Me “So when do you think this ‘polar vortex’ thingy will come to and end?
O- “Let’s be clear- it’s called winter. And probably some time in April or May”
It happened. I cracked. In many ways the novelty of running outside in the freezing cold has come to an end and I have spent many of my recent runs wishing, hoping and praying for spring to come quickly! I’m sick of the wind, the “feels like of -176” and the morning darkness.
Lately I have been daydreaming about summer runs. I long to run in simply a tank and shorts, feel the warm sun on my skin, hear the birds chirping and catch the scent of freshly mowed grass all while I quickly trot by. Instead I pile three layers on my torso, put on a thick hat, winter running gloves and neck warmer and pull the hood of my jacket tightly over my head to minimize the amount of skin exposure to the brutally cold conditions.
Training in the winter requires a level of focus, dedication and passion for this sport far above what I could have imagined. My love for running and determination to PR at Hyannis (my next race 2/23) has been tested time and time again this winter. I have found myself out on a run thinking, “It doesn’t matter if I hit my goal training pace for this run… just getting out there is enough!… No! It’s not enough. If you don’t do the work, then you’re not going to reach your goal. It’s just that simple.” My mental struggle highlights just some of the challenges of winter training.
Unfortunately winter training does not mean that you get through one tough, cold run, or even a week of cold runs for that matter. Winter training means that you are able to retain a high level of focus and determination to push your physical limits in spite of months of the black ice, the snowstorms, the windchill and the short days (in addition to your basic, ongoing challenges like putting food on the table, taking care of your child, keeping the house from looking like hoarders live there).
Fortunately this past week of training brought forth warmer temperatures and consequently more enjoyable runs! While I enjoyed Friday’s 8×800 track workout all of my training seemingly came together for Sunday’s long run.
After three weeks of tiresome long runs in chilly conditions, this past Sunday the temperature was in the 40’s and the sky was completely clear. There was no freshly cut grass to smell or birds chirping, but that didn’t matter just yet. The warmer temperatures reminded me of what is to come in a couple of months: spring! It was as if a weight was lifted off of my shoulders on the road and I could just run free (no heavy jacket, no worry of wind whipping into my face, no snow sloshing into my shoes). I kept my watch covered for the first four miles of this run so that I could allow my body to properly warm up before holding myself accountable to a certain pace.
When my Garmin beeped to signify the completion of mile 4 a light switch turned on in my legs and I was off. After weeks of forced faster paced long runs I was finally comfortably hitting my goal paces. What a relief! I actually hit my goal half marathon pace (7 min/mi) for each of the last 5 miles of this run and I must say- DAMN DID IT FEEL GOOD! This is how running should feel! Runs like this one are why I keep on trudging through the winter training.
I am focused. I am determined. I am ready.
Hyannis 13.1 here I come!
M – 60 min lift (free weights, body weight and core)
T – 8.75 run at half marathon pace (7 min/mi or faster) on Quincy YMCA’s indoor track! (yes, I did do 70 laps around that little 200 m track that day!)
W – 8.75 mi (7:52 pace in the slushy snow!)
*After Tuesday’s tough track workout I initially intended for Wednesday’s run to be much shorter and slower. However, I ran from the YMCA (instead of my house) and forgot what loop I was doing! I ended up running an extra 2+ miles, which put me on the verge of being late for work. SO- I picked it up the last few miles and did a descending run!
My splits were: 9:04, 8:17, 8:00, 7:38, 7:36, 7:48, 7:35, 7:16
Th – 4 mi (8:30 pace)
F- Crazy track workout! 8.3 miles (7:22 overall pace)
*I was extremely nervous about this workout! A ton of laps around the track, a faster pace than I’ve ever hit before and all on a windy day!
1.5 mi warmup
8 x 800 @ 3:10 (a 6:20 min/mi pace) with a 400 m rest inbetween
Reps 1-4: 3:07, 3:09, 3:06, 3:10
Reps 5-8: 3:14, 3:16, 3:16, 3:18
* On one hand it stinks that I got slower and wasn’t able to maintain my goal pace during repetitions 5-8, however it also shows that I was working hard during all reps! The last time I completed this workout I had to do 4×800 @ 3:15-3:17. Being able to complete a five 800’s faster than 3:15 demonstrates an increased level of fitness within a six week window! Horray for progress!
S- 5.3 miles (8:13 pace), 30 min core workout
Su- 15 (7:39 pace)
Total miles: 50