The Lighter Side of Running So, March Is Here…

I woke up on Thursday morning with energy and a motivation that I had not found in months, and it had to do with a simple fact; Thursday morning, at least at the time of this writing, marked our passage into the month of March.

March has always been one of my better running months, because I always feel that I am running into spring with each stride, at least during the early part of the month, which is still part of winter. There is a distinctly different feel to March, I find. First of all, it is actually light outside when I get home, so I don’t have to worry about my affection for darker colors being a possible drawback to my passion for running. Second, the sun actually feels warm on the skin, overriding to an extent the blustering winds that persist, serving only to remind humanity that having cracked skin is a lot like having to sit through the WB Sunday lineup. Third, life returns to the flora and fauna, at least to some degree, so that I am no longer running through a monochromatic parade of dead grass and barren trees. You can see then how anyone could actually welcome the month of march, especially if they are a runner, because life not only returns to your routine, but to your route as well.

I actually started to dig up my shorts and tank tops this weekend as well, and although my parents insisted that this was presumptuous of me and reminded me that the threat of snow and cold lasts well into April in the state of Michigan, I insisted that weather that was actually fit for human recreation was in fact just around the corner and that this was a transition I should make now. Now, as an intrepid runner, you should never be afraid to make the adjustment to a spring wardrobe a little early, otherwise you will find yourself trudging through the warm days of May wearing your spandex, which has turned from warm leggings to the ultimate reducing suit. It was yesterday, then, that I decided to brave the cool temperatures of an early March morning (all 36 degrees) for a short run around the street, thinking maybe that the intrepid runner in me would see this as a logical step toward a more sane climatological outlook, if you will. Well, it was at the very moment that I started that the wind kicked up a little bit, sending the wind chill, at least for a moment, into the teens. Of course, when it feels like 15 degrees outside and one is wearing shorts, it can get extremely uncomfortable rather quickly. Indeed, that is how it felt to me, as I felt my skin chap to a point where I likely looked about 70 years older than my current age. I ran screaming inside and decided to don my winter gear for another day. The first attempt at a transition to spring failed; no big deal, I suppose. I could always try to achieve that level of chapping again.

There are actually buds on many of the trees along my usual running paths now, and although it is somewhat early for anything substantive to come from those buds, it is nonetheless evidence that life is crawling back into the area again. Only yesterday, I heard several birds idly chirping outside my office window, which hasn’t happened since late October or so. This motivates me to run harder and faster, for I know that as long as there is life in nature, there is some life in me. I can’t really muster up many good long vigorous runs in the winter, but that could either be lack of motivation due to the depressing weather or the fear of slipping and falling and becoming a late runner.

You can feel the green, if you will, and I am not talking about a particularly salacious suggestion made at last year’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities (though many of my friends will no doubt remember that the victim was me).

I can sense the warm weather making a slow return, so I pretend I am running toward it, and this is why many of my best runs came early in the spring when I was running as fast as I could away from the stray snow squalls that would occasionally pay a visit to Michigan around early April. It is simply nice to be a runner and be faced with this transitional period between seasons where the worst is leaving and the best is coming.

The best thing about March, however, is not the fact that once in a while, you can actually find a freak warm day and wear shorts, but that it is not January of February, which are the darkest and creepiest months for any runner in the Great White North. The rains of March are simply cold and dank, but not cold and dank and consisting of ice. The winds of March are cool, but at least you aren’t standing in a meat locker when you stop at an intersection.

The feeling of March is still one of mild trepidation, but at least the reason is not that you may slip on snow-covered ice and push your cranium into your brain as a result. The other runners on the street are still bundled up, but at least you can tell that an actual human is under all the cover. It is simply a month where you know that good things are coming soon.

I will admit that I cannot wait until April, of course, because it has traditionally been one of my best running months, and of course, it will be the first anniversary of my graduation from the University of Michigan. I feel that it will be a new beginning professionally and for me as an athlete. March will just be a month where I still chatter my teeth at the mere mention of snow.