You know those crazy people you see out in blizzards, running tights on, headlamps blaring? Most people think they are insane. But not me. That's because I am one of them.
There are few pleasures in life lovelier than running in extreme weather. There is something about crazy weather that pushes my running to the extreme. Once you are drenched or covered in snow, not much else matters.
I've always been a firm believer in the notion that working out outside is a four seasons kind of activity. While others bring their workouts inside around November (or abandon their routines altogether), I have always clambered over ice and snow in order to keep my running off the "dreadmill."
It isn't all bad. The treadmill can be a great way to get your winter workout, but no one who really loves running would ever say it was superior to running outside. And that is probably why my ankle is currently broken.
Winter running has its drawbacks. For one, it's cold. Very cold. But a hat and gloves combat that nicely, and by the time you are a mile in, the cold isn't a factor anyway. For two, it can be slippery. Not always. But when it's slippery, it's treacherous.
Last winter, I trained for a full marathon and ran a half in February in 1:45. The conditions weren't ideal, but it's possible. I thought I could do the same this winter. This is the reason I'm now in a cast, awaiting an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to determine whether I need surgery.
My ankle is broken (fractured, actually), and what sucks the most (besides not being able to do my beloved daily five-milers) is the gloating.
It all started the night I did it (last Thursday) when I was hysterical over my rapidly swelling ankle and what it might mean for my training (I am trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon by running a 3:40 marathon this year), and my husband was about as unsympathetic as he could be.
"Take a cab to the ER," he told me. Given I was A.) unable to move and B.) close to incoherent, that wasn't going to work. Eventually he relented and felt pretty bad after he learned my ankle wasn't "just sprained," but actually fractured. Still, he hasn't missed an opportunity to point out the ways this injury is my own fault.
I was out running at night just after a snowstorm, it's true. In my defense, I was working very hard all day and wouldn't have been able to run at all if I hadn't run then. Additionally, I removed the Yak Trax (special devices that fit over the shoes to make them better on ice) from my shoes because they were causing my knee pain and the spot where I did my impressive nosedive into a snow bank was actually not covered in ice. As I recall, my ankle was tired from the other ice running and gave out on its own.
Some (like my husband) might say my decision was stupid, but it takes me 40 minutes to run five miles from my house. If I went to the gym, the whole outing would take about 90 minutes with commuting time. I don't have that extra 50 minutes. I have run every winter for the past five years with little incident, so one major injury in five years is hardly a bad track record.
Being injured sucks for anyone, but for a runner, we're forced to give up the very thing that makes us sane. Maybe only another runner can understand what compelled me to take that run or what compels me to count down the weeks (days?) until I can run again, but I hope not.
I would hope that people could look at an injury like mine and accept that even though they might not have that same level of crazy love for the sport, that it isn't actually insanity that drove me outside to run. I may be injured now, but I will get better (and I will work out using the hand bike until then). In the end, even with injuries, running makes me overall a healthier person than my husband who only works out once or twice a week.
So, who is the crazy one?