Winter is my least favorite time of year. Having lived in the Midwest my entire life, and specifically in Chicago, Madison and South Bend, I am certainly no stranger to the snow and cold. However, even aside from the chilling physical conditions, winter running also requires additional coordination and planning. During the winter season, I can no longer just throw on a pair of shoes and head outside. Instead, nearly every one of my runs is preceded by a search for a missing glove or the contemplation of adding an additional layer. So I must admit, I was hesitant in signing up for a spring marathon where the majority of the training would take place in these blustery conditions.
While my motto “just get to March” seems to have been quashed with this most recent snowfall, the truth is, this winter’s training cycle has made me learn more about myself as a runner than ever before.
There have been great runs, where I feel like I’m flying over a sunlit frozen tundra. And there have been horrible runs, with the wind whipping off the lake and the sweat leaving icicles frozen on my eyelashes and eyebrows. I have also logged more miles on the treadmill in a single session than I ever thought was humanly possible (and I didn’t die of boredom)!
Winter training has also motivated me to join training groups and foster new friendships. Upon reflection, my running circle has grown exponentially due to a search for solidarity against these brutal conditions. Each one of these runs has served as a checkpoint on my attitude. Runs that I easily would have made excuses about or postponed required me to get myself out the door. Upon reflection, I can only truly remember one run this entire season that was as bad as I had anticipated. To me, this proves just how much of this sport is a matter of attitude, perspective, and mental toughness.
Although winter still may not be my favorite time of year, I feel that the nearly successful completion of this winter cycle has served as my hazing into becoming a full fledged runner.