Thoughts From a Winter Run

Everything is sharper in the cold.

I inhale, and the air pokes at my lungs like Pop Rocks.

My motions are more terse - there is less dawdling, less wandering. My plans for getting from Point A to Point B are more firm, and this translates into each step. My feet strike the pavement, and I hear the squeaking of snow, the crackling of ice, the crunching of salt. Even the dirt and grass is hard. With each landing, the hardness reverberates up through my feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips. My core tightens in response. As my body temperature rises, I remind myself to relax my shoulders from their protective tenseness.

I have to be dynamic but deliberate, especially on the ice. Gaining sly speed by overstriding is not an option. Lean too far forward, and my feet will slip behind me, sending me cartwheeling. Lean too far back, and my feet will slip out from under me like a cartoon. No, I must stretch tall, and notice my feet landing under my hips. With each stride, I feel my hip flexors and quads engage to carry my knee forward, and I remind my glutes and hamstrings to loosen in opposition. As each leg winds up for the next step, I feel my glutes and hamstrings come alive, and I remind my hip flexors and quads to relax. My muscles and tendons are less likely to adapt to a sudden slide if they remain taut beyond their exact moment of use. And yet speed comes from power - dynamic but deliberate.

Left-right-left-right… crunch-crunch-crunch-crunch.

I exhale, and my warm breath forms a fog illuminated by the moon and my headlamp.

I am learning to be sharper.


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