I love running. I never thought I would ever say I love running. Today, the Saturday before Thanksgiving in the year 2021, as I’m writing this, I am quite pleased to report that I love running. I just took a deep breath to let that soak in. Writing it here to put it out into the world with witnesses, (that’s YOU!) helps make it 100% real!
This past week I re-joined a run club called Run Minnesota and this morning, I did a 7.5 mile run with a subgroup of Run MN called the Polar Bears. The Polar Bears host casual runs all winter long on Saturday mornings, alternating between Saint Paul and Minneapolis routes. The distances range from 3 miles to about 10 miles.
Turns out running with people outside no matter the weather is AMAZING! It took me a while to find people that run at my pace. It’s true, I am not fast. In fact, on a good day I average 12 minute miles. If I’m doing a run-walk-run rhythm, which I usually am doing, I often average more like 13 minute miles. One of the key things I continually remind myself is that I am out there moving my body and that is what counts the most.
Thankfully, because I’ve been attending interval run workouts at a nearby high school as part of the YWCA, I’ve gotten to know the coach, Laurie, and a number of the other runners who show up every Thursday morning at 7am. One good advantage of a track workout is that no matter your speed, we cheer each other on. That feels good. Many of the interval runners are also members of Run Minnesota and many of them were there this morning for the Fleet Feet run shoe store hosted run.
My dear running/athlete friend Jenny, who happens to run at my pace, also re-joined Run MN this week, and we decided to do the 7.5 mile route together. Another of the women who’s in our triathlon group, Team Looking Sharp, Nadine, she too joined this week. Granted Nadine runs about an 8 minute mile, so she was looking for other fast runners to keep her company!
The weather was perfect, about 30 degrees Fahrenheit with no wind. Both Jenny and I had on the ideal amount of clothing and we had lots to talk about. As a result the one hour thirty two minutes it took us to run 7.5 miles flew by. Luckily, since we were running around Lake Harriet and Lake Bde Maka Ska, the scenery was glorious!
Run outside, it’s good for your mental health
Turns out exercising outside during a pandemic is not only safer, it makes a big difference in anxiety and depression. Kaiser Permanente did a study of about 20,000 people in the United States in 2020 to determine this. Here’s what they discovered:
After analyzing the data, the researchers saw that those who had exercised or spent more time outdoors had lower anxiety and depression scores.
They also found the following:
- The participants reported fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression over time.
- Females and younger people had higher anxiety and depression scores, while Asian and Black people had lower scores.
- Those who did not report doing any physical activity during lockdown had the highest depression and anxiety scores.
My pod of friends who ran and skied last winter through the first pandemic winter for sure discovered this. All of us maintained excellent mental health and none of us got lonely. Turns out in-person contact combined with physical movement does make a difference.
Cold weather run gear
Here in Minnesota outdoor movement activities can be a challenge, what with cold temps, snow, ice and wind. Here are a few articles for some guidance. The bottom line, each person has to figure out what works best for you.
One runner friend mentioned on a Facebook group that he records the weather for each winter run, how long he ran and exactly what he wore along with notes on how the gear worked for that particular run. I might try that this winter.
Winter gear resources
This is an article from Outside Magazine about how to survive the most frigid runs.
And finally, here is a November 2021 New York Times article about the best gear for cold-weather. As a result of this article, I ordered myself a pair of the WhitePaws run mits from REI. I will let you know how they work.
More cold weather resources
My Thursday morning track running pal Jenne, who has asthma and Raynaud’s disease, told me about Warm Skin and Aquaphor, both excellent products to protect any exposed skin in the cold. I will be using these this winter.
Do you run in the cold outside in the winter? Please tell me your secrets to success! I love hearing from you!
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