Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cold, windy, and snowy

Winter has arrived.  Last few runs have been in sub-30's (that's degrees Fahrenheit), bit of rain and snow making the roads and paths slippery.  I notice that my gait is different to offset potential slippage on ice.  Today's run was in the mid 20's (closer to 20 actually), with a 10-15mph wind (making it colder), and snow.  At times the snow looked like it was coming down sideways.  I seemed dressed ok including a neck/head hoodie thing that allowed me to cover my mouth.  But with the wind the snow would accumulate around the edges of my hoodie thing against my cheeks, eventually icing up and being very uncomfortable (ice against my cheeks).

At times I noticed drivers looking at me as I beat my way against the wind and snow, and I'm sure that they all thought that I was nuts.  Oddly enough, as ugly as the weather was, it didn't seem that bad.  I guess I had the mindframe that I was out there to battle against the elements and it was going to be ok.

I have to admit that the first mile was the toughest (seems like it always is) and I kept wondering if I should make it very short run.  But once I got into it I kept saying "further, further"...  After about 3 miles or so the snow/ice build up on my hoodie thing against my cheek was uncomfortable enough for me to want to turn around and head back.  On the way back, with the wind on the other side of me, now my other cheek started to freeze up - so we sort of balanced out the discomfort.

One thing that I find interesting is that I wore four layers to cover my torso, but only one for my legs.  How is it that my legs don't get cold?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

7 things I’ve learned about running

A recent article prompted me to think about what I’ve learned about and while running… and it boils down to 7 things:
  1. I always feel better after a run than beforehand – Regardless of whether I’ve had a good run or a bad one, this is always true.  If I’ve had a bad run (hard time getting going, not breathing right, out of rhythm, sucky weather, etc), just the fact that I went out and did it anyway makes me feel better.  And if I’ve had a good run, it’s the cherry on top of the whipped cream.  It is a weird feeling, that good warm sensation that comes after a run, but it always happens.  And ultimately, when I’m feeling lethargic about getting out there, knowing that I’m going to get that feeling it’s what gets me out there to run.
  2. Pay attention aches and pains  – Certain aches and pains need to be reckoned with, while others can be ignored.  The ones affecting my ankles, knees, and certain muscles (like my hamstring and calves) are the ones that I especially pay attention to.  Why?  Because I want to make sure that I can run again tomorrow.  Running “through the pain” can be counterproductive (unwarranted damage that will take much longer to heal).
  3. Breathing really helps – Or put more correctly:  “breathing properly” really helps….  If I’m not breathing smoothly I simply don’t run well and I wind up having a shitty run.  I wind up struggling for the entire period and simply never get to the point where I feel I’m able to enjoy the experience.  But if I can manage my breathing and get into a nice rhythm, I almost always will have a great run.
  4. Thin layers are the way to go – With summer nothing but a memory, I’ve learned how to dress for different cold/cool weather conditions and “thin” layers are the way to go.  No more sweat shirts or hoodies, at least for now (I’m sure that there will be a cold blustery day when I’ll go out with a hoodie….).   But the point of the thin layers is that: a) they are light weight, and b) each layer traps heat.  And then as I or the day warm up, I can lose a layer and easily carry it.  For example, aside from almost always wearing full length stretchy pants when it’s below 40 degrees, for mid to high 30’s I might wear two long sleeve layers.  If it is definitely in the high 30’s, I’ll do a long sleeve and a short sleeve layer.  Between 20 and 30 degrees, I’ll go with three layers, and perhaps top it with a windbreaker.  The wind can be a killer, and will make a big difference in the “feels-like” temperature – thus the windbreaker.  I’ve also learned to wear a skull cap – I lose a lot of heat up there.  I haven’t tried running when it’s below 20, but I’m sure I will soon.
  5. Don’t go for a distance run without having fueled up beforehand – I did it once and I won’t do it again.  I had intended to do a very reasonable 6-8 mile jaunt, but events in the morning got away from me causing me to not start my run until almost noon.  At that point my only nutrition was 2-3 cups of coffee since 6-ishAM.  Realizing that, I sucked down a pack of GU and took off, only to feel the effects of not having any juice left to run literally just 3 miles out …. Fortunately, I had another pack of GU with me and I managed to stumble home.  Bottom line:  If I’m going to do more than 4 miles, I make sure that I get some fuel in me at least 2 hours beforehand.
  6. Shoes make a big difference – It really is all about the shoes.  If your feet don’t feel just right, your ankles, knees, hips and all the associated muscles, tendons, and ligaments won’t work right.  It’s so worth the $100 for good shoes and so worth trying different brands and models.  Good sox too (no cheepies...).
  7. I don’t always need to run with music – Oddly enough, sometimes I find that I get more pleasure out of my run by just running and listening to myself.  I wind up listening to the cadence of my steps and my breathing and letting my mind wander.  It is definitely a different running experience.  I get why the hardcore runners don’t run with iPods… But on the other hand,  I really like listening to my music.
There are more, but these'll do for now....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January running (it's like Spring!)

Quick notes:
  • January and very un-winterish weather. Little or no snow, and not that cold.
  • Working up weekly mileage, up to 20 miles per week for two weeks in a row.
  • Stretching, massaging, and icing my left ankle regularly after each run. The ankle is feeling good.
  • Focused on building my endurance.
  • Signed up for the Ann Arbor Marathon, June 17. Not crazy about the course, but it's a hometown event, and I should give it a go. Actually, I think that it will be pretty hard for me - the course has some hills. In comparison, the Chicago Marathon was a pretty flat run, so this will be interesting. The other downer is that it could be, will likely be, hot. So I'm not counting on a PB.
More later.