We all know it is coming. The winter. The cold. The snow and ice. We all know that going outside will often be painful, even when we are fully bundled. We know that it could also be dangerous to run in such conditions: the ice, the darkness, the bitter cold — all could wreak havoc on your body.

But right now, it is beautiful. Right now, it is the perfect temperature for a leisurely run in the park with a friend. It is the perfect time to stop at the lake and watch the ducks with the kids. It is the perfect time to savor the fact that this is something you can do now.

Every time I have been running this past month, it has felt like something to hold on to, to remember, to internalize. Not necessarily the movement of running, or even the feeling of accomplishment I get from doing it. It’s the feeling of being outside in this beautiful world that is so filling to me. If there is ever a day in which we are homebound for one reason or another, I feel like I’m being ungrateful. Like I’m not fully partaking of the bountiful harvest of health and strength and family time and beautiful world that is right here for me to enjoy.

I especially feel that way knowing that it will be harder in the coming months to get out for a run, and it will be harder to push through it with cold fingers and toes, avoiding ice, jumping over (or into) slushy puddles at crosswalks.

I also know that there are likely to be “winters” in my own life as well. Right now I am probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in, but that may not always be possible. Anything could happen to prevent me from running as freely as I do now. Poor health, accident, injury, additional stresses or responsibilities.

I hope that if/when those times come, I can look back and say that I knew what I had when I had it. I took advantage and was grateful for every day, every early morning, every speed workout, every rainy tempo run. And I hope you are able to find something to be grateful for in your running (and life), too — whether it be the beautiful leaves, the fact that you can run after injury/illness/pregnancy, the knowledge that this is you last chance before the painfully cold weather deters your every step, or just because you are taking the first steps in a long journey and it feels good to get started.

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