The Darkness comes early. The Cold clings. Sound ominous? It should. Winter running is ominous.
How do you get up and run in the morning during the Winter? They ask. Don’t they? How do you crawl out and run in this…weather? They ask. They ask. They ask. It’s so cold outside.
Cold, lonely roads. So dark. Those streetlights never really light the sidewalk the way we want do they? So we hug the curb, just off the roads crown. Every passing car heading towards you blinds and every car heading with you seems to get too damn close on those Winter mornings. The special ordered tights can’t keep out those hard icy roped winds. That chill hangs on to your insides like an Amazonian Candiru. And Slush. Awful. It’s not snow. Snow is beautiful. You can run and slip and slide all over some freshly fallen snow and not get too bitter about the run. Grey dirty slush just lies there waiting to attack your warm and dry shoes, waiting to satiate your suddenly thirsty cotton sock. Winter running is slush.
And those first moments after the alarm blazes, horrifying. Blackness except for those red coal numbers harassing you from the clock. No birds singing. They left months ago for sunnier, kinder confines. We’re left with the sounds of an occasional passing car…driving through slush.
How can one get up, out of bed and leave the womblike warmth of the now, finally, perfectly placed bed covers to run? Outside? Even the feet, both of them, are ensconced. Yes, ensconced, your feet are warmly ensconced.
How do we get up, and out, and run in the Winter?
They do, truly, want to know. They ask because they don’t understand. Because they don’t understand they ask the wrong question.
Why do we get up and run during the Winter? That is the question! Not how? How is sterile. How is a series of steps that offer no depth or passion behind the movements. Why?
The correct question should lead to a clearer answer. right? Can we explain ourselves? Can’t we?
We can try.
I’ve found when trying to explain running as with running itself coming close sometimes has to be enough.
Why do we run in the Winter?
Because while everything around us, the trees, the grass, the bugs, the leaves, is dead or sleeping, we remember we are alive and awake.
Because breathing cold hard air hurts and purifies us deep inside.
Because slipping and falling is part of the gig.
Because slipping and almost falling is a glorious victory and a reminder that we can still escape disaster from time to time.
Because the hot shower feels better on chilled skin.
Because a coffee or hot chocolate will blaze more.
Because we like being asked this question.
Because we like the battle against the elements, and the dark, and the battle within ourselves. We tempt and taunt and curse ourselves most of those mornings, don’t we? It’s not easy. It never is. Not even in the beautiful Spring or perfect Summer or glorious Autumn is it ever really easy. But, it’s really not easy in Winter. The personal victory of getting that run in, that conquest over ourselves, that better, stronger person we become when we do hit the roads in Winter, well, that is why.
That and all the rest that I can’t describe or remember or have not experienced yet. That and all the rest. That’s why.
So, as I get ready to fall into bed and collapse into sleep, as I get ready to embrace the warmth and solace of a Winter nights sleep I can’t help but shiver a little, no, alot, thinking about tomorrow morning’s mean, nasty run. It’s waiting for me, for you. Ominously.