This week, I thought I would post my thoughts on running attire. This episode of “Runner vs. Vermont Winter” begins with a strange and troubling sight I observed about a week ago on my (post-run) walk to work.
While traversing the Winooski bridge donning my six layers, long socks and thick scarf as it was approximately five degrees below zero and who knows how cold factoring in the wind chill, I looked up to see a fellow runner traveling in the opposite direction. He looked calm, determined, methodical, experienced. But something about him struck me. This man was braving the Arctic chill... in short shorts.
Having run earlier that morning under the safe cover of my thickest tights and most impermeable wind gear, which by the way did barely enough to prevent me from returning with legs beet-red and numb from the cold, I was immediately concerned for my comrade’s safety. In fact, I was horrified.
Wouldn’t he get hypothermia? Or frostbite?? I heard somewhere (in all honesty, probably Grey’s Anatomy) that sometimes frostbite can result in the loss of limbs...
LIMBS. Legs are limbs. What if he lost his legs, the things that make him run, and all because of the cold?!
What if he just didn’t own tights? Should I run back to my house, chase him down, and offer him a pair of mine?? I wouldn’t be that late for work...
And so continued my bewildered, dramatic thought process.
Now, I’m from outside of Buffalo, New York. I’ve lived there, and in Vermont. That’s the kind of climate I’m used to. I am no stranger to the cold. But this guy, short shorts guy, was a whole new level of winter warrior. As the panic subsided, I realized: he probably wasn’t crazy. Or losing his limbs. Or suffering (I mean, he’s running, so he’s suffering a little, but don’t we all?). He just wasn’t me.
Runners, it turns out, are like snowflakes. Cliché, yes. Clichés are clichés for a reason, people. Personally, in a time of the year when I’m literally cold ALL the time, when I run I would prefer to be sweaty and carrying a jacket tied around my waist over being a mobile icicle. I’ve learned from experience the amount of clothing I need to wear to keep me at what I consider a comfortable temperature depending on the conditions outside.
Lately, for instance, I’ve discovered that even if it’s 0 degrees out there, if the sun is shining and I’m running for more than an hour, my all-black face mask will freeze, then unfreeze, and leave my face dripping in condensation by the time I’m finished; therefore, in this particular circumstance, I should opt for just the headband and save myself the breath-shower. However, a little shorter run or no sunshine would make the mask a must. It’s a complex formula. And that’s just me.
My point here is that it’s easy to define running through our own ice-laced eyelashes, but we never really know what another runner’s outlook is. This complex formula I mentioned has different variables for each individual.
So maybe the day that I was all bundled up was the day that short-shorts guy said, “You know what? I’m only going for a short run and my legs are as hot-blooded as King Kong. Plus, it’s laundry day and -5 isn’t that bad by my standards. I’ll throw on a hat, I guess.” And that was perfectly fine for him! Which, if you ask me, is all at once insane and beautiful. Just think, the thousands of people running with us on May 24th... they’re all different, too. They’ve all got their own thing going with running. And that’s really something.
This week I’ve been focusing on where I want to be a few months out from the marathon. Building on the base I’ve established, I’m trying to increase my capacity for longer runs steadily but gradually. Last week, my longest run was about 80 minutes. Ultimately, I’m going to need to be able to keep going for about 4 hours... 240 minutes, or 3 of last week’s long run, back to back. So in the next three to four weeks, my hope is to hit the 2 hour mark for my new longest run since I began training. I’m very excited to be meeting with my coach, Kim Loeffler from On Track Health, for the first time this week to see what advice she has for me as my training progresses.
It’s time to hit the pavement (or the ice, as it may be--I’ve day-dreamt recently about how cool it would be to run all the way across the frozen lake to Plattsburgh...) so until next week, happy training, everyone!