The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Not!

Dec 4, 2013 by

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.




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.


Frost on my head at the 2013 Harbison 50K

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


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Motivation: Past and Present

Jul 16, 2013 by

Motivation: Past and Present

But it’s alright with me now
I’ll get back up somehow
And with a little luck, I’m bound to win
I’ll fall in love, I’ll fall in love again

I’ll Fall in Love Again, Sammy Hagar

In summer 1983, a young man moved to my town.  Let’s call him Jack.  Like most kids moving to a new town, Jack made new friends.  Being tall, blonde, and athletic, this wasn’t hard for Jack.

Problem was, unbeknownst to me,  Jack became really good “friends” with my girlfriend.   I was soon history.  Word traveled much slower back then in the prehistoric land line phone days, but eventually word got back to me there was a new kid in town that contributed to my demise.

So, school started back, and there they were, roaming the halls together, Jack, the football player, and my ex, the cheerleader.  They sure made a cute couple, at least to everyone but me.  One day word came that Jack was going to try out for basketball.  Word on the street was that he was pretty good. Might even vie for a starting spot. Well, guess who’s territory that was.  That’s right.  Mine.

To say I was looking forward to tryouts was an understatement. I had a new motivation and focus.  Poor guy showed up never had a chance.  There may have been more flagrant fouling than usual, but that’s could just be called aggressive defense.  I don’t remember for sure, and YouTube didn’t exist, so there’s no evidence. Jack did make the team, but he didn’t take my starting spot.  We are actually friends today, thanks to teammate bond trumping other issues.

So, that was my motivation all those years ago – girls, jealousy, pride, revenge.  Looks like there should be a sermon in there somewhere.

Has much changed since then?  I hope so.  I do get slightly motivated by girls, though, but that’s just when trying to speed up as I’m getting passed by one!  These days, I’m motivated by a few different things.

First is health.  I took up running in late 2008 because I was out of shape and the job was about to get stressful.  Running really helped me survive 2009.  I lost weight and became fit.  It was a big challenge to learn the fine line between being fit versus constantly injured, but I think I found that. I’ve not really mentioned it here before, but 2012 made 2009 look like a walk in the park.  Running helped get me through that as well.

Second is continuous improvement.  I took up running later in life.  I’m not an ex-high school cross county star coming back after twenty years.  So, I believe my best running days are still to come, and I suppose I’m on a quest to find out my limits.

So, how can you, dear reader, fall in love again (or maybe for the first time) with running?  Here are some tips:

  • Find a running/workout buddy.  Call this an accountability partner.  You don’t have to do all your runs or workouts together, but it really helps to check on each other’s progress and provide encouragement.
  • Go run somewhere new. Are you primarily a road runner?  Then go find a trail.  Like the trails?  Then go find a new one.
  • Enter a race.  Go ahead and pay for a 5K one month from now and start training today.  If you haven’t run in a while, don’t be concerned about time, just plan on finishing.
  • Don’t think racing is for you?  Volunteer to help at a race.  You may be surprised at the people out there and say “Hey, I can do that, too.”
  • Finally, set a stretch goal and let others know it.  This is what I’ve done.  And here it is: Beat 3:25:00 in my next marathon, which will qualify me for the Boston Marathon.  That’s quite a step up from my previous marathons. I’ll reveal more on this goal in my next post.

Until then, POFIFOTO!





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