Tough Guy War Stories

As a runner, some of my proudest moments involve adverse conditions. Rain, wind, snow and other things that Mother Nature dishes out become prized trophies in the memory of any serious runner. Just as old soldiers compare scars, runners compare stories about going outside in horrible weather. Feel free to show off your own battle scars in the comments below.

This morning I had a tough time with the wind chill factor. The temp was 29 degrees farenheit, but the wind brought it down to 17. I found myself sweating or freezing, depending upon whether I had buildings to block the wind for me. Once I got out of downtown, I was just cold.

There’s a lot of time to think on a 10 miler. I don’t play tunes when I run anymore, so I found myself reminiscing about other times when conditions were harsh. There’s the cold, of course, and the rain. But there were also times when I ran in the worst heat that South Carolina can dish out. My personal favorite is the time I was caught in a thunderstorm, and ran home through flash-flooded sections of downtown Charleston, SC. (There have been other storms, but they weren’t nearly as dramatic as that one.)

And yet, I consider myself lucky. Even though we’re in the middle of a cold spell, we’re still not as cold as New England. I enjoyed running in the snow when I lived there, but the ice always worried me. My northern friends deal with it every year, of couse. Some of them just go into the gym for a few months, but there’s also the occasional nutter who dresses up in layers and reflectors and pushes through the ice while Mother Nature brandishes a stiff middle finger.

Each region offers its own challenges, but some are definitely more difficult than others. But as much as we may try to top each other’s war stories, one thing remains constant. Each of us has great respect for a runner who steps outside into bad weather. It shows commitment to your goals. It shows that you’re not just a talker. Whatever your reasons for running, you prove yourself each time you step outside without your first cup of coffee.

You know, I think I’ve changed my mind. I think my favorite bad-weather run was in Burlington, Vermont. It was cold and raining heavily, and I met another guy on the trail. We both smiled and saluted each other as we passed.