Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Confessions of a (Former) Weather Wimp {Wordy Wednesday}

This has been quite a winter, and it's not over yet! Though my calendar clearly states that spring begins tomorrow, the 7-day forecast tells quite a different story. We're in for another cold snap next week, with the possibility of yet another winter storm!

But I'm not complaining. I'll be out there running whether we get snow or really really cold rain.

A pretty amazing phenomenon has occured over the past few months. It started before I got back into running, actually. When I was still taking the train to work each day, I discovered that I really enjoyed walking in the cold. I assure you this was not always the case.

I grew up in the South, but never cared much for the heat and humidity. Part of what drew me to the Mid-Atlantic area was the climate -- I love having 4 distinct seasons (even though in some years the temperatures fluctuate like a wild roller coaster rather than gradually increasing or decreasing the way they "should."). I even love winter, especially when it snows. However, the more extreme the temperatures, the more likely I was to complain and attempt to stay indoors.

This winter, we've experienced some unusual blasts of record-breaking cold (polar vortex, anyone?), with single-digit temps and wind chills well into negative numbers! I fully admit that on the very coldest days, I stayed warm and snug inside my house as much as possible. But somehow, experiencing that insane cold toughened me up enough to appreciate temps in the 20's and even the teens! What I used to consider too cold now has become pleasant -- the previously intolerable is now not only tolerable, but enjoyable!

The feeling carried over from walking outside to running. In weather that once would have driven me straight to my treadmill, I've gone out for fantastic frigid runs! My new favorite way to enjoy a snow day is to run down the freshly-plowed streets of my neighborhood, breathing in the crisp air while admiring the frosty beauty all around me. I still draw the line at negative wind chills, but for the most part cold is no longer a deterrent to an outdoor run.

I used to be content being a weather wimp. I was pretty honest with myself about it and knew what my limits were, and I tried to keep my complaints to a minimum as long as I wasn't forced to brave the elements. My husband got me a treadmill for my birthday a few years ago, and I was grateful to have a nice climate-controlled place to run on my wimpy days. I still appreciate having that option, but I don't think I will need it nearly as much as I once did.

Being less wimpy about weather has its benefits. For one, it makes me feel awesome, like I'm overcoming huge obstacles just by pushing myself out the door. I feel tough. For a moment, I might even feel invincible! Second, I think it will better prepare me for any races I choose to run in the future. The thing is, you can't control the conditions on race day. You might choose to train only on sunny, dry, moderate days, but you could wake up on race day to a cold rain or a heat wave. If you're already accustomed to running in a variety of conditions, some of them unpleasant, then the weather shouldn't throw you off your game even if it's not what you expected it would be.

Of course, it remains to be seen if the progress I've made with extreme cold will also translate to extreme heat. My wimpiness might rear its ugly head again this summer as the mercury rises. I hope it won't though, because I really like the idea of shedding one of my many weaknesses. I'd really like to think I'm making strides toward becoming a stronger person all around, and this is just the beginning.

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