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Am I actually daydreaming about winter running? Let’s correct this.

07/29/2010

After a few solid days of more humane humidity, we were back up above 80% this morning, which has sent me cartwheeling into delusional daydreams about cold-weather running and how absolutely lovely it is.

I’m ready to step out the door and see my breath on the air.

I want to wear Underarmour!

And fleece mini-gloves!

And those little ear-cover hat things, whatever they’re called (what the heck are these called?)

My official name for it is "ear warmer thingy."

Apparently I’m suffering a serious bout of amnesia about how freaking cold winter can get, so now might be the perfect time to count my summer run blessings. Even if I’m slower, sweatier, quick to dehydrate and even quicker to complain about it, there is a soft spot in my heart for the simplicity that summer running offers.

To review:

Summer running attire. Shirt and shorts? Check. Life is good when you don’t have to worry about extra layers this and woolen caps that.

 Why it’s better than winter: Gloves, hats, yaktrax, gaiters, layers, all kinds of fancy reflective spandex so that silly motorists ignoring the weather don’t hit you… it’s too easy to get your attire volume wrong: Overestimate, and you may end up looking like some kind of jogging gypsy with shirts tied everywhere and flapping around, gloves or hats tucked into your long spandex like weird little tumors. Underestimate, and 40 minutes into your long run, you’ll have warmed up and consequently worked up a sweat that’ll get deadly once your body temperature tries to get into equilibrium with the task and cool you back down. Getting caught without that extra layer on a long run makes for misery.

Summer air. Humid and often pollen-laden. Breezes welcome, but few and far between.

Why it’s better than winter: I’ll be honest, the humidity has been destroying me this summer. But in comparison, there’s something particularly lung-freezing about running in air that is eight degrees. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s eight degrees. Throw in sub-zero wind chills and you’re in for a nice time. My chest aches for hours after these runs.

Summer facial aesthetics. It doesn’t matter that I wear a hat and 70 SPF sunscreen religiously: I have a perpetual sunglasses tan in the summer.

Why it’s better than winter: Shall we revisit the “wind chill” thing? Winter equals wind burn. Wind burn equals weird, red, gnarly, ruddy face PLUS sunglasses tan. In the name of vanity, this is uncool.

Summer weather-related terrain concerns. Are there any weather-related terrain concerns unique to summer running? Let me know if you think of any, especially if they’re clever, because I can’t.

Why it’s better than winter: Is trying to run on icy roads ever fun? No. Even though the cooler temperatures theoretically help speed me up, ice slows me down. I fall sometimes, which looks foolish, and the foolishness is compounded because I’m dressed up like a combination bank robber-Power Ranger. I run cautiously. I occasionally observe car accidents. Oh yes, and snow! I’m a Yaktrax devotee, so I can deal gamely with snow to an extent, but too much ice, too much snow, too much chest-killing wind-chill, and I end up submitting to my rational inner-pansy and staying inside.

Summer light. You don’t have to spend much time running in the dark in the summer, unless you want to.

Why it’s better than winter: Maybe you live at the equator and are exempt from this particular issue (and, while we’re at it, all aforementioned winter issues), but if you work a job with standard hours, you’re running in the dark in the winter. This gets tough for me. Run before work? Oops, wait, it’s still dark. Run after work? Sorry, it’s already getting dark. Which means I either run on well-lit main roads (more familiarly-known as concrete sidewalks), or really ramp up the awesome in my attire by adding a headlamp.

I suppose my point here is that — despite my daydreams — winter weather sends me all too often to the treadmill. I admire people who frequently manage productive runs on ice and in the dark with an aching chest, but I’m not always one of those people. So now that I’ve reminded myself of a few glitches with winter running, maybe it will be easier to kick back and enjoy the rest of my hot, sweaty summer runs. Especially knowing that fall – champion season of running conditions, by my measures – is on the way.

What’s your favorite running season? I’m a fall girl all the way. I’d assume this is an obvious choice for most runners, but I’m interested to hear other thoughts.

The extremes of summer vs. winter running: which one wins out for you? They both have their pros and cons, but at least they shake things up. I think I’d get bored running in an area without a generous helping of seasonal variation.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    07/29/2010 16:18

    I prefer the winter! You can always dress warmer in the winter, but you can’t dress cooler in the summer.

  2. 07/29/2010 16:23

    hahah i totally love the summer. i’m so cold intolerant that i probably should move below the mason dixon line!

  3. 07/30/2010 00:42

    I am sure there is some degree of grass-is-greener happening here, but I would seriously KILL for 30 degrees right now. This heat and humidity is killing me. And adding a minute per mile to my normal running pace. Ugh.

  4. 07/30/2010 16:11

    I actually like summer running better than winter. Isn’t that crazy? I mean, “winter” here just means I put on a long-sleeved t-shirt and maybe some gloves when it gets “really cold.”

    • 07/31/2010 13:33

      Ha, awesome. ‘Long-sleeved t-shirt’ is possibly my favorite running weather. I was spoiled living in the south this past year. Winter definitely happened, but for not nearly as long as I’m used to, and without it’s typical northern ice/snowstorm theatrics.

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