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Saturday, December 6, 2014


Jack Mallon, Flickr

Who does that to themselves? I think as I get out of bed on a cold, dark December morning.

I get dressed nonetheless. Try to find comfort in the fact that my new gear will make the run more comfortable: thin, 2-layer socks and thin, 2-layer mitts, keep you warm without being bulky. Totally worth the price.

I take 2 puffs of my bronchodilator (asthma requires it in this weather). I think back on the time I "could not" exercise because of asthma, and feel grateful that it was eventually properly diagnosed and treated. It will always need attention, but it will never stop me.

I step out. Two things immediately hit me: 1) the cold; 2) the pink, orange and yellow layers that paint the sky at this hour. In awe, I start running.

Despite the inhaler, breathing is a challenge. Those lungs haven't exercised in that kind of cold since last year. Hopefully, they will get used to it again. The conversation with "running partner K" makes everything more bearable. And a quick look at the multicolored sky makes whatever's left of the discomfort vanish.

Amy, Flickr

Running partner K talks about her lack of sleep, but does not use it as an excuse to skip morning runs. As she says simply but wisely, running  before the day starts has twice the benefits of sleeping that extra hour. We will both be busy today. But we're not stressed: we know that run will have prepared us for anything the day throws at us.

Now I am sweating. Sweating outdoors when it's below freezing point. That in itself is a miracle, especially for the woman-who-is-always-cold.

Running partner K tells the story of a coworker who recently had to undergo heart surgery. A man in good shape, who has always exercised and eats well. Life can be unfair. But the surgery went well, and according to his doctors, the only reason he recovered so fast and is already back on his feet is because he was such in a good shape in the first place. Which reminds me of a documentary I watched recently: taking care of your health doesn't only make your life longer; it also makes it healthier. No matter what happens, you are better equipped to deal with it. You suffer less. Or for a shorter amount of time. And apparently, there is a nice proportion of centenarians who die peacefully in their sleep, without having to endure a long disease.

That applies to mental health as well: nurture your mental health, and life will be significantly more enjoyable. Great news: running takes care of that as well. Our run is now over, and I feel like I've ingested a joy potion. My legs are tired but I'm bouncing. My body is damp and salty under those layers of winter running clothes, but I feel light. K points to a bird in the sky and we both marvel.

As I reach my driveway, I come upon a gathering of blue jays and chickadees. I see them everyday, yet right now I almost cry they're so beautiful.

This is why we do this to ourselves.

Find inspiration here!
One of my favorite movies of all times
(might be because of the music)


  1. That sky is gorgeous!!! So glad that you can find the joy even when it is freezing!!!

    1. I won't take the credit on the photo, but it looked a lot like this. Thanks Kim! :-)

  2. I've been having a hard time going out in the cold and dark...you might have inspired me to get out there.

    1. And that just made writing this post worth it! Go go go! :-)

  3. Beautiful!!

    Not so much here in Florida, but when I lived in the northeast I ran many very cold dark early mornings. I had 6 am rounds to make later, but those early morning runs were a freedom I cherished. Once I warmed up they weren't so bad, unless I slowed so much the chill started to come back. At the end I'd brush the frost from my face and be glad another one was in the books :-)

    1. One of the nice things about running in the cold is the very strong incentive to NOT slow down... if you want to stay warm, you have to keep up the speed! :-)

  4. Though I still find little joy in running, this is relevant for me in my new surroundings. Back in Colorado after 15 years in San Diego, I remain committed to bicycle commuting. There is my joy.

    I have thus far ridden in -12F air temps. 80+ mph wind gusts, and done so in shorts.

    I get off my bike in the worst of conditions, and am grateful for the experience.

    As far as taking care of our health goes, it's a throw of the dice. I will always believe that my daily actions puts me in better field position -- but no guarantees.

    1. Commuting by bike is definitely joyful! :-) (but not in shorts when it's cold!!! haha)

      Your take on health is probably wise.

  5. It is so much easier to venture out for a run, or walk in my case, on a cold, frosty morning when the sun is shining. It does fill the heart, soul and body with JOY......far more than when it's wet, dull, damp and grey.

    Hope you are enjoying the festive season

    All the best Jan

    1. You said it really well! However, I usually run in the dark (this was a weekend morning run). In any case, it's very, very good for the soul. Enjoy your festive season too, Jan! :-)