The other day I was limping through a run in 2 degree weather and it reminded me of my first car. My first car was a second hand VW Square back (picture a stretched mini coup), standard shift for those that may remember. The engine was air cooled, so the heating system in the car worked simply by opening up the vent to the air blowing through the engine so that it blew into the car. I’m sure it worked great when the car was new but by the time I was the owner the vents to carry the air into the car (which ran under the car) had rusted out. On a good day you could get enough warm air to keep the windshield defrosted and a half decent job of doing the same for the feet of the driver. However if you were in the back seat it was like a scene from Frozen. As luck would have it I carpooled with 3 other people. They drew straws for the front passenger seat and the others got blankets. Cold and old are a nasty combination.
That brings me back to one of my recent runs. It’s a cruel reality that as I get older it just plain takes the body longer to warm up. By “warm up” I mean the years of accumulated aches and pains of shortened muscles and ancient joints become pliable enough where my running doesn’t resemble the Tin Man after a rain storm without his oil can. Local teenagers at their bus stop in the mornings have an interesting way of putting it in perspective with comments like “nice Frankenstein imitation” and “are you trying out for a part on the Walking Dead”.
Fair enough…it ain’t pretty getting old as a runner, but what makes it even worst is the cold weather. I’ve put together a basic formula that goes something like this:
- For every decade over 40 it take at least a mile to warm up
- For every 10 degrees below freezing, double the distance to warm up
At 60 years old and 20 degrees outside that’s 4 miles just to reach the point where little kids walking to school don’t pass you. At 2 degrees (like it was the other morning) you can actual finish your run before you ever warm up. The icicles hanging from your hat bear witness to the fact you barely got warm enough to work up a sweat.
I really shouldn’t complain as I really don’t mind the cold that much and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about getting old. In fact I should be thankful that most days I can still get out and shuffle along a few miles without falling on my face or ending up in the hospital. My running may not win any awards for speed or how it looks but at least it reminds me I’m not dead…yet.