Is it sad that when I walk into my basement to grab something from my training gear room that I near always take a moment to pause at my Yak Trax and smile, darn near wistfully dreaming of the first snowy run?
One of my favorite things about running is that it is so raw, so connected to the world around. When running in spring I spend my runs avoiding puddles and muddy patches, in an effort to not slip or drench my feet in water. When running in the summer I favor shaded trails and nature paths to run, offering a varied view of my city and this State, but also offering a small reprieve from the sun. This also allows me to feel like one "bad ass" runner because I find myself flying down the descents and jumping over fallen trees and exposed roots. When running in the fall I make it a point to crunch as many leaves as possible, breathing in deeply the rich smell of autumn. However, I feel the most connected to running in the winter.
When running in winter I take a certain pride in making the very first running tracks in the freshly laid snow. It is only better if there is a slight cracking noise made by breaking through the crunchiest of snow. I love the crunchy snow and slick ice patches, for it means that I get to break out the Yak Trax and produce the unmistakable foot prints of a pioneer runner; the runner hitting the snowy sidewalks and trails before anyone else has had a chance to disturb the perfect blanket of snow.
I first realized that I may have an attachment to this pioneer runner idea when upon going out for an early morning run two winters ago (when we had some real snowfall) I was disappointed that I saw other tracks. Sadly, I was not the first. Someone, with their dog, had blazed the path ahead of me that morning. I would not give them the opportunity to do it again and so the next morning I set out even earlier, returning victorious in my quest to be the first; the pioneer runner of that day.
Why all this talk of winter running? I just so happened to stumble upon the 2012 Holiday Runner's World Running Streak Challenge today which runs from tomorrow (Thanksgiving here in the US) through New Year's Day. After a long season both in length and distance, I like the idea of doing something shorter and more consistent. I also have wanted to reconnect with my running roots in the hope of rekindling that excited spirit I once had, when a run was a run and not a workout to be executed. When I was out connecting with my city at a worm's eye view level. Mostly though, it is because this is going to bring me back to my snowy pioneering ways. I cannot wait to hear the crunches of the leaves, to inhale the smells of burning and rotting leaves, the smell of the earthy, musty fall of Pure Michigan and then to have it all wiped clean with the sterile and PERFECT first snow fall of winter. My lungs are burning already!
I will not be tracking my daily progress on this blog, although I will be using my Twitter account to update with the hash tag #RWRunStreak. If I can complete an Ironman with a smile on my face the whole way, I am sure that I can run an easy mile or more every day for the next month plus. How about you? If you are not a runner, try walking every day or doing yoga every day, or something you love every day. Have no fear in starting! Go ahead... plant that seed.
You can find the information on the running streak challenge at the link below:
The 2012 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak | Runner's World & Running Times