Here’s a rough synopsis of the weather forecast for Northeast Pennsylvania tonight and tomorrow: cold, 2 to 4 inches of snow mixing in with freezing rain and sleet. So, basically, it’s going to be a mess that will turn the roads into a nightmare. And naturally, that doesn’t bode too well for us runners. Running in winter is never easy in the northern parts of the country, as Mother Nature likes to remind us how powerless we really can be sometimes.
In light of the conditions, it’s certainly possible I might be forced to take tomorrow off. Taking a single unplanned day off might not sound so bad, but trust me when I say, we runners often develop addictions getting our runs in. And I find myself frustrated because this snowstorm is coming almost immediately after a stretch of above average warm weather that melted nearly all the snow we got back in December. And the forecast for next week is calling for extreme cold, with highs barely in the mid 20s.
When I find myself getting frustrated by the weather anymore, all I do is just take a step back and look at the bigger picture. On any given day, it’s easy to get fed up with people who don’t shovel their sidewalks, with biting wind, with blinding snow, and with bitter cold. It’s easy to let the despair of the long, cold and dark winter take hold. But every time that happens, I step outside the current conditions. I remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. The joy it brings me. That great swell of pride from knowing you braved the conditions.
But there’s more than that. The reason running in the winter is worth it is not immediately apparent. Usually sometime in the month of March, it dawns on you. The snow is melting. The flowers are sprouting. The days grow longer. Spring. Spring would be completely meaningless without winter. If we didn’t have to endure all that cold and all that darkness, would those first few warm spring days be so great? We would never get to enjoy the sight of snow slowly melting away and plants coming back to life.
Occasionally, we do get tastes of spring, of warmer days, even in the dead of winter. The aforementioned recent warm stretch was brief, but it was glorious while it lasted. Yesterday, I ran in just shorts and a t-shirt. I was a tad under-dressed, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Today, it was back to Underarmour and gloves. I could barely move my hands when I got back inside. And every time a particularly nasty wind gust kicked up today, I just remembered how nice the previous day was. And instead of making me angry, instead of growing angry that the warm weather didn’t continue, I was glad that it had happened at all. Because without days like today, days like yesterday wouldn’t be nearly as great.
So I’ll take the brief warm stretches. I got to enjoy just a few days of clear sidewalks, but for now, that’s enough for me. It’s a reminder that, without fail, spring will come. And tonight’s weather will make spring all the better. I welcome the weather. Because, in the end, I know it will pass.