Spring Fever (or how a runner survives winter)

Spring is slowly trying to return to Iowa. For some, it’s saying goodbye to all the snow and ice; to runners, it’s saying hello to outdoor runs. Oh how I missed my outdoor runs. So the other day, when I heard that the lunchtime high temperature would be around 30 degrees, I threw my compression pants, long-sleeved shirt, and hoodie in my gym bag with the hope of getting an outdoor run in at lunchtime.

As I walked into the company’s wellness center, I was greeted by the usual runners that I see almost daily. “Looks like you’re going to have to wait a bit, the treadmills are full” I was told as I started to open my gym bag. “That’s ok” I replied. “I won’t be needing one today”. I started to put on my compression pants.

You could see it in their eyes; the knowing that someone is running outdoors. “You’re going outdoors?” they asked. “Yep” was all I said with a smile. A couple of them looked at their running clothes, shorts and tank tops, like a child looks in his lunch bag and finds the worst sandwich imaginable. They wanted to go too, to get out and enjoy the fresh air, the feel of the ground, the sights, even the traffic. Yet they were going to plod along the treadmill one more time while I ventured outside.

I finished dressing and headed out the main lobby doors to street level. The wind was brisk, so I pulled up my hoodie, started my Garmin and took off. What a wonderful feeling! It’s not that you forget how good it feels to be off the treadmill or indoor track and be out in nature, but that first outside run of the season always feels like it’s the very first run I’ve ever done. The cold wind, the water on the street, the inclines, even the start and stop of street intersections made me smile.

I made my way towards Gray’s Lake, and heard people honking their horns and waving. Probably fellow runners I imagined, and knew that soon they would be out here as well. Some people run no matter the weather; snow, ice, rain, sleet . . . it doesn’t matter. They are true diehards and I admire them, but while I will run in the cold, the snow and ice are hazards I try to avoid. The Vibrams I wear don’t handle the snow and ice as well and with no way to strap on ice cleats, I tend to stay indoors during most of the winter. If the path around the lake is clear, I will run there but only if it’s pretty clear.

The run was a short one in distance, 5.7 miles, but it was large in boosting my excitement for the upcoming spring. I missed being outside, viewing nature and meeting fellow runners. This run helped me to see that the seasons were indeed changing, and that soon I would have the privilege of running outside any time I wanted to.

Before I knew it, I was back where I started. I went in, took a shower and went back to work. As I made my way to various floors, the runners from the gym stopped me and asked how the run went and how they planned to go outside tomorrow. Word must have travelled fast, because other runners would stop me, say they heard I ran outside, and then once they heard that I in fact did venture out for a run, started peppering me with questions. How was it? Was it cold? Are there ice patches, and where are they? These was the common thread of questions. It seemed everyone wanted off the treadmill as soon as possible.

This weekend’s weather is turning bad again, so tomorrow it’s back to the indoor track. But, spring is coming, I know it. I feel it. I’ve been outside, and it’s coming.

It’s going to be a wonderful running season!

Live happy, be healthy!


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