On Being Weatherproof

As a ballet dancer, my movement was not confined by the weather unless there was so much snow I couldn’t be driven to class or rehearsal. When I started coxing for my college boat club, I had my first brush with what Weather can do to a workout. Yes, Weather. Not just rain – sleet, snow, or ice. Often in Oxford it would somehow manage to be a combination of all four within a 4-hour period. In my first year of coxing, I suffered through multiple outings huddled in five layers of fleece topped with a rain jacket, gritting my teeth as precipitation pelted me and freezing as I sat still. Even the rowers had it better – at least they were moving. After that, I moved up to assigning the coxswains, and campaigned to schedule each week based solely on the expected conditions. I wasn’t one to dance in the rain, so why should I sit in it?

When I first started running, in the spring of 2013, it had been a long and dreary winter (I had no idea that a polar vortex was coming for us the following winter!) and being outside was one of the biggest perks. I honestly think I was able to get into running so quickly because I was tired of being cooped up indoors and just wanted to be out in the fresh air for longer and longer stretches of time. Even then, though, I skipped runs if it was raining. I still got out there 4 or 5 days every week. That continued for the initial months, until summer came. If I thought winter was cold, summer was HOT. That whole global warming thing is no joke, and it jolted me into rising early, just like I had during my coxing days, to beat the heat by running before I went to my summer internship.

 

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

One morning it was drizzling, and I decided to get outside anyway. I wouldn’t be wearing heavy clothes that got even heavier when soaked. Worth a shot. So I laced up and headed out. I realized it wasn’t so bad. And when the drizzle stopped and the clouds cleared, I was treated to a lovely rainbow ringing over the sun before I went back inside to shower and start my day. A switch had flipped. I didn’t really ease into running in Weather. When autumn arrived, I just kept wearing the baseball cap I’d worn in summer to keep the sun out – it keeps the rain off equally well. I ran right through my first real rainstorm in September getting ready for my first race.

 

 

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

When winter came? I just kept at it. I’ve always loved  the way snow turns our world into a winter wonderland – and running through it was better than rain! Ice held me up for a run or two until I figured out my tricks of the trade, and went dashing along happily through the frost. This past winter, I’ve only been kept inside once because of Weather (last year was about a week because of that pesky polar vortex!) Now, along the way, I’ve struggled to explain just why it’s worth it to me to get outside and on the run when it’s admittedly pretty awful out and most people would stay in on the couch with Netflix and cocoa. While my best friends are lovingly tolerant of my running-in-Weather habit, they don’t understand it. And casual acquaintances feel free to tell me I’m insane. I usually laugh it off, because the truth is, I get that it’s a little out of the ordinary. But to me, it isn’t crazy, because being outdoors and on the move is what makes me happiest. I’ve never regretted a single run, no matter how tricky or slippery it was.

 

But what was I supposed to call myself, if not a ‘crazy’ runner? I had no idea, until I found November Project. A group of people who get outside and wake up the sun with a workout no matter the weather. And I was finally able to describe myself – as #weatherproof. (NP loves hashtags, which I am still getting used to, because I am a Luddite.) The first morning I showed up was the first Wednesday of February and it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and there were easily 30+ people there ready to go. Last Wednesday was the first month-iversary of my coming to the workouts, and it also happened to be the 1st birthday of the New York City NP “Tribe” – so despite the snow and rain combining to create some sort of slush soup, 40 people came out to work out and celebrate. By running in circles around Carl Schurz Park through ankle-deep puddles of the slush soup.

It isn’t crazy, after all. It’s just being #weatherproof. (Please note that most of these people are way more badass than I am. I show up once a week or so, loving my slow solo runs on the other days. I’m an amateur athlete compared to most of NP!)

 

What do you think? Do you workout even in wild Weather?

 

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Waking Up for a Winter Workout

Although many people start off January with resolutions to exercise more and focus on healthy habits in the new year, winter doldrums can get in the way. When it’s cold and snowy (or sleeting, or icy, or just plain gray and gloomy) it can be tough to find the motivation to get up and moving.

Pretty but chilly!

Pretty but chilly!

 

I am one of those crazy runners who gets outdoors no matter the weather. Rain or shine, I can be found in the park or on the trail. I think there were 3 days in all of last winter when I went to the gym for a workout – and I still got in 4-5 runs every week! So far this winter, I’ve been able to keep it up, and haven’t been forced onto the dreadmill yet. But it took awhile for me to get into the habit, and even more time to enjoy the time I spend running outside in all kinds of conditions. So I thought I’d share a few tips to jump-start winter workouts!

 

...ready to hit the snowy streets!

…ready to hit the snowy streets!

 

First, make a habit of getting outdoors unless conditions are truly unsafe. Make a promise to yourself to get outside and have all the proper gear for winter weather set and ready to go in the morning. That way, when the alarm clock goes off, you’ll be more likely to get up and at ’em – after all, you’ve already prepared and won’t want to waste the effort!

 

 

 

Second, ensure you have enough time to get in a workout before your day begins, and treat the time you have as, well, a treat! I think of my run as something I ‘get’ to do before doing all the things for school and my internship (and eventually my job) that I ‘have’ to do. It’s a little thing, but the way you perceive it can make all the difference.

 

Breakfast at the ready

Breakfast at the ready

 

Third, have everything ready to go at your house or apartment for when you return – clothes for the day laid out, breakfast supplies ready and easy to assemble, and your bag packed so you can get back out the door quickly. This morning, my run was pretty chilly, but knowing I had a couple of Pumpkin Puffins and a mug of dark and sweet blueberry coffee at home kept me going!

 

 

 

 

Taking trail conditions in stride

Taking trail conditions in stride

Having a few friends to run with is another great option – I try to do my long runs when training for a race with a friend or two, and workout buddies can definitely keep you accountable. Personally, my motivation for running (like my motivation for most other things in life) tends to come from within. I’m not the type of person who likes to follow a set training plan to the letter (probably because I’m not really big on following directions…as evidenced by some of my cooking experiments!) But if you do better when you have a schedule to stick to, by all means use one. And even if you tend to march to your own beat like me, having just one workout every week with others to mix it up and keep you honest can be just what you need to shake out of the winter blues (I’m happy that a friend led me to the November Project for this reason!)

 

 

Last but not least, if you’re goal-oriented, signing up for a race every so often if you’re a runner, or setting specific bars for yourself to reach with other workouts, can be the perfect thing to spur you on. Just as I’m wound down from the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, it’s time to start getting in gear for my second New York City Half Marathon in March (also the second anniversary of my ‘real’ running!) After that, I’ll take a break from racing as law school ends and the bar exam approaches…but yesterday, I signed up to complete my Coast to Coast Challenge with a friend from school at Disneyland in September with the Dumbo Double Dare. It’s a perfect post-bar-exam celebration and dreaming of that magical run in the sun is sure to keep us both going during the shortest and coldest month of the year. So figure out what works for you, and get ready to wake up to a winter workout in wonderland!

 

 

Watching the sun rise over the East River is a lovely perk of a winter's morning workout!

Watching the sun rise over the East River is a lovely perk of a winter’s morning workout!

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.