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.