Running in the cold


Dressing to go running outside on a winter day is a tricky thing.

You delay it as long as possible, triplechecking the forecast and adding extra minutes for digestion and water consumption. Better be safe, you know.

But eventually you run out of excuses and know that time will start to work against you - the sun will start it’s decent and temperatures will drop. So you do a closet inventory.

Shorts, leggings, sweats. Tank top, Short sleeve, long sleeve. Zip ups, sweatshirts, mittens, ear muffs.

I definitely need a coat. How cold is it really? Regardless, it’s way too cold to go off without a sweater of some kind.

Stepping outside doesn’t help, because barefoot feet tend to be overdramatic.

Today I decided on: Leggings. Long sleeve. Ear Warmers.

Before I have time to close the front door behind me, the wind rips right through - brushing against my stomach, making my arms feel naked. The wind totally called my bluff.

“You can’t do this. Why are you wasting your time.”

Thankfully, determination kicks in. Or experience. Or embarrassment at turning around too quickly. Feet shuffle forward, and before you know it, my sneakers are pitter-pattering a block away. Still cold, but at least the busy road is coming up, where the cars act as accountability.

“I wish I brought that extra sweater... Or some extra layer... What was I thinking?”

I wish it were there to keep me warm, or keep me company, or maybe a little bit of both. But it’s not there - and there’s nothing I can do about it. The only option is to turn around in defeat or keep moving forward. My legs don’t listen to the dialogue in my brain, they know better than to get involved in this debate. Oh gosh, my foot is numb, this is not supposed to happen. It’s supposed to get easier, not colder.

Can’t. Feel. My. Toes..... But that guy is wearing shorts! SHORTS! He is crazy. How could he run like that, in this? He was on the other side of the street so he didn’t see me glare at the way he made it look so easy.

Thankfully, there are plenty of distractions. Trees, houses, cars that whiz by and remind me of someone I used to know here or there... I think about driveways and the lack of scooters in them, I pass by an elementary school and get a little tense in light of recent events, I wonderwhy the elderly woman I passed didn’t wave back at me...

Eventually, I get to the place I both completely knew and totally doubted would come: the turnaround point. And there is sweat around my forehead, which feels refreshing instead of freezing. I push my sleeves up, feeling young and warm and free.

I think back to my jacket, hanging safe and sound in my closet at home. If it were alongside me, I’d have started resented it’s cozy fleece a long time ago - even though it would only be doing it’s job. But with running and with life, sometimes you have to put up with those initial moments of cold, discomfort, and fear... Sometimes you have to just start running, going against everything demanding you to huddle up on the couch with a blanket and a warm cup of tea. You have to leave what’s known and venture somewhere new. The jacket won’t save you either - you’ll just both end up feeling out of place, with it bouncing around, arms tied around your waist while you feel held back, weighed down.

Today I took off without the security blanket (or security sweater). And it kind of represents an entire season.

Now that I’ve started moving fast enough, I don’t need this jacket. Time to let it go, and figure out who I am without it. How will I use my arms, elbows, and hands without the coat to carry? What will I do with my free space and new energy?

Today, I’m still figuring it out. I know eventually, either the sun will start to set or I’ll get tired and I’ll need to find a new coat. But that time hasn’t come yet, and so for now, my focus is just to keep running.