Ron Marinucci February '23 Column: Winter Running

Ron Marinucci February '23 Column: Winter Running

Finally! It snowed! And snowed and snowed and snowed. All winter we’ve been hearing about milder temperatures and the dearth of the white stuff this season. Likely, other than skiers, snow-boarders, snow-shoers, and other outdoor winter enthusiasts, most people weren’t at all disappointed. I didn’t hear many complaints.

The snow the past week or so pretty much caught us up with the January average. Whoosh! For me it was welcome. I sounds a bit crazy, but I love to run in the snow and even to shovel it—and always have.

As a kid, I didn’t grouse (“Aw, Mom…..) when my mother made me shovel our elderly neighbors’ sidewalks and driveways—for no pay. I sometimes still do that, for fun. Shoveling now, especially in the evening, is quiet and peaceful, good for the body, mind, and soul. I particularly enjoyed it with my sons and later my grandkids helping.

But back to the point. Finally! It snowed! Winter has always been my favorite running season. Yes, it really has. Michigan and its climate are wonderful for runners, I think. Each season brings something new and is just about perfectly timed for the changes we are ready for.

Spring brings warmer weather just as we are tired of layers of clothes needed for our runs. We also say good-bye to the icy/slippery conditions. Shorts and tee shirts, here we come! It’s always a treat, a rebirth of sorts, to see the green plants and the blossoming flowers.

Despite summer’s hot temperatures, we can ease those by getting up a couple of hours early to beat the heat. That isn’t a big deal to me. With less rain, mud is often out of the picture. Plus, look at all those summer weekend races!

After the heat of June, July, and August, I admit to looking forward to the autumn. There is the
cooler weather, but it’s still good for shorts and tee shirts at least until late October or even this year mid-November. Toss in the usually brilliant changing colors of the leaves and shrubs!

With these seasons and a little imagination, it’s as if we are running in distinctly different places. Our usual routes take on different looks.

While I enjoy all of the seasons, winter has always been special, as noted, my favorite time for running. But this year things didn’t seem the same. There was no snow on the ground. The last week in January, though, returned all to normal.

Yes, it’s still slippery due to the ice and compacted snow from traffic. Yes, we must slow down,
maybe taking choppier strides/steps a bit, watching our turns, and being extra vigilant for vehicles. The snow can also hide potholes and cracks in the pavement. There are ruts, too, found on freezing trails and the roads’ shoulders, that can reek havoc on ankles. More caution is needed. Putting on extra layers of clothes can be a chore, especially since I sometimes overdress. None of those have changed my mind. Winter is still the tops!

The cold is rarely, if ever, bothersome. I’ve been out there at -15° (actual temperature, not windchill or “real feel”) twice and many times in single digits and below. Put on a mask and an extra layer of clothes and gloves and out I go. It’s almost a matter of honor, to show I’m not a “weather wimp.” Is there a merit badge for very cold weather running?

Like shoveling, winter running brings to me peace and quiet. Often there is less traffic and fewer folks out there. Trails and backroads are painted in coats of pristine white. Even during the occasional thaws, the blacks and grays are welcome, reminding me of the painting “Whistler’s Mother” (“Arrangement in Grey and Black”).

A short while ago, I came back in the house after a weekend run. I must have had a look of real contentment as Karen asked, “Good run?” Yes, it was. My last half hour out there I was in a snow globe, the dense flakes surrounding me in an almost other-worldly scene. It was great! Winter is back!

Oh look, the temperature this morning, right now at 6:00, is 3°. I’d better get out there before it warms up! Before I do, what is your favorite running season? Winter?