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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Not!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With the kids jingle belling

And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

-Andy Williams, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This week, one of my favorite local radio stations changed its format to full time Christmas music until the big day.  This irks me, but that’s a different story.

When I do hear Andy’s song, I have to disagree.  If you’re a runner, this is a terrible time of year.

It is dark.

It is cold.

It is wet.

Stink.

Stank.

Stunk.

So, what is a runner to do?

Three choices come to mind:

  1. Hibernate until spring
  2. Hit the treadmill
  3. Suck it up

As you probably figured, number one is not an option for me.  It is tempting, especially since I feel like going to bed at 8:30pm ever since we moved the clocks back to standard time.

As for a treadmill, I have done my share of miles there.   Five years ago this month, my running journey started by dusting off the old treadmill in the garage and running a minute or two at a time in between walk breaks.  So, I’m not totally anti-treadmill.  They have their place.

This year, though, I’m going to try to avoid the ‘mill as much as possible.    This might be as much of a mental test as a physical one.  Here are some strategies I’ll use to beat the elements:

1. Gear up.  Unlike the very early days of my running, I’m much more prepared for the cold.  Gloves, caps, long running pants, jackets.  I have it all now.  One thing I don’t have yet, though, is a headlamp for better night running.   Maybe Santa is reading.

2. Warm up inside first.  During the warm months, I almost always warm up with a mile walk.   Now, I’ll do 10-15 minutes on the exercise bike before heading out.  Then I can hit the ground running and it doesn’t seem as cold.

3.  Shorter workouts.  Blasphemy, I know.  I usually don’t run outside during my lunch trip to the gym.  This week, though, I did an easy 10 minute warm up, then 20 minutes of quarter mile intervals on a short road beside the gym.  Sure, it wasn’t ideal, but I was outside in the daylight!

4.  The Brick.  This is actually a combination of numbers 2 and 3.    I use this in place of my long run on very cold sunny days.  I’ll ride the exercise bike for 45 minutes to an hour then head out for a similar length run.  The workout isn’t shorter, but the length of time outside is.

5.  Hit the trails.  Running trails might not help much with cold, but if it is wooded, the trees will block a lot of wind.  Also, the scenery might take your mind off the elements.

Hope this helps.

POFIFOTO!

Frost on my head at the 2013 Harbison 50K

Frost on my head at the 2013 Harbison 50K. Brrr.

 

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