Run, Comrades, run: Rolling before the birds when you hate the cold

2012-03-19 12:02

Self-pity isn’t for sissies, and neither is this damn winter that’s creeping up on us.

March and April is the time of year when Comrades training becomes difficult if you’re an early-morning runner, like myself, who hates the cold.

Trying to crawl out of bed – in the dark at around 4am, even before there is any bird song to beckon you – to run the Jozi streets – in the dark – before the traffic, was next to impossible this week, and on one or two mornings it was made even more difficult by some drizzle.

Quitting, especially in favour of acquiring a human bed warmer, now seems almost as rewarding as crossing the finishing line in Durban’s Sahara Stadium ... But not quite.

And thank goodness that the end-of-Comrades enticement has so far still managed to overcome the self-pity, or else the training would have lapsed.

On particularly frosty mornings, and even those with only a hint of chill in the air, like last week, I’m reminded of DH Lawrence’s poem, Self-pity:
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.”

Very zen, and very effective.

Another early-morning incentive is realising that I’m the lucky one to be out on the streets by choice at that hour, doing something I really love.

There are thousands of people who sleep on the frosty streets or who are forced to travel to work by foot or by public transport in the dark and early morning hours.

Also, in South Africa we hardly know the chill.

Of course I’m not talking about the Rhodes Run in the southern Drakensberg in the middle of July, where people have reported running waist-deep in snow (one day I’ll hopefully go there too to verify this).

I’m talking about Joburg, where the dry air bites any piece of exposed skin when the mercury drops below zero, or Cape Town, with its bone-chilling wind and rain. Still, these are mere disincentives and don’t really prevent outdoor sports. Just ask the football players and fans who braved Soccer World Cup matches in the dead of winter in 2010.

A few years ago while living in London (still, hardly cold compared to Siberia in winter), I remember going for a 15km run one drizzly morning to train for the Paris Marathon.

At the end of my run I realised that little icicles had formed in my eyebrows and hair. Chilling stuff.

On another occasion I tried to brave the solidifying snow on the pavements, but it was more of a hazardous slip-and-slide rather than a run, so I resorted to gym.

The upside about running in winter in Jozi is that the off-roads are a pleasure. There is no long grass, or much grass at all, to hamper your progress or tickle your legs, and no mud from any glorious thunder storms the night before.

Another plus is that you can build up a mean tan on your long runs over weekends (when you get to run while the sun shines) without getting horribly sunburnt.

On more than one occasion this was mistaken for a holiday tan, and the mere thought is enough to make work stress and sleep deprivation melt away.

Thinking of the positives when training in winter really seems like the path of least resistance. Self-pity, on the other hand, just drains your precious energy.

And I’m too much of a sissy to risk that.



Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.