Monday, 1 April 2013

Winter Training Reflections

There is definitely a little more meaning in the knowing nod or wave from a fellow runner in the winter months. The eyes betray the discipline and determination required to maintain a training regimen in cold weather. Focused. Singular. Abrupt even. But, if you look deeper, in that split second of eye contact, there is respect, camaraderie and kinship.

With my next marathon set for late May in Ottawa, eight weeks from now, I have been reflecting a great deal on the last few months of training. I competed in the Around the Bay road race in late March (30k-Hamilton, Ontario). That race signals the end of winter and the start of spring for me.

Training through the winter in Southern Ontario, definitely has its challenges. Weather being the biggest of them. Cold temperatures are a given. It is the unpredictable mix of snow, sleet and rain that brings questions of sanity to the forefront of ones mind. But, I'm not alone. I'll cross paths with another person.

I assume they know what I know. I can see it in their eyes. The outdoors can be very majestic when not over populated by humans. Some of the best runs I have ever had were in the dead of winter. The roads and trails are nearly deserted. Many times I have come across deer on a snow covered forest path and marveled at how silently they go about their business. Other times, when the snow is fresh and the sky is grey, running on a country road can feel like entering a living charcoal sketch, where the only colours are black and white and the shades between. Then there are times when the air is cold and crisp. The ground is dry and hard. The sun is blinding, and the sky is the most amazing bright blue, a blue very different from the rest of the year. So different from spring, summer and fall that you forget all about it until the next winter sighting. I see all of this in that split second of recognition.

Rather than use the weather as a crutch or an excuse, I try to embrace it and enjoy all it has to offer. It's nice to know there are others who feel the same. There is no better feeling than standing in a hot shower, with a recovery smoothie, taking stock of that days run. The sense of accomplishment and the refocusing on work still to be done is invaluable, and is what keeps me coming back for more.

That, and the knowing glance.


  1. Great post, Brad. I particularly liked the part about entering a living charcoal sketch. Congratulations on your Around the Bay race time and all of your hard work. Although I don't exercise outside in the winter (yet), Sean did this year, so I've forwarded your post to him—he's training for his first marathon! He'll be running at the end of June in Duluth, MN. Good luck (not that you need luck) on your May marathon!

  2. I second that, Piper. Well written. I found thoughts in common in your words, too.

    I didn't expect to like running in sub-zero temps before sunrise. Turns out - I love it. I'll love it even more once I've got my over-use injuries licked.

    You're part of many of the best running memories I have. I look forward to the day we get to run together again. Just like old times. I'll stop there before I make myself weep :)

  3. Thanks for the kind words you guys! Glad this resonated. Shannon, running is just hiking at a slightly faster pace! Great to hear your back on the horse Sean. Maybe we can tackle a race together in the future as we have so many times in the past. Good luck in June!