This morning's practice was pretty chilly. At 5:30 the real temperature was in the low twenties and the windchill was in the low teens. I opted not to run yesterday, which was significantly colder, because the forecast projected a quick warm-up at the end of the week. I took my rest day yesterday and will run my workouts when it is a bit nicer over the next few days.
I won't deny that it is definitely easier to get my first foot out the door when the weather is warmer, but I am absolutely a firm believer in the idea that it is never too cold to run outside. Of course, now that I've said "never," I'm sure you could think of all sorts of scenarios involving outposts on the Arctic circle and places where the sun doesn't rise for six months of the year, but what I mean is: in the contiguous United States, I don't believe it is ever too cold to run outside. I just don't think it's a valid excuse to skip a workout. If I say "I can't run outside today because it is too cold" what I really mean is "I don't want to run outside today, and I will use the cold as an excuse." And what I should then say to myself is "Kelli, put on a wooly hat and get your butt outside."
And really, once I get out there and get moving, it's never so cold that I regret having done my workout. Today, for example, I wasn't even cold at all after about a half-mile. As long as I kept moving, I didn't even notice the temperature. It could have been 40 or 14. I just didn't think about it. (Of course, that could have also been due in part to the distractingly blistering pace of my group that I was killing myself to keep up with.)
I can only think of two runs that I have done ever where I actually remember being too cold. One was in college in Cleveland. I had organized a surprise birthday run for Steph in early December. She and I headed out the door for our run alone, but I had stationed some of our cross-country teammates along our planned route that we would "bump into" along the way so that our group kept growing and we ended up with a pack of about 15 people. That day the windchill was about 15 or 20 below zero and I almost cancelled the run. I remember being freezing cold even after a few miles and I remember that the bottom half of my face was so cold that I couldn't form words properly with my lips and I was talking funnily. But I also remember it being totally worth it and having a fantastic time.
The other time was last year in Indianapolis. I was training for the Indy 500 Mini Marathon, which is in May, so I had to drag myself out of bed through dark mornings in February and March. During a particularly cold period, the windchill was consistently around 20 below at 5:30 in the mornings, so I had wussed out a few days in a row. On this day I was mad at myself for skipping workouts, and I was bound and determined to run outside at all costs. This was the only run I have ever done with soccer socks on my arms/hands over my gloves. By the way, this was an awesomely effective idea that I highly suggest if you ever find yourself in the idiotic situation I was in on this morning. Although my hands and forearms were toasty warm, I didn't ever really feel warm for the entire run. I was still glad that I had gotten out there and done it and conquered a personal battle with wussiness.
I know I haven't begun to see the worst of this winter yet, and I have a feeling I will have to come back and read this post again myself a time or two in the coming months. Particularly the bit where I say to myself, "Kelli, put on a wooly hat and get your butt outside."