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Wayne Post
  • ON THE RUN: Finding the ‘Winter Warrior’ in me

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  • As a lifelong WNY resident, you might assume that I love winter. You would, however, be sorely mistaken. Winter and I have never been friends. I don’t ski or snowboard, prefer my boots with high heels, and need three blankets on the bed to get through the coldest nights. When the weather started to turn cold last fall, I was nervous about sustaining my new running habit.
    How would I progress as a runner while the temperatures plummeted and snow began swirling? Relying on the treadmill would remove much of what I loved about running, so that wasn’t a viable option. Luckily, I was able to attend a talk called “Cold, Colder, Coldest Running” at Fleet Feet Sports. The key, I learned, was proper clothing, preparation, and taking that first important step out the door.
    The onset of winter gave me the opportunity to buy a completely new running wardrobe. In addition to a strong headlamp and reflective vest, I stocked up on socks, hats, gloves and base layers. Everything needed to keep me warm, yet not too warm. Trial and error taught me fleece was bad, but wool socks were wonderful. Form fitting might not be my style, yet for base layers it couldn’t be beat. Gloves were critical for both keeping my fingers warm and doubling as a solution to runny noses. Never borrow a runner’s gloves after a run; trust me.
    Preparation involved finding running routes that were relatively free of snow and well lit at night. Favorite spots such as the canal path were no longer a safe option for evening runs. These routes were now pitch-black and spooky, even when wearing my trusty headlamp. Then there was the essential aspect of analyzing the weather for how to dress. How cold would it be? How windy? Will it snow? Monitoring the hourly forecast from the weather app on my phone became a near obsession.
    Trapped inside my work cubicle all day, I would wander past the front desk to peer out the windows, getting a ‘real world’ view of the weather situation. “You’re not running in this, are you?” the receptionist would occasionally ask me. “Oh, yes,” I always replied, “I need my points!”
    My ‘points’ were credit I earned while participating in Fleet Feet’s “Winter Warrior” program. Like many running stores around the country, Fleet Feet had an incentive program to keep folks running outside through the winter. Attend a workout or run a race, and earn points. Earn enough points and get a prize. Earn more points, and get a bigger prize.
    I may occasionally claim otherwise, but my competitive streak runs deep. Additionally, I absolutely love free stuff. Dangle a t-shirt with a nifty “Winter Warrior” logo, or a warm pair of running socks in front of me, and suddenly attending a hill run in 9-degree weather to earn five points seems completely reasonable. Many an evening, I found myself blinking back snow as some of my hardy Winter Warrior compatriots and I ran up Monroe Avenue into a head wind. Nothing beat heated car seats after a long Saturday run in single-digit temperatures. My co-workers questioned my sanity, even when I brought in my Winter Warrior mug to show off. Especially when I brought in my mug to show off.
    Page 2 of 2 - Happily, I had found my reason for going out into the cold, and while I often complained, I actually loved running in the crisp winter weather. Last winter was the first time in years that I was outside for more than the few quick steps to my car from the front door. Ironically, the winter didn’t seem nearly as long as usual. I’ll be out there again this year, having already signed up for the Winter Warrior 2014 program. Join me! Just don’t try to lay claim to my heated car seat after we run.
    Christine DeHond is a relative newcomer to running, with a half-marathon, the Utica Boilermaker, and several other races under her belt. A Buffalo native, she has lived in Rochester since 1989 and currently works in Calibration Quotations at Transcat. She mentors beginning runners in the New Balance/Fleet Feet No Boundaries program and is always looking for new routes, new running friends, and the top of the hill. Follow her on Facebook, or email at christined65@hotmail.com.

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