Preparing Mentally to Run Outside When It’s Cold, Wet, and Dark

After an October where I repeatedly checked the weather app, saw a little sun shining down on a flawless 65-degree day, and maniacally donned a pair of shorts to breeze through my morning run, November has hit me like a ton of bricks. For the past two weeks, it’s been nothing but chilly mornings and unexpected drizzles. Last Saturday, the cashier at my grocery store warned me it could snow. I grew up in New England, so you’d think I’d be used to the annual departure from balmy to blizzard — I am not.

This year, however, I am determined to overcome my aversion to the cold and avoid the gym as much as possible. While I’m not planning to start training for Boston until January, I’m already beginning to worry about how a treadmill could affect my stride and shins. To prepare for my personal challenge — complete quality workouts, despite a killer wind chill — I’ve decided I need to invest in some more legitimate running outwear. Here’s what I’ve got on my wishlist:

Jacket that’s not too hot, not too cold

 

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Doesn’t she look athletic and comfortable? I bet she’s never even seen a treadmill. Image from nike.com

 

Last winter, on really cold weekends, I pulled on my old EMS microfill down jacket to make sure I didn’t get hypothermia. It worked like a charm until I would start to sweat; since the jacket has zero breathability, my sweat would just culminate until I was decently damp. Sorry, terrible image. This Nike jacket is insulated in the front, but the back and side are made to be breathable — so maybe I’d be able to stop for a stretch without my body temperature dropping 10 degrees.

Tights that won’t feel like actual tights

 

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Yeah same, my abs also look this great. Photo from lululemon.com

 

Not all running tights are the same — some are toasty warm, while others feel more akin to the ones I wear when I’m trying to make a skirt more appropriate in February. My legs tend to feel much more comfortable in cold weather than my torso, but that doesn’t mean my muscles don’t tighten up when it drops below freezing. I’m really digging these Lululemon tights, even if the reviews aren’t phenomenal (there’s talk of them pilling). As long as the ‘thermal’ part works, I’m down.

Next level crazy traction

 

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These would make me look/feel so legit. Get at me Outside Mag. Photo from icebug.com

 

Last winter, I ran multiple times in the snow. My parents told me I was insane, but that’s kind of the point of all this, so I wasn’t deterred. Running while snow is lightly falling is actually beyond lovely: you don’t get wet like you do with rain, you usually have the road to yourself, and it’s fantastically beautiful. However, the traction is tricky — and by tricky I mean dangerous, and possibly injury-inducing. That’s why I’m looking to invest in a pair of trail runners that are specialized for the snow. My college teammate was from Montana, and she used Icebugs when the roads got rough. They’re more expensive than my usual running shoes, but I think they’d be worth it on snow days.

My hope is that come the hard months of winter, I’ll be ready to run no matter what the weather report says. But, as with this wish list, I know I can’t always get what I want.

 

I’m in!

For the last week and a half, I’ve been checking my email approximately 50 times a day. Finally, yesterday at around 12:30, I go the email I’ve been hoping for….

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I’M IN! I’ll be running the 2018 Boston Marathon! So, I guess from this point on, this blog is going to be mostly concerned with “that psycho girl who’s running 20 miles outside in the winter.” And I couldn’t be more excited.

I have a couple of hard and fast bucket list items, and running the Boston Marathon is pretty much on the top of that list. Ever since I started feeling serious about running (~the summer before my senior year of high school), I’ve dreamed about the day that I would be fast enough to qualify and run Boston. I qualified for Boston this past May when I ran in the Maine Coast Marathon. Even though the race course was accidentally lengthened by about a half a mile, I still managed to score a time of 3:31:08. The qualifying bar for women my age is 3:35:00, but in the past few years runners have had to beat the BQ by about two minutes. So, I figured I was in, but I still wasn’t quite sure.

Little did I know, this was actually the hardest year in race history for runners to get into Boston. This year, runners had to be 3 minutes, 23 seconds faster than the qualifying time. So, if I had just taken a bit longer on those gatorade stops, I wouldn’t have made it in.

I’m so lucky that I made it in, and elated to have the chance to accomplish something I’ve always wanted to do.

Now, though, the work begins.

Starting a blog about running is hilarious.

To be clear, I love running blogs. My favorite way to procrastinate on the internet is to read blogs about new running shoes, races, nutrition, etc. But starting a running blog is a different beast entirely. Exhibit A, me trying to take *cute* running photos of myself with my iPhone 6 on a 10 second timer:

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Cute, right???!!!!!!! I hate this photo, but it was the best one of the bunch I took. I feel uncomfortable asking my friends to come on a run and take photos of me — truthfully, I haven’t even told many of my friends that I started a blog, and those I have told don’t know the URL. Also, running photos, as a rule, are terrible. In high school I had a few good ones, but since college I’ve hated how they’ve all turned out. A large part of this has to do with feeling self-conscience of my own body, and what it looks like when I’m not posed in a perfect angle in a perfect outfit. Running photos show how big my legs are, how awkwardly my arms swing, how odd my nose looks in profile, how squinty my eyes get when I’m focusing. But part of why I started this blog is because I wanted to celebrate how much I love running, and how good running makes me feel.

I feel at my most beautiful when I run. While I know, from photo and video evidence, that my running form is not Baywatch material, when I run I feel like Wonder Woman. So while this blog may not feature thousands of photos of me running, those that do appear may not seem beautiful to the internet at large.

Starting a running blog is hilarious, because it means being honest about who I am and what I feel, even if it looks ridiculous.

“You’re psycho.”

It was the first Sunday of my freshmen year of college, and I had to get up at 6:15 to run 8 miles in a flash flood. My roommate was buried deep beneath her covers, but she stirred and looked at me when I opened the door to leave. “You’re psycho. Do you actually think running is fun?”

Granted, it’s wasn’t my choice to hold morning cross country practice in a torrential rain storm, but I guess that was besides the point.

I do think running is fun; and sometimes, that can seem a bit psychotic.

I love to wake up early, drink a 4-day-old cup of coffee, and run before the sun rises. I’ll run at night, clutching a flashlight and a can of mace. The highlight of my weekends are my long runs when I try to see how far and fast I can go before needing to rest. Sometimes, I run so far that I feel delusional with happiness.

Ever since I quit soccer and took up cross country, I’ve been called a psycho by friends, family, and rando dudes on the street. Maybe I am psychotic, but honestly I think that’s better than the alternative.

This is a blog about living my best life as a sweaty, psycho runner in a world full of sleek SoulCycle advertising. Enjoy the hot race pictures.