The problem with spring is that it isn’t distributed evenly. On the equinox in the southern U.S., it’s already edging toward summer. In most of Canada, it’s still very much winter. Los Angeles remains 70 and sunny — although this year, those gorgeous days and days of pleasant have been broken up by days of rain. Heck, in Australia, the spring equinox means autumn is on its way.

And in the Northeast, which is where I live, spring means inches of snow followed by feet of mud followed by enough ice to keep it exciting. I should work for the Upstate New York tourism board because I make it sound so delightful.

The advent of “spring” means that one of my most cherished seasons of running is coming to an end. No, not microspike season or windburn season. What I will miss is my indoor track time.

A grey haired woman is looking into the camera and indoor track lanes fill the right half of the image

It’s nice to have the track all to myself.

On the days when running outside seems like it’ll end in a trip to the E.R. because of a broken ankle or frostbite (which is most days January through April), I head to our big college’s indoor track. Could I find a treadmill to run on? Probably. I could also create a playlist of jackhammers and nails on chalkboards, which sounds about as appealing as a session on the ‘mill.

My love for the indoor track might resemble Stockholm Syndrome, where the kidnapped starts to think their kidnapper is a great human being because they have no other options. I didn’t love my first season of running eight laps per mile high above the basketball court. Or my second, third, or fourth season. But now I look forward to my track in the sky and will be wistful when I bid it farewell for now.

Given that my younger kid is about to graduate from high school, “wistful” might just be my default state for the foreseeable future. Still. Indoor tracks are greater than we give them credit for.

The best time to run is right when the building opens, like 6 a.m. Most of the lights haven’t been turned on yet and you run in and out of deep shadows. You’re usually alone, which means you can really fall into a meditative flow state. Plus, you can switch directions whenever you want. It’s a whole chill vibe.

If you want the run to go quickly, hit the track when one of the other sports is practicing. Women’s lacrosse is one of my faves. Not only does the team play bangin’ tracks during their warm-ups, watching these women hype each other up during drills is a hoot. We should all support each other so well.

A frozen landscape

The view from the track. There’s a soccer field under there somewhere.

Sometimes, the men’s track team will bust out laps or practice sprint starts while I’m plodding along. For one shining moment years ago, I kept pace with the slower members of the team. Then they finished their warm-up laps and left me in the dust. We spent the rest of my run dodging and weaving around each other.

Avoiding other runners and walkers is a nice distraction when grinding out long runs — and, yes, I do long runs on the indoor track. On a ten-mile run, the spatial calculations change every few steps. Can I fit in the gap between the speed walker and the dude doing speedwork? How about around speedwork dude as super-swift retiree passes on my right? If I were stronger at math, I could whip up some kind of equation to describe all of our orbits.

Really, though, the best part of long runs inside is that I can put my water and snacks on a windowsill and snag whatever I need like Des Linden grabbing her hydration from the table in Boston. Also just like Des in Boston, I can easily zip into the potty (mine has running water) when nature calls. So we’re pretty much the same, Des and me.

Gray haired woman in a blue shirt on an indoor track. A snowy landscape is in the window over her left shoulder.

Another day; another eight laps to the mile.

Mostly, though, running on the indoor track makes me feel safe somehow. Safe from the weather, of course, and it is great fun to watch a storm whip around outside while being warm inside. But it also makes me feel safe from having to think about traffic or the dark or my route. I can just lean into the non-excitement of circling the same space for miles on end while my mind mellows.