Running in a Winter Wonderland

I woke up to another cold, dark morning and as my alarm clock sounded to the calming tune of Fur Elise, I strongly contemplated hitting snooze. It’s my Birthday! I remembered; all the more reason to sleep in! But seeing as how I had work in a few hours there was no option. I headed to the kitchen to make my pumpkin latte and glanced outside at grey skies and a touch of frost on the rooftops. Another gloomy run I guess!
I took my time enjoying my coffee and reading a devotional before I bundled up to head outside. I opened the door and much to my surprise, there was a thick blanket of pure white snow and fluffy snowflakes that hit my eyes! Wow! 

I ran back inside to add my Oiselle running vest to my layers, and a hat to keep the flurries off my face, and excitedly ran back out the door. At this point, I realized maybe I had a good excuse to actually skip the run for safety reasons, but instead my Midwest childhood roots kicked in and I thought, This looks fun!
 Growing up, I loved the snow,particularly my early years as a runner. There’s something about being the only brave soul out there risking the elements, with only the Canadian Geese for company.

Art collage of Ohio running memories

I still cherish my favorite running memories from Ohio, which were out on the rolling hills of the local golf course, surrounded by miles of an untouched blanket of snow. Not a soul in site, a calm silence and serenity. Just me, the geese, and Josh Groban ringing loud through my ear buds. I have such fond memories of these snowy runs I made them the subject of one of my art projects in HS.

Back in the band Days

As I jogged down the street this morning and headed to the park, my mind was jogged with the memories of my snowy runs in Ohio. Oh, how I’ve forgotten how much I’ve missed this! 
My ipod playlist consisted mostly of classical tunes; Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas, Josh Groban, Chopin, and a Pachibal’s Cannon Christmas mix. To some, classical music might seem strange for running, but its actually my go-to. Although its been awhile since my clarinet days playing in the Oberlin Youth Orchestra, I still find nothing more motivating or heart-wrenching than big crescendos and the constant tempo changes classic melodies and movie soundtracks have to offer.
No joke, these make up 90% of my running playlist (randomly mixed with some Eminem, Pitbull, Kigston and T-Pain, haha).
As I let the music take me away into my own winter-wonder-running-land, I was enjoying myself so much I began thinking about what exactly makes a GREAT run. There’s something about running that makes it more than just a habitual exercise; its an experience that encompasses not only the body, but also the mind and soul. The crunch of the snow under my feet, the flapping wings of a flock of geese, snowflakes dancing in the air, and the bright whiteness all aroud me made me so thankful to be out in nature experiencing God’s beautiful creation.

To me, the perfect run is one where you reach that point where you’re so in tune with nauture’s elements you forget you’re even running; whether its running through a New Jersey snowstorm, through the Colorado Rockies, through pristine Mammoth Lakes in California, amidst the “tall pines” in Oregon, the rolling red clay hills in Georgia, or by the beach in Florida. It’s in these amazing places that my heart rate is elevated, not by running 30 seconds faster, but by slowing down enough to actually take in the awesome views around me.
The older I get, the more I also am realizing that God’s beautiful creations are every where, you just have to be in-tune. Today, I’m blessed that on my birthday God gave me a beautiful real-life snow globe to run through. However, had it not started snowing, I probably would have been thinking, Ugh! Another ugly grey day in Jersey!

But the truth is, no matter where you are, or what the conditions are like, who you have to run with, or whether or not your favorite playlist is with you, there is always some beautiful aspect of nature to enjoy if you look hard enough. Often times runners take the little things for granite, paying more attention to their GPS watch than the natural landmarks along every mile. It’s ashame.

God created this world with so much beauty, we should enjoy it. Even on the days when we feel sluggish and groggy about crappy weather, its a miracle how many little things are happening within our own bodies just to put one foot in front of another in the running motion. Not only is it a miracle how our bodies are intricately configured to work, its amazing when you think about all the things that are happening around you in nature. Sometimes the old saying rings true, you really ought to “stop and smell the roses” every once in awhile. Some people won’t, they’d rather just rush through life without noticing the scenery around them. But I really believe this makes running so much more enjoyable, and all the more reason I love running, not just for “a win.”

So my question to you all is, What are the elements of your “perfect run?”

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