Winter running – February highlights a few days early

Winter running is ROUGH. There’s snow and ice everywhere, it’s dark all the time, the trails are all closed or snowed over, and cold viruses are abundant. I’ve been struggling to stay motivated, and to avoid injury on the bumpy, slippery winter streets. Podcasts and the promise of post-run hot cocoa (and warming my hands up on poor MountainMan’s furnace-like stomach) have been lifesavers on the more miserable days.

However, in spite of the regular bouts of wishing I was somewhere tropical and my generally poor attitude I’ve actually managed to get in a very solid month of training just by shoving myself out the door on a regular basis. So far my average weekly mileage is the highest it’s been since right after undergrad, and I’m getting in some road/track workouts that are promising for the upcoming racing season. All these frozen runs may actually be worthwhile!

Some highlights from the month:

1.Calf massages from MountainMan – my calves have been reacting to speed work by turning into whiney balls of ouch, and MM has been very generous with the calf torture. I’m a lucky gal! I think he may just get a kick out of watching me squirm…

2.    This workout-sunset combo: the workout was very grumpy and snot-rocket-puncuated but did involve some magical sub-6:00 pace 400’s! My legs are gradually remembering what ‘fast’ feels like and it’s cool to feel the neuromuscular changes.

3.  The mountain climb race, even though it was much more grueling than expected. It’s amazing what some fun post-run time with friends and amazing post-run brunch can do to cheer one up! I think I may have convinced MM to take advantage of his speed-hiking skills to climb his way to a men’s win next year…

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So much pain face :-O I look like I’m doing a painful-scream duet with my calves.

4. The moment I discovered that the local high school track was plowed off. Look at that gorgeously un-icy speed work surface ❤img_9274

5. New (garishly bright) shoes! I’m going to be so sad when the ‘obnoxiously bright’ running shoe trend ends…img_9358

What have everyone else’s February running highlights been? Any fun strategies for dealing with the late-winter struggles?

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Running thoughts

Some running thoughts as I drink my hot cocoa and think about getting up the motivation to climb the several sets of stairs required to shower and go to bed:
1) It’s much easier to be happy about cross-training when the ground is coated in ice and snow and good running form and speed are nearly impossible anyhow.

 
2) Nordic skiing may actually whip my feet/ankles/lower legs into shape. 2 miles onSunday and my muscles were screaming. 

  
3) All this snow is great for my core. I did core today and realized those muscles were already fatigued from yesterday’s ski and today’s snowy run. All the stabilization!

  
 
My latest running log entry expresses my thoughts about the last bit of training and my goals for the month very nicely (or, at least, nicely enough that I’d rather not re-type it):

  
I will admit that it is much easier to be positive now that my calf is feeling normal more often than not and I have the addition of the snowy, icy weather to make cross-training seem almost more worthwhile than slipping my way through a slow, shuffling run. 

  
Creating a daily checklist in my training log, which allows some flexibility (e.g. subbing in a bike or ski session for a run), has helped maintain my positive attitude while also allowing me to feel like a dedicated athlete by obsessively check things off a list. Win-win 😛

  

Snowy roads

Winter weather is here to stay – the weekend brought several inches of snow and the forecast is predicting a steady parade of freezing days to come.  Perfect days for cuddling with my overheating laptop while drinking entire pots of coffee and wearing my *super stylish* sweatpants.  Much less perfect for the running – I’m not a fan of the combination of numb feet, treacherous ice patches, and the necessity to fumble for my watch buttons through 1 or 2 layers of gloves.

However, I am remembering why I do occasionally absolutely love winter running:

1)  You get to feel all hardcore and beastly.  When people look at you in horror as you come in from the ice storm/blizzard/-10 degree windchill conditions, take it as a compliment.  And then head to the nearest sink ASAP to scrub that giant glob of frozen snot/spit/sweat off your face.

2)  Running at night? No problem!  Snow is about 500% more reflective than asphalt.  This means you can actually see where you’re going at 5 freaking pm when it’s somehow already pitch black out.  Yay!

3)  Running in snow is a killer workout.  Have you ever tried running in 2 feet of snow?  It’s probably the most efficient method ever for maxing out your heart rate.  A nice side benefit is that you have a nice soft surface to collapse onto when your legs give out from exhaustion.  

4)  Hot chocolate >>>> gatorade.  

5)  Running tights.  If it were socially appropriate to wear running tights all day, every day I would probably wear nothing else.  Luckily running pants are a little more flattering/modest and equally comfy – just got these ones from Oiselle and they made my run yesterday in the blustery, cloudy pre-snow-storm conditions much more survivable.  

6)  Christmas lights!  My junior year my most memorable run came during finals week.  I was in the midst of a miserable cold and had spent all day avoiding the 8-miler on my schedule by studying for my calc III exam while gradually burying myself in a pitiful layer of used tissues.  I finally emerged around dark, strapped on my YakTrax and headed out the door to get the dang run in.  I was halfway down some neighborhood street when the lights began to flip on.  Suddenly the entire street was lit with twinkling christmas lights.  I spent the rest of my run cheerfully winding my way through the glow of the colored bulbs and completely forgot about my sniffly nose and looming math exam.  

See, it’s not all bad!  Now the challenge is just to remember all the lovely parts in the middle of the next appendage-freezing, shiver-filled run… 

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