Sunday, January 24, 2010

Things I Hate: Running in Winter

What's the worst thing about winter may you ask? No, it's not shoveling and having your Latissimus Dorsi get the Devil's Massage (if you can't see that, it's SS's cramp chart) for three days. Nor is it scraping off your car in scrubs whose heat capacity is eclipsed by tissue paper. The worst thing about winter is trying to run in it. I love running, and I don't necessarily mind running in the cold, but winter offers a perfect storm of terrible that makes me want to curl up under my electric blanket until the vernal equinox.

The WORST part about winter running is how obscenely early the sun sets. I'm not one of those people who gets all bent out of shape for a week after daylight savings time, but I couldn't help but make a bulge-eyed cartoon face when I realized it was dark at 4pm. This leaves me with two unsavory options. One, succumb to the sun's sadistic schedule and get to work early, leave at 3:30 and drive like a bat out of hell to get home and changed in time. Or two, throw caution to the wind and try to run in the dark. More often than not I manage the former, but for the purposes of this blog post let me tell you that running in the dark is an adventure of Homeric proportions.

Running in the dark is akin to doing gymnastics in space. You may have mastered the fundamentals, but the rules as you know them don't apply anymore. To those of you who are thinking 'Shut up and buy a light', I say 'I have a light and you're being rude'. Running lights are NOT for path illumination, but are instead worn to draw attention to your person, so that when you are inevitably run over, your lawyer will have a good case (though you'll still be dead). Short of wearing a headlamp and looking like a spelunker, you are wholly at the mercy of street lighting. And there is no street lighting. As such, you evolve superhuman spatial awareness. I can now spot puddles/ice patches from 50 paces. Of course, I can't tell them apart and they are impossible to avoid. This leads to some sophisticated calculations regarding the angle of my feet on this ambiguous patch of water. In my experience, it is best to assume that everything is black ice. Otherwise, you will find yourself bleeding out on Mass Ave. and nobody needs to see that. Its also important not to panic in the event you find yourself slipping on the ice. Much like a car, you need to shift into a lower gear and try to ride it out. Sudden movements will only accelerate your fall and may result in unnecessary collateral damage (sorry SS).

In addition to the danger of PLOWED terrain, there is also the matter of those who cannot be bothered to do their civic duty and shovel their sidewalks at all. In this situation, you will play human Frogger. You will also make a mental note of the address for egging purposes. You will also forget all of this five seconds later when you are sideswiped by a Corolla. Don't say I didn't warn you. What I'm trying to say here is that running in the dark, on ice, and sometimes in the road is a foolhardy idea, and you would be wise to join a gym from December to March if you value your body in its current state of 'not-dead'.


  1. I love this post, great links and references. One note, you are a baby. Man-up and do gymnastics in space. You do become super-aware after a while and more importantly, you learn to live with the risk of death (from running at night). Learning to live with this risk helps in normal life too.

  2. And you call yourself a New Englander...

  3. Mike's more of a Mary-lander (get it?!!)

  4. you are offending both me AND your girlfriend with your insinuations