Waking Up My Winter Warrior

by Shamala Kandiah Thompson

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Peekskill Bay after 2014’s first snowfall.

A year ago I thought I had become a winter warrior. I even boasted about it in this blog. I was now an all-weather runner having completed 12 miles in testing wintry conditions to go with my proven ability in warmer climes. A year later Old Man Winter has thrown out new challenges that has got me questioning my ability to cope with running through the seasons. Not long ago I was delighted when it snowed. Now I’m dreading the thought of tomorrow’s run. Plus single digit farenheit temperatures have proven to be a tough mental barrier.

Ever since we got back from Singapore just before the New Year, New York has experienced a mix of record low temperatures, snow storms, bone chilling winds and icy under foot conditions.  A wintry mix that has led to some of my lowest mileage weeks in a long time. Paul on the other hand has had a couple of high mileage weeks. He’s clearly made of much sterner stuff.

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It’s possible to ski in some of my regular running spots now.

I have learned to run thorough normal winter conditions. Layers, wicking fabrics, wooly hats and mittens are all in abundance in my wardrobe. But the below freezing temperatures – even without wind chill – combined with icy roads have left me in two minds on too many days about running outdoors. When I do get out I am too easily satisfied – a plodding 3 miles seems an achievement.

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Trudging around Swan Lake.

Almost exactly a year ago I ran 12 miles on snow and ice in Rockefeller Preserve –  albeit in slightly warmer conditions. Yesterday I struggled through six miles with the same sort of underfoot conditions and 23F (the warmest day in the last two weeks). Today I did get out and do another six miles in spite of even colder temperatures  –  17F/-8C which with wind chill felt like 0F/-17c. Nevertheless it left me wondering if I had gone soft.

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried alternatives to running – spinning classes and treadmills at the gym. But there’s nothing that makes me feel such a great sense of achievement as a two hour run in the winter. But to get to that point again, I have to overcome my demons and rediscover my hibernating winter warrior.

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