By Lauren MacDonald
Although it is only the middle of January, this winter has been a COLD one, making it doubly difficult for those of us who choose to run outside. Temperatures in the negatives have been regular occurrences and although I like to think I’m hardy and semi-immune to cold after growing up in CNY winters, the first day I stepped outside on a negative day it literally took my breath away. Just shoveling the snow in that temperature was a chore, let alone running in it. Needless to say, it has definitely cramped my winter-running style. Add to this the fact that I abhor running inside, especially on a treadmill and I know I’m going to have to work hard at motivating myself to keep up with my running during what is shaping up to be a long, cold winter. That’s where hygge comes in.
Some years ago, the word and concept "hygge" was all the rage. It’s a Danish word and cultural concept that roughly translates to coziness, although that is a somewhat poor translation. In 2016, it was one of the “words of the year”; multiple books have been written on bringing hygge to your lifestyle. From my extensive research (i.e. pursuing the multiple articles I’ve stumbled across), hygge is a key concept in Scandinavian winters that includes good food, friends and coziness in the face of their dark, cold and long winters. I figured that it might be a useful concept to employ in my fight against the winter slump.
Friends and Family:
Crucial to hygge is time with friends and family. As I’ve said before, my father is my favorite running partner, but lately I’ve been running solo due to my hectic schedule. Instead, the past week or so, I’ve taken the time to run with him and to walk with my mom. Just that simple act of setting aside the time to run and walk with them made it that much more enjoyable. Find a partner, friend, family member or running group to share your run with! And if you have to be inside, find someone to run or walk next to on the treadmill. The company will make it all the more enjoyable and keep you motivated.
Layer up and head out:
As winter runners, we know the importance of good layers, and the concept of hygge encourages cozy layers and outside activities. Supposedly, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothes.” With this in mind, the last time I balked at running outside, I doubled my normal layers and headed out anyway. I tend to always err on the side of less clothing, because I don't like being too warm. When in doubt, add another layer or two. I’ve begun to realize that I can always take off clothing mid-run, but I will always regret not adding that jacket in the middle of the run as I turn into the wind.
Although this one does not directly relate to running, I’d be remiss if I did not mention it as a part of hygge. Good, nourishing, warm food, often shared with friends or family is at the center of hygge. I’ve always loved soups and stews in the winter and lately I’ve been cobbling together slow-cooker soups that can stay on for hours. Knowing that when I return from a run I will have warm food keeps me going through the more difficult miles.
So as the winter weather continues, find your hygge. Perhaps this weekend, plan to meet with friends for a long run outside or throw on some extra clothing and go snowshoeing. Go to the gym with an old friend and then out for brunch. Time your run so that you come home to a just finished slow-cooker stew. Do what you can to enjoy your winter run, not just suffer through it!