Running in the late-fall, mid-winter, and then early-spring months in Poland is quite shitty, to say the least. And I’m not talking about the weather. Sure, it’s cold, rainy, snowy, even icy at times. But giving up running due to -5 degrees Celsius outside is not reason enough to quit running.
Keeping your lungs healthy is.
Poland is still stuck in the coal age when it comes to heat. It’s stuck in the coal age mostly due to political reasons, but while the quality of the coal itself has been going down, and the cost of this resource has slowly been creeping up, the smell of burnt coal is unavoidable as soon as you go outside in the cold winter months. And with a coal burning furnace at their home, some burn literally anything to save up on coal. Plastic bottles, tires, really shitty cheap coal, those wooden cabinets you had painted so many times but finally exchanged for IKEA…, it’s all fair game if it burns.
You’d think that living in a modern city, and not out in the village somewhere, people would be more educated on keeping the air quality to breathable levels. And you’d be wrong. Going for just a 25-minute walk with Fado would leave us smelling like a barbequed Goodyear tire. Air quality sensors with data freely available via online sites only confirm the norm being surpassed by anywhere from 300 to 1000 percent! That’s no air to breathe on a slow walk, let alone a long run.
And since I only do outdoor runs (no gym membership), my kilometers reflected that. I tried to run on the better days, and in January, I ran a local mountain winter half-marathon which got me up there in mileage.
But the winter is well behind us now. The weather has been steadily warming up and with the air quality has been improving as well. So I started getting out more as well.
I was at 84km this morning on the 31st of March, and that was motivation enough to do a long steady run to push me over that one-hundred mark for the month of March. Of course, I didn’t know exactly when that one hundred would hit, so I added an extra kilometer to get me over the line just in case.
Today’s run wasn’t great. It was quite windy and I ran after a hearty lunch, but what I’ve noticed is that even in those crappy conditions my laps are staying below the 7:00 minute/km mark, somehow even speeding up towards the end. On better days, I even started to dip below the 6:00 minute/km mark, as seen below on the run from exactly a week ago. Dipping below and staying around the 6-minute spot is quite impressive to me.
This means that things are improving. And nothing motivates more than seeing results first hand. Getting out in the open on a Sunday afternoon is also quite inspirational. I mean, check out that running view!