Points North

Perspective: It’s a Cold Windy Morning and I’m Running

on Mar 19, 2023 in Inspiration

I never thought I would be lacing up my shoes to run in winter. But somehow, despite my best wits and self-knowledge, I signed up for a running group to train for the Sole of the City 10K that happens in April in Baltimore.

April sounds like a nice month to run a race, right?

It sounds like there will be cherry blossoms in full bloom along the course, that birds will be chirping and there will be fluffy clouds against the bluest sky. But, in order to train for a spring race, one must start in winter.

Spoiler alert: I don’t like to run outside in winter. The air is harsh against my skin and lungs; it’s difficult to figure out what to wear (you’re either too hot or too cold!); and it’s damn near impossible to justify leaving a warm cozy bed for a cold run. Perhaps I was being naive in thinking we’d have slightly warmer weather by the time training started. But so far I’ve just seen a pattern of cold days, rainy days, and the occasional warm spike to keep us hopeful. The constant back and forth between winter and spring is a Netflix special nobody asked for.

And yet somewhere between my solo gym workouts and group fitness classes that are so early in the morning people barely mumble so much as a hello (listen I get it, I haven’t had my coffee yet either), I found myself craving the camaraderie that came with group runs.

Running on my own wasn’t motivating enough, I needed to know what I was running to or from. Having a goal has always helped me to put one foot in front of the other.

Joining one of Charm City Run’s training groups does just that, no matter the weather. So here I am, less than 3 weeks away from the Sole of the City 10K race, feeling the familiar doubts and excitement that come with an approaching deadline. Can I do this? Did I train hard enough? Am I pushing myself in the right way?

Here are the biggest takeaways from my training journey so far:

The race is me against me.

As we start to cover longer distances, my run group spreads out over the miles around the city. There are long stretches where it’s just me. Comparison of fitness and bodies robs us of our joy, robs us of the journey within ourselves that we all must take when we’re working towards something. Even on race day, they tell us that your true goal is to finish the race, and not to be terribly bothered by time or who’s running faster than you. They’ve told me this several times, and it only really sinks in when I’m alone in my run. When it’s just me and the hill, or me and the pavement, or me and that frigid breeze coming off the Baltimore harbor. And I’m simply choosing myself each time, choosing to put one foot in front of the other.

The goal is always to finish what I started.

So, whether I’m hitting the pavement or going after a work project, I try to tackle big challenges one step at a time. Believe it or not, the longer runs have become my sweet spot. In the longer runs, I learn how to pace myself. There are moments when I push and places where I coast. On the coast, I can check in on my breathing, take stock of how my body is feeling, and get my mind ready for the next push. Additionally, I break down longer runs into more manageable sections, and then I take care of the smaller things that need to happen for me to get through that section. It’s the same kind of planning and pushing that happens in the projects I work on for Points North. Before I know it, the final stretch is upon me, and it feels good.

I must listen to my body, and trust it more.

Our bodies know way more than we give them credit for. I sometimes doubt my gut reactions or how I’m feeling. But with this training season, I am learning to trust my body more. Note, for the sake of body awareness, I’m referring to my body as “she.” When she wants to rest, I rest. When she needs a little longer to recover, I take that space without judgment. And I’ve also found myself being more intentional about self-care before and after the run (stretching, icing, using Lush products as part of a glorious self-care routine, etc.). It’s a nice harmony, an ebb and flow that’s allowing me to truly go the distance.

Say the first hello.

In approaching a new activity, we’re putting ourselves out there. Showing up is step one, and that’s only the beginning.

We’re meeting folks for the first time, and I know that seems like something to shoulder shrug about, but I think on a deeper level we’re also seeking connection. Connection can be a bit tricky and maybe awkward at first. Will you remember everyone’s names? To be honest, probably not in the grand scheme of things. Will you vibe with the group? Maybe. Here’s the thing, I’ve learned to be more attracted to beginnings instead of the way things might pan out or end. So, I actually don’t mind saying the first hello or asking about your running shoes (especially if they are cool!). It doesn’t hurt to be friendly; it creates a welcoming environment for us to all push toward our goals together. I’m learning that I’m totally down to say the first hello in the spirit of seeing where things go from here.

Surprising myself is coming naturally.

It’s comical that sometimes my best run time will be from a day when I was literally racing in not-so-great conditions (rain, wind, cold, etc). I’m not sure what the rhyme or reason is for performance on one day over another. The conditions are always changing. But I’ve learned to expect beautiful surprises along the way and to delight in them when they come. Surprises don’t have to be related to run times, by the way. They also included stumbling upon neighborhood gardens and beautiful mural art, and catching the morning light on quiet empty streets before the city comes to life.

In time, running to me can become a mindful practice and a meditation. I’m excited to see where this journey takes me, both literally and physically speaking.

Photos around Baltimore, taken while running


RUNGRL – The cover photo of this post is from RUNGRL. It’s hard to be what you can’t see. Launched in 2018, RUNGRL is a digital media and event platform for Black women that uses running as a vehicle to impact wellness in our community. By thoughtfully curating content and events that share our voices and our stories, we are changing the existing narrative on what it means to be a runner. Follow RUNGRL on Instagram.

Charm City RunCharm City Run is a Running & Walking Specialty company that is committed to fitting every customer in the “right” shoe. They believe the journey is just as important as the race, so they also offer group training sessions. Charm City Run’s mission is to inspire and move the human spirit, one sole at a time.

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