Tag Archives: winter running

Confession Time

19 Jan

I run alone pretty well 95% of the time. Up until this fall, that number was a strong 100%. Since starting running with my lovely lady friends twice a month, I’ve been getting a little social contact in. But most of the time, it’s just me and my music hitting the streets and pounding the pavement.

This means I’ve developed terrible habits.

I dance a lot to my music. And I mean a lot. I try to rein it in when cars pass me but there have been more than a few that have come around corners to surprise me mid-smooth moves. Mostly my moves involve a lot of arm flailing. A little bit of creative foot-work makes for what I’m sure is a hot mess of terrible for early morning commuters. I don’t really care. I have fun, and if a few people might get scarred for life, I’m willing to take that chance.

My moves are only slightly worse than this.

I also sing along to my music. This is less noticeable to passing drivers but much more horrifying for people I see on the trails. I’m sorry to everyone who I’ve ever burst upon while belting out the lyrics to “I Will Survive”. I know at first you were afraid, you were petrified, but I hope you’ve gotten over it.

It's pretty much this except I'm wearing clothes and I jump out of bushes.

I specifically bought both pairs of my winter gloves for their snot-wiping capabilities. Running so early on cold days makes for some runny nose issues. I’ve perfected a snot-blasting technique but some still needs a little wipe.

I spit with general abandon. This habit is particularly unappetizing on race days but I do honestly try to rein it in.

But the weirdest thing I’ve developed is what prompted me to write this post. I noticed the other morning that I am pretty rude to stop signs. I revel in not having to obey them as a pedestrian (although I do look both ways, thanks Mom) but I also see them as a kind of downer. They keep telling me to stop. Sometimes this idea seems pretty appealing when it’s -5*C and I can’t feel my face but I know I have 10k left to do. Seeing that big red sign proclaiming exactly the same thing as an evil little inner voice keeps yelling makes me angry. So I treat stop signs with contempt in order to shut that bugger up.

Screw you, inanimate object with no actual power over me!

I’ll run up to a stop sign, and sometimes I try to be polite, and it tells me to STOP and I say “Don’t think I shall thanks,” and continue on. Sometimes there are people around so I’ll just make a subtle rude hand gesture (please imagine Ross Gellar’s alternative to the finger). Sometimes I’ll be extremely rude and swear at the thing. I also do that when people are around if my back hurts or something.

So do these strange running-alone habits make me abnormal? Do you have similar weird habits that you probably wouldn’t have developed if you ran with people more? Let me know, and otherwise, happy trails!

More Talk of Hills

16 Jan Feel free to picture something like this.

Wooooooooo...hoo.

Things are moving along training-wise. In addition to speedwork, I’ve added some hill training into my schedule. And, just like the speedwork sessions, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve done any work on hills.

My schedule this morning called for 4-5 hill repeats of 200m at a 5-10k pace. I decided on both 5 repeats and a 5k pace (about 6:00/km) because I had the day off yesterday and was feeling well-rested. I started out at my house and did a 2k warm-up before finding myself at the bottom of a little hill I like to call Vimy Ridge.

Ugh. War looks terrible.

It’s actually fairly tame, with a steady incline, and is around the 200m my schedule demanded. The unfortunate thing was that the skies decided to open up and dump a couple centimetres on me just as I started the repeats.

Literally, the snow started when I started the hills and then stopped the second I got home. And you know what sucks about snow? It’s very susceptible to wind. That stuff was all up in my face the entire time! No matter what direction I was facing. Wtf Nature. Try doing me a solid and choose one direction in which to assault me.

Also, I may or may not have broken my iPod. I was trying to take a photo of the snow-covered hill but couldn’t figure out how to make it take photos rather than video. Then it stopped responding to all commands. I think that might have something to do with my snow-soaked gloves and that white stuff falling from the sky? Yeah maybe. It’s working well now (so far) so I’m not worried. You guys will just have to imagine the hill.

Feel free to picture something like this.

Thankfully I was otherwise prepared and had my heavy-duty gloves and everything. Still no ghetto snow-sneakers. The repeats themselves went well, and I even sprinted the last one, for the lulz. I had a quick 1k run home and ended with a total distance of 5k.

So far it’s been a great week. Excuse me while I ruin that by reminding myself that I have about 28 chapters of textbooks to read. Happy Monday everyone!

Pleased as a Peach

15 Jan

Winter has officially arrived. Snow is on the ground and seems like it might want to stick around. I was not aware that snow was in the forecast in any way, shape or form. Imagine my surprise yesterday morning when I stepped outside to start my LSD run to clear skies and green lawns only to have a snowplow pass me, lights flashing.

Not that kind of LSD guys. LSD = Long slow distance. Save the hallucinogens for after the run.

I was absolutely bewildered. Then it passed again, a few kilometers later, as I continued past snowless land. Finally, as I crested a particularly nasty hill, I arrived midtown to the valley between two mountains and encountered a couple inches of the stuff. And then it started hailing on me. The snow has been creeping towards my house ever since. Needless to say, I was not prepared for running in the snow. I haven’t made my ghetto snow sneakers yet (the general plan is too drive a handful of very short screws into the soles of my old pair) and I was wearing my light gloves instead of my heavy-duty pair. Thankfully there were few cars out in the snow at 7am on a Saturday, so I ran on the still-clear road rather than the mostly non-existent sidewalks. My water froze my throat closed I’m pretty sure. I only checked the thermometer when I got home (still freezing) only to find we were sitting at around -2 C, which may sound mild to you but we get MAYBE ten below-zero days a year and I do not adapt well to it.

Plus, I look about 100% less adorable than this puppy in the snow soooo...

Aside from the cold (or maybe because of it) I ran an exceptionally good 16k yesterday morning. I call it exceptional for two reasons: first, because I ran my first 16k several months ago at 7:21/km and brought yesterday’s run down to 6:41/km, without a single huff or puff along the way. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll have shaved another 40 seconds off and be even prouder of myself (oh wait not possible). Yes, yes, I am aware that this is a slow pace, but I’ve beaten myself and that’s what counts.

Second, this particular run included the dreaded Bowen Bay hill, that which I described in unflattering terms in this post. I was hoping I’d reach my turn-around point of 8k before the top of the hill so I wouldn’t have to run back up it. I was only at 7k, which meant running down the entire thing then running back up. I debated with myself, thinking I could add a quick 2k loop at my start-point and avoid the hill altogether. But 2012 is a year for challenging oneself, so I forced myself down the hill. Running down even took forever. I was cursing myself the entire way, knowing each step meant more hill to run up. When I got to the bottom, I gazed up at what I could see of the hill and cursed some more. Then I put my head down and ran.

And you know what? I breezed up that hill like it was nothing baby! I’ve avoided it since last summer and I can’t believe how much I’ve improved since then! I was actually surprised when I got to the top, certain there must be more hill to conquer. The run was pretty much down-hill (in a good way) from there. I felt like planting a flag or a headstone that read “Here lies Bowen Bay hill, also known as Margaret’s bitch”. Maybe next time.

My smugness level = approximately four smug Obamas.

In short, I’m feeling really great about my training. Although I’ve got some other not-so-nice things going on, my running is going great and that makes me feel good. I hope everyone else is doing so well with their training!

My Watch Never Hits Pants O’Clock

27 Oct

Apparently we both wear the same brand of watch.

So my water bottle froze just a bit today on my morning run. I noticed when I tried to wash down a gel only to choke on ice chunks. Maybe where you live, this wouldn’t be surprising. But we don’t really get winter here. The dog’s water bowl only freezes about twice a year and it’s a pretty big deal when it happens…  although poor dumb Ruby doesn’t usually notice. But it shocked the hell out of me, especially considering I was only decked out in a (thankfully long-sleeved) tech shirt and shorts. I’m still thanking whatever is was that made me decide to bring some gloves as well; otherwise I’m sure this typing would have caused some rotten fingers to fall off. Just last week I wore the same long-sleeved shirt and was so hot I rolled the sleeves as far up as they would go and tucked the bottom into the band of my sports bra (you’re welcome construction workers).

Please pleeeease don't follow me home.

And then I nearly froze my ass off today, which is saying a lot, because god knows I’ve got some insulation around them parts. So I guess winter is here. And I have no idea what I need to keep warm. So I did some research and thought I’d share with you.

Gear-wise:

So apparently, you need to wear pants. Some of you may be more okay with this than others. Basically, you need to layer up that body of yours like a lasagne. The degree and type of cold (dry versus wet, like ours) is going to vary, so use that life experience of yours to judge how many layers to wear. Gloves are a necessity. Maybe two pairs. Maybe a scarf. Hat yes, your grandma’s mink coat, no. Synthetic materials that will wick sweat but keep heat in will go a long way.

But what if you just HATE pants? First off, been there friend. Let’s just say jeans have not touched these gams of mine in a long time. I’m okay with leggings though and today I’m going to go buy those Lululemon ones I was talking about.

But MOOOMMMMM no one else is wearing pants!

And sir or madam, you’re just going to have to make yourself like pants (and long-sleeved shirts and gloves and ear warmers and everything) because if you don’t, and go run around like an idiot with cold muscles, your chances of injury will sky-rocket. Remember how everyone ever has recommended you warm up by walking or jogging before your start your run? Yeah, there’s a reason. Cold muscles do not adjust well to a sudden increase in effort. Sometimes they protest, like a little Occupy Your Body, except instead of disorganized chanting, they BREAK. AND IT HURTS. So… probably a much more effective protest than an Occupy Whatever…

So effective. I really feel his message.

So just do it.

Shoes-wise:

Don’t wear your old shoes. They are old. This means that the treads are going to be pretty worn down. You’ll only need one patch of black ice to end your training for a couple weeks. So unless you really enjoy broken bones, or at the least skinned palms, wear your newest pair, even if they’re brand spankin’ new and you don’t want to mess them up with mud or snow.

There’s another option which I think I might try out… which involves driving screws into your old shoes so you can dig in best in ice and snow. If I end up doing this I’ll keep you updated, with photos of the massacre of course.

That’s it I guess. I’ll let you know how my layering goes, and maybe detail any frostbite I get. Look forward to it.

Happy winter running everyone! Try not to lose any body parts this season!

I would also protest about this.

Running Whilst Sick

21 Oct

So you’ve got some bogies up in that schnoz of yours huh? You’re sick. It’s that time of year. You’re stuffed up and sneezy and sometimes you feel a little dizzy but that’s the fun part so you don’t mind. The question is, are you okay to run?

Now, disclaimer, I am not doctor. Plus this show contains graphic images that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. But I promise not to mention boogers again (boogers). Just keep my lack of medical expertise in mind and, for maybe the fourth time, please don’t sue me. I’d only be able to pay you in tears and old college textbooks.

But I do have experience with running while sick, and I’ve read a lot about it so here are some of my expert tips:

I literally found the most disgusting photos I could. I thought black-and-white people were a little more civilized than this.

The Number One Rule:

If you feel sick from the neck up, you’re good to go baby. Shove some tissues in your gel pockets and blast off because it’s runnin’ time. A poor imitation interspersed with snuffling and sneezing would be alright too. The point is, if all you’re suffering through is a head cold, your body can withstand a run. I even find that my sinuses clear right up once I get moving. Just make sure you do what your mama always told you; take it easy and drink plenty of fluids. This is no time to try to beat your PR for the 5k. Nice and easy is the way to go.

On the flip side… if you’re feelin’ it from the neck down, stay right in that bed sir. Seriously. If you’re anything like me, it kills you to miss a workout. Even if you feel like a steaming pile of it, missing that run (in your mind and mine) will only make you feel worse. The way I deal with it is to remind myself that running in that condition will only prolong my recovery time. So take it easy. Not runner-easy like I mentioned above where you cut your run 2k from 25. Sit. At. Home. Drink tea, do whatever makes you feel better. Now is not the time to push it.

I am so sorry.

The Number Two Rule:

Despite everything I just said, you’ve got to listen to your body. Sometimes a head cold is bad enough to keep you at home. And sometimes a little tummy-ache shouldn’t keep you from your run. Only you can tell what’s right for you.

Those are my two personal rules I follow. Admittedly I’m not so good at the listening to my body part (read about my appendix issue if you feel up to it) but I’m trying. I remember one morning, the day after I’d experienced some severe post-surgery pain I won’t get into, my mom caught me trying to sneak out for a pre-dawn run. I honestly did feel much better, and it was just a 6k, MOM, god. But I know I should have taken the day off. It’s a learning experience and it’s harder for some people than it is for others (psycho Type As like me have trouble).

So best of luck with your training as we head into cold and flu season. Hey maybe we should all get that shot them people keep talking about? Or not, as usual.

My last tips? Stock up on tissue (boogers haha) and do what feels right. Enjoy the weekend everyone! Plus: