A Bird Pooped On My Shoulder: Musings About Winter Workouts

Yesterday I was running hill repeats, and halfway through a bird pooped on my shoulder.

I like to tell myself that it’s good luck, but in reality, I just got shat on.

It’s like nature was saying “Go back inside, it’s cold, you nitwit!” But I beg to differ. Yes, it’s gotten quite cold lately, and although it’s still fall (and today is weirdly balmy), it’s almost winter in Boston for sure. I have a very strong love/hate relationship with winter.  I love the first snow, but hate when it starts to get dirty on the sides of the street (like 10 minutes after it snows). I love the cool, crisp air and being able to dress in cozy sweaters and boots, but I hate the chapped lips, runny noses, and frozen toes that happen so often. I love snowboarding, but hate shoveling almost more than anything, especially in the city.

But there is one thing that I didn’t realize I love about cold weather until last winter when I first started training with November Project: I love training outside in the cold. Yes, there’s a fair chance that you’ll end up with snot freezing on your face (attractive), or you’ll overcompensate with layers so much that you’ll actually overheat, but there’s something about it that just feels bad ass. Raw. Kind of against the rules.

No, I didn’t enjoy it when my toes were numb, red, swollen and eventually painful for half of the day after last week’s stadium session (25 degrees with a 6 mile bike ride there and back will do that to ya), but I did feel inexplicably excited about what I had done. Last year, we ran stadiums while it was actively snowing. We ran stadiums when there were only three sections of the stadium that weren’t covered in ice. We skipped the stadium and ran snow sprints when the steps were literally covered in so much snow and ice that you couldn’t see them. But we were still out there in the snow and the cold, and I loved it.

I may have said I hated it at the time, but I loved it.

I just want to remind people that working out outside in the winter is not against the rules. It may make you a little bit uncomfortable at first, but if you layer up properly and surround yourself with the right crowd, it can be downright exciting. Yesterday when I was running hills, I could have gone home because I was cold and a bird shit on my shoulder. But I looked down at that little pile of poo and kept running my sprints until the set was over. Why? Because for some weird reason, I like to workout when it’s cold, and aint no bird poop gonna stop me from finishing my repeats! 

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be training outside at least one day per week. My lungs will scream, my face will go numb, and the tips of my fingers will ache when I return home and the blood can again circulate to the very ends of my extremities. I’ll curse at the cold weather, I’ll gasp for air and pray for some warm air to soothe the knives in my throat, but when it’s all over, I’ll be proud of myself for sticking it out.

I challenge you to take your workouts outside as well! Go ahead, switch up your routine and go run some hills when it’s cold enough to see your breath. Layer up, bring out your inner badass, and just go. Head to the stadium when you have to layer up so much that you almost can’t move normally.  But whatever you do, don’t slip on any ice. A broken tail bone doesn’t look good on anyone. Although if you did injure yourself, at least you could say that you did it being awesome, instead of doing something lame like shoveling.

sweatersuitOr I guess you could skip the workouts and just do this. Whatever floats your boat. 

Readers: Do you workout outside when it’s cold out? Would you be willing to give it a try this winter? 

30 thoughts on “A Bird Pooped On My Shoulder: Musings About Winter Workouts

  1. LOL I run in the morning because the Army makes me wake up at 0445 and form up at 0600. ;o) I do actually run because – hell I’m UP lets do this. And I cattle prod my running partner – so yea I guess I’m bad ass ;) Love the visuals! Happy monday!

  2. Consider yourself blessed!! I used to be able to just walk a mile or so a day, but now my feet are in so much pain when I’m done, it’s not worth it. I can’t even do it any more. I have a huge bunion on my right foot, and can’t get walking shoes wide enough to fit right! Enjoy it!! I loved walking in the cold!

  3. I am enjoying my cold weather workouts too – I completely agree with your comment about it being bad ass. I feel tough when I’ve been out in the cold – like I am all the stronger for it (mentally and physically.)

  4. I can do this during strongman training, but not for sprints. I will take the first excuse I can find to stop running!!! One memorable evening of event training included pushing sleds in the pouring rain and repeatedly falling on my ass in the mud. By the end of it, my clothes were ruined and I looked like I’d been mud wrestling haha.

  5. I do workout outside year round. However I’m less of a bad ass, because I live in Florida so at the coldest I still only need one or two layers (maybe). I do love colder weather running over heat though! Also I’m going to DC in February and planning to tough it out for a couple of runs while I’m there. Any advice on clothing or otherwise? Maybe a future post about winter running gear….?

  6. I’ve been running since I was 14 and have run outside in all kinds of cold places. I used to live in Fairbanks, Alaska. Running at -20F was pretty interesting!

  7. I am running a Turkey Trot next week and have been running outside in 24 degree weather. It has been surprisingly awesome. It takes more willpower to put on the layers and pysch myself up for heading out into the cold.

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