Seasons According to Vibram and Barefoot Runners

We're all familiar with the regular seasons here in New England but the seasons take on a different meaning for a runner. To the typical runner, the seasons run as such.

Length: Two months if we're lucky, but usually two weeks in April or May, crammed in between wintry cold and humid heat.

Characteristics:  A perfect-medium temperature that suits many runners.  Great scenery of an awakening natural landscape, birds chirping, and all that good stuff.

Running Experience:  Often a season of empowerment for the runner after being trapped on Dante's Inferno (also know as "the treadmill") at the gym for months with the person to the left of you, humming and singing every third or fifth word from "Eye of the Tiger" and the person to the right of you, running at 2-3 mph faster than you and not even breaking a sweat.  You're out on the road gaining mileage and feeling the fresh air and thinking how wonderful the world is.

Length: Usually several months from late May until early September.

Characteristics:  Hot.  Humid.  And the occasional lightning bolt to avoid.  Highly aromatic due to the interwoven mix of tar and roadkill sprinkled with the occasional hint of skunk (unless, of course, the roadkill is the skunk--then it's like triple word score on Scrabble).

Running Experience:  "DEAR LORD, why is it so damn hot?  Seriously, when did I end up in hell?"  Be prepared for having high expectations crushed by crippling heat.  It's also the height of hallucination season, so there's that to enjoy.  If the Spring runner was working towards bathing suit season, it's only because one might as well be running in a bathing suit during the summer given the amount of sweat produced.

Length: September to Thanksgiving (no negotiation there; it's officially winter).

Characteristics:  Crisp air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, long sleeve shirts, and regular infusions of nostalgia produced as the icons of Halloween and Thanksgiving begin appearing everywhere.

Running Experience:  It's great to be a runner.  It's also useful to burn off more energy now because we know the feasting of HalloThanXMas is coming.  Motivation for running is usually present, even if time is at a minimum.  You're also constantly fighting the urge to play in the piles of leaves you pass by (ok, that's probably just met).

Length: Thanksgiving until March (at least).

Characteristics: DAMN COLD!

Running Experience:  The season most runners find themselves seriously challenged to be inspired with their running.  You've got roughly three types of runners for the winter:
  • Hibernator:  "That's it, see you next March when I'll be working off this newly acquired 10 pounds."  Giving up the running in full or part, these folks lose motivation to run outside but can't suffer to get on a treadmill (and no one can blame them).  
  • Gymbers:  "I guess I should use this gym membership I've had all year."  Returning to the gym and climbing up on that treadmill or maybe cross training during the winter.  
  • Polar Bears:  "Oh, it's -10 degrees?  I can't wait to see how quickly  my spit freezes."  These runners are almost gunho about the winter and love to get out and log in the miles.
Of course, Vibram and barefoot runners may experience these seasons a bit differently because of their foot apparel (or lack there of).  In many ways they experience all of the above, but because they also experience the seasons much more through their feet, the seasons hits them in other ways:

The Foot Experience:

  • Rocky:  Street sweepers are my friend; but they generally don't cover sidewalks.
  • Squishy/Mushy: Reminiscent of treks through the swamp as a kid, but still unsettling.  Except when it's not (such as when your feet desperately need the rest of softer ground).

Catch phrase:  "A beautiful spring day!  Look at the budding flowers--OW!  Goddam rocks and debris!  Oh crap, that was a puddle."

The Foot Experience:

  • Hot:  When the you're never quite sure if your blisters are from the barefoot running or indication of burning because of the boiling tar.

Catch phrase:  "OW!  Goddam hot tar.  It's cool, I mean, do I really need a sole?"

The Foot Experience:

  • Crunchy:  Leaves, branches, and nature's debris clutter the sidewalks making for disguised pitfalls.
  • Slippery:  Wet. Leaves.  Ew.

Catch phrase:  "What beautiful folia---OW!  Goddam acorns under those leaves!  Ahhhh...I almost slide onto my ass back there--damn wet leaves!"

The Foot Experience:

  • Cold.  FREAKING COLD!:  It's not until you get home if you decide if your feet are still there or worth saving.
  • Slushy:  The worst for the barefoot and Vibram runner.  It's enough to send us back home, immediately and give up till spring.
  • Rocky:  No street-sweepers till March and plenty of rocks, rock salt, and torn up roads from snow removals.

Catch phrase:  "BRRRRRR!  What happen to my feet!"

What are your favorite running seasons?

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