Surviving “Winter Rage”

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Lifestyle, Run, Training
Tags: , , ,
  • Long Run (click to see stats & route)
  • 25k (2:26:05)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 150 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 168 bpm
  • Avg. Pace = 5:51 /km
  • Max. Pace = 4:18 /km
  • Calories = 2671
  • Temp = -16 º (w/ 90 kph gusts of wind)
  • SOTD: ‘Truckin’’ by The Grateful Dead

When it comes to winter running, sometimes I think ‘whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’, and then sometimes I think ‘you’re an idiot’.  But, hey, training schedules are training schedules and if I changed the plan every time the weather changed for the worse, I’d get nowhere…fast…especially these days.  So when the weather turns really shitty, I bundle up, load up the iPod with good tunes, put on my best brave face, think the happiest of thoughts, and head out anyway; time to get ‘er done.

I’ve discussed before the merits of braving the elements versus playing it safe (click HERE), but things have changed significantly for me since then.  First, I’ve moved into a more rural area.  Once I’m out…I’m pretty much committed as there are no short cuts home.  In fact, sometimes the way back might prove to be even more treacherous than sticking to the planned route.  Furthermore, sometimes the weather takes a turn for the nasty while  you’re out and now you have no choice but to ‘embrace the suck’ and continue on.  Secondly, I’m infinitely tougher, both mentally and physically, than I was back when I first contemplated this dilemma so I’m less likely to pack it in or abandon my run altogether if it’s not, like, 100% impossible outside (think: tornadoes, volcanoes, lightning storms, real ‘End of the World’ type stuff).  But that’s not necessarily a good thing either.

Anyway, I have noticed one peculiar thing lately while out braving the winter weather and, honestly, it doesn’t really have much to do with me, like, at all.  Living out here in Ridgeway, I have found most people – motorists I’m talking about – to be very be respectful of runners.  I chalk it up to being out more in the rural countryside versus the normal rat race lifestyle of the city.  For the most part, drivers slow down, move over and otherwise let me pass safely.  That’s awesome.  I typically offer a friendly wave as a thank you as I like to propagate that kind of behavior and, more often than not, that gesture is returned with a smile and a similar wave.  But, when the weather turns shitty, those return waves are not always given quite so willy-nilly anymore.  No, suddenly, there is a chill in the air and I don’t just mean in the air temperature either.  In fact, my friendly gesture of thanks is now typically returned by a vigorous shaking of the head as if to say ‘what an idiot’  or – quite often – that universally recognized one-finger salute; yup, by those same people.  So, besides the weather, what’s changed to orchestrate such a turnaround in attitude?

While I will agree from time to time that I am, in fact, an idiot for being out in the conditions I am sometimes, does that really deserve such an angry 360° response by motorists?  Hey, I pay city taxes like everybody else and – last I heard anyway – I have every right to use those same roads that motorists do, whether I’m driving, running, or cycling for that matter.  Shit, I can crawl through the streets if I chose to.  Besides, it doesn’t seem to be a problem when the weather is nice, so what’s their beef all of a sudden when the weather is not so nice?  It is ‘all bets are off’ and we assume a ‘survival of the fittest’, or ‘every man for himself’  kind of mentality?  Surely that can’t be the case is it?

Is it because I have to sometimes run a little further out in the road since typically the roadsides are either covered in 2ft. snow drifts or coated in 2 inches of icy slop?  Is that the issue?  Or is it because the motorists are suddenly, for whatever reason, in a huge hurry to get somewhere that they otherwise wouldn’t have to be when it’s nice out and having to slow down a wee bit for me is some enormous inconvenience?  And why is it that motorists seem to be driving faster than usual on shitty weather days?  I mean, it slippery as fuck out, shouldn’t you be slowing down anyway?  That’s the SMART thing to do.  Seriously, I had a pick-up truck pass by so close to me today going at least 30km/h  faster than the speed limit allows.  Where’s the sense in that?  And I get the big ‘fuck you’  thrown in my face?  Huh?  Really?

Once, I even had a passing driver stop altogether, roll down the window and proceed to scream at me for even being out in the first place.  I guess when it snows, unless you have a vehicle, you’re not allowed to leave the home.  His logic seemed to stem that I shouldn’t be running against traffic but on the other side with the traffic.  Yeah, right!  Hey, asshole, given there are morons out there like you with no respect for my safety, I tend to prefer having you well in my sights as you approach rather than take the chance of you sneaking up behind me and mowing me down.  Capeesh?  Your behavior actually validates that I made the right choice about which side of the road to run on.  And it’s not like there are sidewalks out here 95% of the time so, yes, I run on the road against traffic and I do make every attempt to get onto the side of the road for passing motorists, but sometimes that’s just not possible when the weather is shitty.  Hey, blame Mother Nature…not me.

I guess their argument is that it’s not safe to be out at all.  Maybe that’s it?  But I look at it like this now, if it’s so unsafe to be out…why are they?  Am I supposed to curb my activity so everyone else can carry on with theirs without the inconvenience of my (seemingly) getting in their way?  Maybe, they’re in my way?  It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it?  What I do know, is that taking hairpin corners on country roads in excess of the speed limit isn’t particularly safe either is it?  No.  Likewise, if I took to assuming that logic of not leaving the house because it was “unsafe”, I’d never leave the house.  ‘Fitness’, after all, is not just acquired in the nice weather.

Let’s get something straight, you don’t have to agree with me on this – like at all – that’s okay.  But, hey, that also doesn’t give you (the driver) the right to suddenly turn into the Grim Reaper and throw caution to the wind in regards to my safety.  Don’t be a jack ass.  Think.

Personally, I just don’t see why we all can’t all just agree to slow down when the weather turns foul, be safe, and get to and from wherever we’re going, despite how we might choose to get there, and simply arrive alive?  Why the winter rage?

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