While some winter weather strongly suggests heading inside to a treadmill, I encourage you to embrace rather than flee the elements.
I hope you are complementing your winter running with activities like spinning, cross-country skiing, swimming and snow-shoeing. However the best winter training tool is embodied by Finnish “Sisu,” a very old word in Finnish history meaning to believe in yourself and have the guts to do it and the craziness to endure.
Exuberance for all sports and games played in cold weather conditions is an important part of childhood. Growing up in this way, they become hardier people and better runners. As adults, running in winter teaches us how to thrive on the power of nature and the elements. It makes us more independent, more accustomed to hardships and unflinching with discomfort.
If we let it, running in winter suits our souls like those of the Finns. Summers are short in Finland and the imminent return of darkness creates a higher sense of urgency, lending to an existential bent to running and life.
What about you? Are your winter runs leaving you exhausted, sweaty and smiling, like you’ve completely worked every system in your body? If not, next time bring your Sisu!
“Running is in the blood of every Finn. When you see these pure deep forests, these fertile wide-open fields with their typical red painted worker’s houses, these ridges with their clusters of trees, the endless blue horizon that shades over into lakes, then you are overwhelmed by excitement and you feel the urge to run – because we have no wings to fly. Just to run on light feet through this Nordic landscape for mile after mile and hour after hour after hour like an animals in the forest. They began to run because of a profound compulsion, because a strange dreamlike landscape, full of enchanting mysteries, called to them. It is not the hunt for records, for praise or honor that spurs on the sons of Scandinavia to almost superhuman achievement. Their awe inspiring times are a way of giving thanks to Mother Earth.”
– The Miracle of Finnish Running (1930) – (from Running A Global History by Thor Gottas)