Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Against the wind

In the romantic, fairy tale version of spring, virtuosic bluebirds usher in sunny skies and cherry blossoms as the snow melts away, leaving behind pristine meadows of green grass and wildflowers. In the real world, spring slowly chips away at Old Man Winter’s icy grip on the landscape in a sloppy transition marked by cesspools of slush and mud. The drawn-out battle between warmth and cold often results in unpleasant weather conditions. Chief among them: wind, and lots of it.

You might think that an excessively sweaty person like myself would appreciate the cooling and drying effects of a nice, steady wind. Wrong. I hate the wind. I hate the way it interrupts my breathing, I hate the way it whistles past my ears, and I especially hate the way it frizzes out my hair. (Come on, I already look like I spend my days poking fingers into electrical sockets and rubbing my head on balloons.)

When I am forced to race in the wind, I usually calm my anger and anxiety by pretending that with each swing of my arms, I am actually punching the wind in the face and stomach. My running form inevitably suffers as I attempt to vary my technique to include jabs, hooks and uppercuts. So while I’m out on the track visualizing a bout with Mike Tyson, my competitors are zooming past me and wondering why I haven’t been locked up in the loony bin. But I digress…

After a particularly gusty run this week, I came up with the following set of guidelines to make running in the wind a more enjoyable—and less humiliating—experience.

1.) Avoid out-and-back routes: If you start out against the wind, you’ll be tempted to cut out early because running into a headwind seriously blows (pun intended). Conversely, if you begin with the wind at your back, you’ll run too fast and too far. On the way back, you’ll probably give up and attempt to thumb a ride home, which sets you up to get kidnapped by Mexican druglords. Running with a side wind is a potentially less dangerous option, but beware of arctic winds from the north—they could leave you with a feeling of numbness on one side of your body, a symptom that could be easily misinterpreted as the onset of a stroke.

2.) Fasten loose hair securely: The only thing more annoying than listening to Willow Smith sing about whipping her hair back and forth is having your ponytail repeatedly smacked against your face by 35-mile-an-hour wind gusts. It’s a good day for a bun. Or a skullcap.

3.) Wear eye protection: Under normal circumstances, I would argue that running in sunglasses makes you look like a tool. But with swirling clouds of debris flying through the air, would you rather (a.) endure painful surgery to remove the flecks of gravel and tiny shards of glass that are lodged in your cornea, or (b.) look like a d-bag for 45 minutes?

4.) Leave your running skirt at home: This should really be an everyday rule, but it’s especially important that you resist the urge to wear this ridiculous piece of running attire on a blustery day. This is not the time or place for you to recreate your own Marilyn Monroe moment. It’s a wardrobe malfunction just waiting to happen, and, if you like running in parks frequented by young children, a surefire way to earn a profile on

I hope you have found this guide useful. Happy spring running, or if you live in Montana, happy extended-winter running. (That Punxutawney Phil is really full of it, isn’t he?)

1 comment:

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