful for every run I have the privilege of enjoying. I ran the Bellingham Bay half marathon at the end of September, and while it was not a PR, I finished 2 minutes faster than I did at the same race last year. I was so happy to pull it off and cross the finish line. I owe much of my success to my lovely friend and running buddy who joined me for many of my long runs in the month leading up to the race.
I did get to experience a PR this fall. Yesterday, I ran my fastest 10K to date, and it was at a race, which made it quite official. The 10K has really grown on me as a favorite distance. Unlike a 5K, which favors the speeding bullets, a 10K requires runners to be very intentional with their endurance and speed. I like the 10K because it is long enough to get into the zone (after the 2 or 3 miles it always takes me to fully warm up), but I still have a lot of energy when I finish, and I am not sore the next day.
Next up, I have a few more 5K races planned before the year is up. I am toying with the idea of doing a trail half marathon on New Year’s Eve… just at a leisurely pace for fun. The winter will be dedicated to training for the Whidbey Island Half Marathon. I hope to get my fastest time yet in April.
How thankful I am to have a running practice in my life, and relationships with myself and others that are deepening as a result of this practice.