I’ve been a runner on and off since my teen years, and this winter I’ve gotten back into it a lot. Like thinking-of-training-for-a-half-marathon a lot. One day last week I found myself looking out the window at a day that was windy, cold, wet and wintry, wondering if it was windy enough to blow a tree branch down on my head while I was running through the woods. I decided it was safe and was soon huffing and puffing up the trail, picking my way around rocks, stumps, tree roots and logs that trail-keepers have pulled across the trail to discourage motorbikers from riding there.
Why do I do this? Some days it certainly doesn’t look like it makes sense. For many years I was a fair-weather runner who only went out in the spring and summer, but now I go running every few days because:
1. Running brings me back into my body. I have a strong tendency to live in my head, whiling away the hours daydreaming or thinking or creating or reading. This was kept in check for a while when my kids were very small, because their need for physical closeness and comfort brought me back into my body on a regular basis. Now they don’t come to check in and cuddle as often, and I’m stuck in my head more. Running puts my body at the front of my awareness, and that’s a good thing.
2. Running puts me in control. I used to take Zumba classes in the winter instead of running, preferring to dance in a warm, dry school gym to Latin music and learn steps like the Samba. It was totally fun for a while, but then I got bored of the repetitive dance sequences and the directive nature of a teacher/class situation. At $8 a pop it was starting to get expensive too. When I run I get to choose when I go fast or when I take a rest. I like that.
3. Running gets me outside. I live on a beautiful island and do not take advantage of the outdoors as much as I should, especially in the winter when the girls want to sit inside next to the wood stove and play, create and read all day. I’ve run past a deer eating lichen off a huge boulder, rushing streams, a yard full of beautiful chickens, and the most amazing rainforest, all of which is right outside my door for me to enjoy.
4. Running keeps me from going crazy. Maybe it’s the endorphins, or the oxygen, or the solitude, or just getting all that energy out in a productive way instead of letting it build up forever, but regular, strenuous exercise keeps me happy. And we all know that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. I really run for the health and happiness of everyone else. I’m so altruistic!
5. Just because I can. Because I have two strong legs and a healthy heart. Because the girls are old enough to engage in their own play or projects while Tom works from home without causing him undue distraction. Because it meets my needs for physical exertion and challenge and self-care, and it doesn’t cost me anything.
Do you run (or ski, or snowshoe, or kayak, or walk, etc) in the winter? Why do you do it?