Winter runs can mean less pain, more gain

An optimistic approach about running in the cold makes the miles go by easier

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Ann Ryan

Running Columnist

I have been hearing a new vocabulary word (it's probably been around forever, I just didn't know it). The term is "sufferfest." It's an extension of the old "no pain, no gain" rule which dictates we have to experience suffering to move forward with our fitness plans. It also hints at this being a group endeavor, as in "hey, drag your pals down into the pain cave with you!"

Let's get a little crazy. How about, instead of seeing our newly affirmed fitness resolve as a glass mostly empty, needing to be filled day by day with dreaded workouts, we flip the narrative. How about viewing those fresh, clean calendar pages as opportunities. Yes, it's a challenge to get up at dark o'thirty to go for a run, (however the days ARE getting longer, teeny bit by teeny bit, post-solstice!) and it's a challenge to go to work out after a long day or shift at work.

Don't let the soft, persistent voice of "Quit" win the day. Instead, listen to the cheering, back-slapping side of your brain that says, "Boy, I feel GREAT for pushing through that run / walk / workout."

This time of year, we're typically not running against other competitors. Rather, we are fighting that little voice that tries to make us quit. So, rolling with what little momentum we can muster right now, how about positive reinforcement in the shape of running a RACE, on the LAKEFRONT, on January 26. While it sounds a bit insane given the unpredictability of a Chicago winter, the F3 Half-Marathon and 5K event always draws a great field and it's a fierce way to say "In your face, old man winter!" (At press time, I don't know if registration will still be open, but here's the link:

Or, giving ourselves a little more time to plan and prepare, how about one of these options:

On March 24, take over downtown Chicago with 30,000 or so friends and run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. There's certainly enough of a field to keep it competitive, or you can view it as a roughly 5-mile moving party with beer at the finish. Find registration info at   

Or April 7, participate in the 38th annual running (alternately, walking!) of Oak Park's own Good Life Race.  There are separate 5K races for men and women, a 5K walk, a youth mile and junior dashes for the under-5 athletes. In 2018, GLR had nearly 1600 total registrants across all these events.

 The race itself is a CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) competitive circuit race and has won distinction as CARA's race of the year numerous times. Need a little added motivation / feel-good? The Good Life Race is a not-for-profit event, which has raised well over $100,000 in just the past six years for its charitable partners, including the Collaboration for Early Childhood and the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. More information, registration and (also important!) volunteer opportunities found at

This is just the beginning…

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