It's officially December, and even though it's been unseasonably warm here in New Hampshire this year, the temperatures are hovering below freezing for much of the day. For normal people, that means hats, gloves and winter jackets. For runners, that means it's time to break out the running tights and delight your neighbors.
Yesterday, as I prepared for my icy 10-mile run along the blustery Atlantic coast, I was struck by indecision. Should I wear pants? Should I wear tights? If I do, should I wear them with, or without shorts? Can I pull it off? Will I be ridiculed by passing motorists? At that moment, I understood clearly why it takes my teenage daughter so long to pick out her clothes each morning.
I decided to wear the tights. No shorts on the outside, just tights. I've run over 6,000 miles in the last four years, and I'm training for Boston. I've earned the right to run in tights without hesitation. And yet, I hesitated. I recalled a comment made by my loving wife only a few weeks earlier. She had said that I "looked like a member of a modern dance troupe" when I modeled my new ASICS running tights.
Undeterred, I chose comfort and function over possible embarrassment. But, before heading out the door I decided to consult my daughter for any last-minute advice. "Dad... No! Just... No," she said, as she waved her hands in front of her face like she was fending off a cloud of black flies.
The good news, is that it wasn't the tights that horrified her. It was my color blind choice of an electric blue top with green and brown tights. I swapped it out with a neon yellow jacket, and I was given the green light with only the slightest scowl of disapproval.
I ran comfortably, enjoying the freedom of running in tights. The first two miles were a little chilly, but after warming up I realized how much I had missed running in the cold weather. I find the cold air to be crisp, fresh, and invigorating. The miles seem to slide by almost effortlessly at times.
I'm happy to report that there were no blaring horns from passing cars, no insults from roadside hecklers, and I was not actively recruited for a role in an upcoming performance of The Nutcracker. Runners are a different breed, and I think most people have come to accept our eccentricities. Back in the 1970s it was frowned upon to wear shorts and run in public. We've come a long way, baby.