It felt colder than I expected. I was wearing a t-shirt, a long sleeve shirt and a windbreaker. On the bottom, I had shorts, Lycra pants and wind pants. Gloves and a hat covered the upper extremities. I was still cold because the wind was bringing the windchill temperature down much lower than the grey sky would indicate.
While the freezing wind was piercing through my upper body, I could not help but think of the warm treadmill situated in the basement of the house. I realized I was no longer the tough runner of my youth that had no fear of facing howling winds in -20 degrees Celsius with snow accumulating on my eye lashes. No, I was now treadmill soft.
Yet here I was in sub-zero temperatures enjoying a 10 km run. I pondered on what would keep me from running outdoors and get me to stay in the comfort of my home.
Extreme cold temperatures
The outside temperature does not normally impede me from getting out the door in winter and complete a run. After all, you simply need to layer up and wear a face cover. However, when the temperature dips below -15 C, I find the running experience rather unpleasant now. If there is a wind that brings a windchill, I find it even less desirable.
A few years ago, on a warm summer day, as I was skipping my run because I needed to keep company with a visitor, my wife was planning her run. A few minutes before her expected departure, it started to rain. My friend and I encouraged my wife to go out anyway. She was not totally convinced, but she left anyway. Within minutes, we could hear the rolling thunder and the rain started pouring from the sky. Soon after, my spouse, drenched as a rat, walked through the door with an annoyed look on her face; the kind of look that says: “Why did you encourage me to go out there in this crazy weather?”
I actually don’t mind running in torrential downpours on a hot summer day, but as soon as there is lightning, I will not go out. Moreover, if the rain is accompanied by cold temperatures, I will resort to running indoors. There is nothing worst than being cold and wet.
When we were training for the 1997 Boston Marathon, my spouse and I used to go out in the snowy and cold January days to complete our 16 to 32 km runs. We were quite fearless then. One week, as the temperature hovered around the freezing point for a few days, the precipitation started coming down as freezing rain. On the Saturday, we attempted to complete our 16 km run, only to return within 5 minutes as we were slipping and sliding all over the place.
We were dedicated to our training and to run our first Boston Marathon, so we did not want to miss any training runs, especially long ones. That Saturday afternoon, we went out and bought our first treadmill. The challenging part of the purchase was to determine where we were going to locate this training device. At the time, we were living in a one-bedroom apartment on the 15th floor. The only place to put the treadmill was in the small living room against the patio door and windows. We installed a very thick cushioned mat underneath so as not to annoy our neighbors. This treadmill became our savior that icy winter.
Running at night can be peaceful and even magical if you encounter a clear sky and a full moon. However, when darkness arrives before dinner time and there is a chill in the air, my resolution often fails me after a long day at work. On those evenings, I find it easier to simply lace up my running shoes, walk down to the basement, turn on the television to YouTube or Netflix and let the treadmill dictate my run.
I enjoy running outdoors with the feeling of fresh air on my face, however, I now lack the toughness to battle the elements. I have now become treadmill soft.