Cold Lungs, Warm Heart

posted in: Day In The Life 9
Yeah, that looks familiar. Harbor and skyline as seen from the Planetarium. Photo by Charles Weever Cushman (1896-1972); image via Wikipedia.


I am not a jogger.

I don’t do 5k runs. I don’t have one of those Garmin things, whatever those things are. I don’t dream of running a marathon. Actually, I did dream of running a marathon once: I woke up in a cold sweat and had to get a glass of water to calm my nerves.


There have been periods in my life when I actually was a Running Person, when I did feel the need to cross long distances moving my legs at a faster rate than they would be going if I were walking. Sometimes, putting on sneakers and taking off has struck me as a thing — even the thing — to do.

For example, one of the best memories I have of my relationship with my ex-husband was the day we ran from our apartment in Edgewater all the way to Navy Pier … and back. It was 15 miles! And we just did it. Neither of us were regular joggers. But we were in love and we felt like it and we could. Marvelous. It was less marvelous when my big toenail turned black — and I didn’t run much for the rest of the year — but I’ll never forget that and how good it felt, start to finish.

And before that, back when I was a waitress at an Uptown brunch joint, I would wake up at 5 a.m. and go jogging before I had to clock in two hours later for the truly insane Saturday shift. That is fairly remarkable, but then, I was 23 years old. What else did I have to do, really?

After some years of zero jogs, I have been going out and getting a few. I’ve been gathering jogs, you could say. And what do you know? Jogging feels really good. I’m diggin’ it. I’m almost — not totally, but almost — looking forward to doing it tomorrow morning.

“Oh, Mary,” you chuckle, and tenderly pat my hand. “You’re so sweet. You mean that you liked jogging a few months ago and you were too busy to tell us about it so you’re telling us now.”

“No,” I say, but I let you pat me because I have never refused a tender pat. “No, I mean I’ve been jogging lately. Like, now, lately.”

You look at me and I think for a moment I have managed to put an exploded pen in my mouth or something.

“Mary,” you say slowly, “it’s winter. It was nine degrees in Chicago today.”

Yeah, I know, I know. But the thing about me and jogging is that doing it in the winter is when I like to do it. Jogging in the heat, under the glare of the sun, dodging a zillion people who do not think it necessary to wear clothes that cover large parts of their bodies? No bueno. Winter jogging is where it’s at, my sisters.

Everyone’s first fear is that you’ll freeze out there or worse, that you’ll sweat and freeze, and that does sound pretty awful. But with the proper clothing, you’re fine. You need leggings, an undershirt, and a pullover. You need a hat, gloves, and a neck-thingy. And your shoes and socks. Why, in that getup, you’re downright toasty! And everything “wicks” now. All your winter running gear is going to “wick” moisture, so you won’t be cold or wet, I promise. You’ll just be a big wick.

Of course, one of the major benefits of winter jogging is that you’ve got the world to yourself. Most joggers are on treadmills this time of year, which means you’ve got wide open spaces to explore and all the trails and bike lanes are your private roads. Nice. And you’re out there, out in the clear, bright white world. The air is crystal clear. The sun glints off the snow/lake/rooftops and then you blow your nose on your sleeve and no one sees. I’m telling you, it’s terrific.

I’m not getting kookoo bananas with this “jogging” thing; going out a few times a week feels about right. It doesn’t mean I’m leaping out of bed to go out there, though; not at all. Some days, as it gets closer to the time I told myself I’d go for a jog, I resist. I look out the window and I think, “No, no. It’s too cold today …”

But then I suit up and I get out there. And this version of me shows up and she’s pretty cool.

9 Responses

  1. Mary Lou Maloni
    | Reply

    Inspiration that is what you are

  2. Colleen
    | Reply

    Ok have fun and be careful….I think exercise is good and I agree better in cold/cool weather breathing hot air is not good.

    Is exercising is it good for you does it help you increase your blood work stuff?

  3. Brenda King
    | Reply

    I commend you for your jogging success, Mary! I become a bear in the Winter, hate being cold, and being out in it! I’m also terrified of falling on the ice, having done it too many times to count, with resultant injuries! No, give me a warm fire, a hot cuppa cocoa, a good book, and nice music, or a new quilt pattern and a stack of gorgeous fabrics! This is Winter heaven for me, and much less painful than your way! Enjoy your jogs! : ) Brenda King

  4. Nancy McIntyre
    | Reply

    I laughed out loud. – of course in a good way! You so crazy gurlllll!!! Great post!

  5. Amy Spungen
    | Reply

    I also jog several times a week; more at my age would cause knee issues. It’s cheap therapy, in my opinion, and I definitely prefer cooler (if not subzero) temps. Glad to hear you are hitting your stride!

  6. Susan Joenk
    | Reply

    I go out walking. 9 miles yesterday in CentralPark. And it is lovely & quiet, just like you said. It’s me and the birds. I love it!

  7. Sue Chase
    | Reply

    It’s not even the idea of the cold that bothers me (wait—yes. It does) but what about the potential for slipping & falling when its snowy & icy? I’m sure you’re finding clear places to run, and you just DO it, girl! Meanwhile, I’ll be walking on my treadmill in the basement, thank you very much…..

  8. Becca G
    | Reply

    I talked to my Dr about jogging. Once she picked herself up from the floor she asked if I was out of my mind. I know I can’t jog I can barely walk with out a cane most days. Those days I can walk I do. She said running is very hard on your bones & joints & for most people she recommends walking. At least for people my age (60). So do it, but carefully if you have questions or concerns ask your Dr.
    I’ll wave & Cheer you on from Florida.

  9. Sarah
    | Reply

    Not too many people and the ones you do see are fully clothed. Sounds like a good idea. Also, winter is beautiful in its own special way; talk about a cool palate! If your knees start to complain, throttle back for a time and give them some repair time please.

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