As I head out for my first run in six days I hope I am over a nasty cold that I’ve been battling. I find my running is now entirely different. Not because I’ve changed but because the environment outside had changed. During my absence from running a foot and a half of snow fell and the temperatures dropped significantly. Cold,ice,snow and darkness are just some of the things that come to mind when running outdoors in the winter. But instead of looking at these as negatives I try to embrace the chilly season. There are positives if only one chooses to see them. There are fewer people on the trails and roads as the cold temperatures and lack of daylight keep many from venturing out. I like this solitude when running. As necessity requires me to run more in the city as the high country and trails are now snowbound, winter is my ally in keeping my running haunts people free. In warmer months I savor my time on the trails as I am able to connect with nature while running. It’s fairly easy when one has rushing rivers, majestic mountains and forests as your companion. But when running in the city it’s not as easy to pick up on nature’s cues as it’s overwhelmed by our human constructs and noise. But when running on a snow covered street, in the bitter cold and darkness while many are just getting out of bed I can still get connect with her. Hearing the crunch of the snow underfoot as I run, feeling the bite of the cold air on my nose, cheeks and gloved hands reminds me of natures’ constant presence and influence on us. The rise of the sun is all the more exquisite and welcome as it brings the promise of warmth. The softer, pastel colors of a sunrise or sunset stand in contrast to those in the summer which tend to be brighter, more saturated in color. I can see more signs of wildlife as the footprints of the bird, rabbit, coyote are all visible while the snow remains. It’s a visual reminder that other creatures share this place with us and are ever present even if we don’t see or hear them. The cold itself, the harshness of winter reminds one of their mortality and insignificance in the grand scheme of the universe. The mere act of running becomes more physically challenging in the winter. One must contend with breaking trail in the fresh snow, adjust each step and footfall as the uneven frozen snow packed ground forces us to adjust when in warmer months this same road is flat and smooth and boring. Winter brings a new focus as we come to the close of a year and look forward to and plan for the next. Races to sign up for, preparations and training that must started to meet these new goals and aspirations. The winter running season has much to offer us if we just adjust our focus and attitude. Embracing the wintertime season and its challenges will make us stronger and more appreciative of the easier times.