February 19, 2013

Running in the Cold

Jessica Kumari takes a jog in 17 degrees with a Brooklyn athlete.

Jessica: Today’s forecast, a balmy 17 degrees. Factor in the wind chill and it drops to just eight!

Do people ever look at you and just say that you are crazy?

Gary Atlas: Everyday.

Jessica: That is because everyday for the past five years, Gary Atlas of Coney Island New York has been out here on the boardwalk in just his shorts for a six-mile run followed by a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. Gary says he started this routine during a difficult time when he was caring for his sick mother.

Gary: I was a wreck. She was dying. I was depressed. I wasn’t in a good mental state of mind, so the run and swim helped me to cool it.

Jessica: Gary’s mother eventually passed away but he didn’t stop. In fact, Gary says since he started back in 2007, he has never missed a day.

What day is today?

Gary: 1,951.

Jessica: On a day like today when it is so cold out, what motivates you?

Gary: Well, the streak is part of it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. And also, it’s a challenge.

Jessica: Clothing would make the challenge too easy for Gary. He says the harsh conditions help motivate him.

Jessica: Just to prove to you how cold it is and that I am not lying, look at these rocks. They are covered in ice.

But is exercising everyday, even in extreme weather, good for you?

Ooh! My hands just got really cold.

To find out, we went to the doctor who treats the elite runners of the New York City Marathon.

Rosen: I think it’s an impressive thing, but I don’t think it’s certainly for everyone. For almost all training routines, we try to emphasize some sort of variety. Certainly rest days should be an important part of almost any training routine. To do that, every single day is probably a little bit too much.

Jessica: Doctor Rosen does recommend staying active all year round.

Rosen: Most people feel that getting into a regular exercise program is going to give them some type of focus, some type of discipline that can help you in all aspects of life.

Gary: It’s given me some patience. Makes me easier to get along with. In my younger days, before I was doing this, I was a little more confrontational, a little more rambunctious. It’s mellowed me.

Jessica: Six miles right there! Awesome! Part one is done, and now it is part two, which is the swimming part. We are just going to run right into the water! Ok, just kidding! This is where I stop!

So I didn’t go into the water because it is 40-degree water, and that is just where I draw the line.

But for Gary, it was just another day at the beach.

How is that water?

Gary: Actually warmer than it is out here. It is always a beautiful day after you finish, no matter what the conditions are outside.

Jessica: Gary is the man! Gary is my hero! You rock dude!

Gary: Thank you, baby! Thanks, guys!

Jessica: Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.


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