Resolving a Contradiction

Mao Zedong once wrote that the only way to deal with a contradiction is to break through it. So it is with me and winter running.

I don’t like running in cold weather. I like hot, humid weather, and would rather run under a blazing August sun than anything else. But I live in Canada, and so I have to face the reality of winter running. This morning, it was -6C (21F) and windy. I had a number of choices. I could: 1/ stay in bed; 2/ have a nice hot shower; 3/ run indoors on my treadmill; or 4/ go outside.

In choosing to run outside, I resolved a contradiction, which is this – one of the best ways for me to get warm in the winter is to run outside. At an LSD (Long Slow Distance) pace, which is what I wanted for today’s run, at about the 8 minute mark, I get warm. Not coincidentally, that’s the point when the endorphins kick in and I get my runner’s high. If I can bite the bullet, get outside, and run to that 8 minute mark, I know I’ll be nice and toasty for the rest of the run.

Contradictions, large and small, are part of the human condition – and the ability to recognize and resolve contradiction seems to be an inherent quality in us. There’s something hugely satisfying in achieving the breakthroughs. This morning’s 12K run was a pleasure, even though, by the time I was halfway through it, it had started snowing. Cold, wind, and snow – but toasty and warm.

Maybe if we resolve the minor contradictions in our lives, we’ll be better able to break through the larger ones. That’s a good thought, and a comforting one.


  1. I’m up against a similar contradiction… I want to push my body, and cold weather running makes sense as a limit tester during this time of year, but we are on our third day straight of minus 28C weather. Your #2 and #3 options are looking pretty good 🙂 So much for the ‘ease’ into cold weather barefoot running here in Southern AB.

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