Thursday, January 7, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Running

Week 29 on my Ironman training schedule is also the first week of January -- in Cleveland, Ohio. Until this week I actually thought we might have a mild winter. But as they say in my business: none such animal!

It's a good thing I'm using my first few weeks of Ironman prep work to increase my number of weekly bike rides because getting out to run in the current weather is extremely frustrating. My workout time is compromised because of the time it takes to drive anywhere in the unrelenting ice and snow this week. And to complicate matters, my husband left town on a business trip, making me responsible for clearing the driveway snow (and it snowed over three inches every day this week).

Then, we've also had unrelenting temperatures in the teens and low 20s which, for me, makes any kind of outdoor exercise -- running, shoveling, making snow angels -- more exhausting. And I worry that it will only get worse with age (extra energy spent keeping warm). But I CAN say that, this year, I've relinquished my membership card to the wimp club by running outside if the temperature is 10 degrees F or above (last year it had to be 20F before I would venture out). And not snowing. Well, it can snow a LITTLE.

But with a nickname like Diaster Magnet, I am well indoctrinated to the hazards of running -- or walking -- on ice and snow. In February 2008, about two weeks after declaring it my triathlon "comeback year," I slipped on ice at work and landed on the lens of my digital SLR. I broke a back rib and sidelined my so-called "comeback" for several months. In the winter of 2009, my neighborhood sidewalks provided a platform for several more falls, complete with bloody gashes (and for the life of me, I still cannot figure out how landing on pavement can cut right through my running tights without any damage to the material). I was limping until spring.

So, why do I insist on running outside when I have a nice indoor track and treadmills at my local recreation center? I don't. But despite outdoor running perils, indoor running can be equally painful. Thus, I present my list of ten things to beware of when winter running, both inside and outside:
  1. slipping on ice that isn't there (patches known as "black ice," these can also occur on non-black pavement)
  2. dropping your iPod while on the treadmill, stopping to pick it up and getting launched off the back onto your butt or into a wall (in effect, paying the "stupid tax" -- embarrassingly, I did it twice during the same workout)
  3. getting pelted by snow -- or ice -- in the eyes (do you know that annoying wet drizzle that you hate to run in? well this is the same thing except it's colder -- and it's in your EYES)
  4. having to get up even earlier to run because your work commute time has more than doubled (this usually lasts for the first month of winter in Cleveland, then everyone either re-learns how to drive in it or just doesn't care anymore)
  5. (corollary to number 4) having to dive into a snow bank because drivers only look out for SNOW when driving in the snow
  6. fighting the gym rules to keep your treadmill for more than a 20-minute workout (for us OCD runners, 20 minutes barely constitutes a warm-up)
  7. being reminded there are leg muscles that control side-to-side motion (also known as the "tennis syndrome," runners are rarely aware these muscles exist)
  8. wearing out one hip joint while running in circles on a track that's too small for matchbox cars to drive comfortably on (and might I mention that my hips also seem to have gotten more ornery with age)
  9. finding protection for your face because wearing those stupid masks makes it impossible to breathe (and, at my age, I can add: learning your skin does NOT bounce back every year)
  10. constantly whacking my knuckles and hands on the treadmill console because it's just NOT natural
Happy winter running everyone, and beware the perils. I've not even begun my swimming this year, but I'm not worried -- I'm getting enough upper body training shoveling snow. Accumulation totals should be up to two feet by tomorrow.

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