From Memorial Day to Labor Day, over the last few years, you would find the MOTIVNY team leading runners through heat of the city streets to a destination cooled down by the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Rockaways. Our Summer Long Run Series has become traditional for many and rite of passage for some. As we always continue to provide an experience for runners, new and familiar alike, we wanted to continue to evolve our Long Run Series. This brought us to the launch of our Polar Plunge Run on Leap Day last year.
Taking a page from our Summer playbook, we retooled and adjusted what we needed to provide the same Summer experience in the mid-Winter. With a global pandemic unknowingly around the corner, our Summer Long Series was put on hold, except for a late cameo at the end of September.
After some planning and some adjustments of procedures and protocols, we decided to bring back the Polar Plunge Run. With everything in its proper place and a favorable weather forecast a few weeks out we decided to move forward for the second year in a row.
This year comparative to last year was a different tale. Although we scaled back the number of athletes for COVID-19, the percentage of runners that followed through with a plunge in what felt like freezing water was easily 90% of participants. In 2020, the scattered feelings on the beach upon arrival included fear, doubt, and uncertainty. This time couldn’t have been more different.
Runners longingly crossed the finish line, found our finisher tent, and b-lined to the water. Chatter about plunge strategy spread quickly among finishers. Everyone was taking a different approach but still plotting their eventual entry into the ocean. Some were still processing their 19, 15, or 9 mile run they had just conquered moments before. In the end, the plunge was an experience unique to each individual that attended.
Coach Francisco puts the approach of the plunge into his own words:
“If you approach the water with a lot of energy, trying to overpower the cold, the ocean will give that energy right back to you. It will balance out your energy with its own energy. This was my approach last year. This year I walked myself into the water. I brought a calmness to the water. I didn’t try to fight it, I accepted it. The water accepted me back.”
We spoke to others regarding their first plunge experience:
“Just trying to feel alive” was my motivation for signing up. Especially in winter, especially this year: I’m in want of new experiences, an escape from being stuck inside, movement.
For me, polar plunging was the ultimate goal, something I’d never done before. There was no way I wasn't going in. In fact, I saw the 15-mile run as the means of reaching the beach. I'm less inclined to run an arbitrary half marathon on my own around the city, but I jump at the chance to use my body to get from point A to point B. There’s something so raw yet pure about that -- legs as transportation, stripped back.
What made the run+plunge unique, and an experience I’ll crave again, was the joining of body, mind, and spirit. The strength to venture further than usual, the determination to overcome the ocean, and finally, the energy created within by the accomplishment of going beyond.”
“Historically I tend to run solo. Given my work as a therapist running is normally my time to be with self, and process all my thoughts and feelings. The simple act of going on my 1st group run since the pandemic was a major shift outside of my comfort zone. I enjoyed the community and accountability of the crew. I have always wanted to do a polar plunge and never found the guts to do so. I'm glad you created a space for me to take that chance. I thought to myself: 'I tell clients to get out of their comfort zone daily, so now it's my time!
I was on the struggle bus the last few miles and I'm grateful to have run with Megan who kept me going toward the beach. I thought to myself "i'm not going to overthink it, I'm just going to jump in'. As I approached the beach the water brought me to a calm space. Connecting with the ocean that day felt very poetic. Going with the flow. Easing into the waves. Embracing the cold.
Seeing the smiles on everyone's faces once I arrived put me at ease. I was a bit nervous that my body temp would drop before taking the plunge. I imagined the ocean that day as one big natural ice bath for a few seconds. I had just run 15 miles.
Like any post long run ice bath I had a little hesitation. Jumping in felt invigorating, refreshing and restorative. Would I do it again? The answer is simple: Yes. I would do it in a heartbeat!”
As New York City starts to open back up and the weather begins to warm up, expect MOTIVNY to continue to create events designed to get you outdoors and push your limits. To be among the first to know, follow us on Instagram for regular announcements and sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter.