Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Autumn Running - The Pros and Con

The days are getting cooler. The nights are getting longer. And my happiness quotient is definitely increasing.

I know a lot of people who don't like winter. They don't like the cold. They don't like the long days. They just want to hibernate until it starts to warm up again.

That's a little like I feel in summer. The heat just sucks my energy away and ideally I'd just like to lie somewhere cool with an icy drink until it passes.

But life doesn't let you just hide away for three or four months. There are things that just have to get done. Workouts that need to be ticked off. And so every year in about October I put on my big girl pants, harden up and resign myself to getting sweaty and smelly.

The world keeps turning and by April the weather starts to become a little kinder and all those sweaty hours start to pay off.

But I don't mind it being dark. I quite like getting up when no one else in the house is awake, except Toby and even he doesn't get off the couch to greet me before 5:00am.

It's not even light yet! 

There are just so many benefits to running in the cooler months. (disclaimer: it never gets ridiculously cold here and it never snows)

It's just easier on your body not having to get rid of all that excess heat. Your heart rate will be lower and you don't have to sweat quite as much. All your energy can go into the workout rather than having to keep a little aside to stop your internal organs from cooking.

It's great to be able to see the sun come up. Nothing beats watching the sunrise over a river or from a mountain. Watching the first rays of light reflect golden off the high rises. Marvelling at the pinks, purples and oranges that are painted across the sky. Seeing the city buildings in silhouetted relief against a daily ever-changing masterpiece. It always fills my spirit and lifts me.

It's way easier to use bush toilets in suburban areas under the cover of darkness. That one's an important one for me. I feel so much less self-conscious bush diving when it's dark. I also feel more alone (on my non-squad runs) and that's important for me coming from a household filled with four males and fairly regular female visitors.

You will feel virtuous and superior to the majority of the population for having done the hard yards in conditions that most people use as an excuse not to work out. This allows you to brag gratuitously but subtly in conversations with strangers, friends and family. I find that people are totally impressed when you start a conversation with "When I was out running my 20ker this morning at 5:00am in four degree temperature and gale force winds ..." That glazed look in their eyes is just them processing your complete and utter awesomeness.

In fact I can only think of one down side to getting up in the dark to get in some kilometres. And that would be trying to get around the house without waking up the family. For me this usually involves using minimal lighting and having my running clothes laid out on the dining table. Because of the minimal lighting thing, I have a tendency to bump into or trip over stuff. The bumping into furniture part is probably inexcusable being that we have lived in this house for 26 years and haven't moved our furniture around for most of those 26 years. My theory is that I lose track of my actual dimensions in the dark and think my hips are smaller than they are. So to counteract the threat of bruising I walk around at shuffle pace with one arm out in front of me acting like an antenna.

The tripping over part I blame totally on Toby. Having a one year old golden retriever is like having an untidy toddler. Toby is a dog who loves toys but hasn't yet learnt to tidy them away.

Ted is his favourite. Ted is usually carried around and shown to any person who comes through our gate. Ted is also the result of grand larceny - stolen off Josh's bed and re-stolen any time that Josh has tried to retrieve it. Josh has now surrendered Ted into Toby's loving care, knowing he will be well cared for.

But Ted also gets left in places where you wouldn't expect him. And the other morning while I was shuffling/stumbling my way around the dark kitchen I found him. With my foot. And he felt remarkably like a dead rat.

It's amazing just how well you run after you've had a near-rat experience. 

So even the only negative of getting up in the dark to run has a silver lining.

What season do you most like to run in?


  1. I love this time of year too. It is getting a little chilly on the bike but nothing I can't handle with the right gear. The only downside is that I've had 3 punctures in as many days as I cannot see where I'm going as well!

  2. So glad the conditions are improving for you. I'd say fall is best here. Spring so far has been cold, raw and windy. Summer is way to hot.

  3. Springtime in the Rockies = spring blizzards and we're on our umpteenth snow storm and school was cancelled today - APRIL FREAKING 9th!! I don't necessarily like being hot either in summer, and thankfully Colorado doesn't have humidity, but ugh, I am OVER snow. I like fall best, too...but it only means that snow is soon on the way. If you can't tell, I hate winter :). I know why old people flock to Florida in the winter now! :)

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  5. Give me the summer and the long days, running on Table Mountain in the evening as the sun goes down.

    Wait what about those winter morning fighting the winter storms... The rain driving in at right angles to the ground,, knee deep in riveres that once were paths, OK winter can be fun.

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  7. NEVER!

    I love your running / toilet stories. They make me feel better about some of my near-misses (and other's I won't mention!).

    I love winter as well. I love rugging up. I hate summer. I sweat a lot anyway so summer's horrendous for me!

  8. I can really relate to a lot of the things you discuss on this blog. However, weather will always be the exception. I'm sure I would hate running in very high temperatures, but I've never had the chance to find out. Looking forward to summer in the UK!

  9. I love running in the cooler months and in the dark. And I know perfectly that running friends who live in Sweden or Canada don't think so :)
    With high temperatures I don't run any race: I only try to maintain the running shape.
    Nice picture of Toby, as usual :)

  10. I'm a summer girl!!
    Funny - I referenced you (sort-of) yesterday when I was subbing 5th grade. I was explaining how the seasons were different in other countries than they are here - the kids couldn't even imagine Christmas being during the summer!! I told them that in Australia, as we are finally having spring, y'all are having fall - blew them away!!!

  11. I prefer Autum and Spring. And if I háve to choose I prefer cold over heat.

  12. I'm a mixture b/c while I hate to race in heat, i like to train in it. I just like warmer weather all around. But on the training front, I don't know--I just feel badass when I can manage the hot runs. Stupid, I know!

  13. I'm a winter person. I love the cold and enjoy the cold, dark mornings when everyone else is to cold to move. I thrive in the winter.

  14. Im so jealous of your winters! As well as having to save some energy to cool in humid summers, we also have to conserve energies to warm in the -20 C winter days! Enjoy your cooler days while ours heat up!

  15. Since I've always live in the South/West of the US, I've never really had to contend with harsh winters. Southern California is moderate all year long, so I rarely have an excuse to skip a run because of weather (darn!). I just don't know how people do it up north - my hat goes off to anyone who can make themselves get up and run when it is freezing outside!

  16. I think Toby's love of stuffed animals is so darn cute and so funny! I love fall the best. It is gorgeous here and I love the cooler temps.

  17. I like to run year around...but I do love the summer the most. I think it's so funny that we're heading into spring and you're on to winter...enjoy this transition!

  18. If we had winters like yours, I'd enjoy running in winter, I think. But I always liked the summer here much better - but we have pretty mild summers.

  19. I love running in cooler weather and am dreading the 21st being anything over 10ºC.

    I so know the shuffle .... I generally don't actually open my eyes for about the first 20 minutes of being up so do that anytime of the year.

    Toby has incredible restraint not destuffing Ted - my two would have destroyed him.


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