I've been challenging myself to the same weekly goal since mid-September (you can read the challenge here). Now, 3 months later, seems like a good time to reflect on what I've learned:
- Big success will come when you have enough little successes to keep it company. Running a couple miles in the morning doesn't feel like anything Earth-shattering; heck, it's not even worth sharing on social media. But the results add up:
- I had previously only run 50 miles in a month once before; I've now done it two months IN A ROW! (and I'm getting close to the mark for this month too!)
- On a weekly basis, I had clocked 10 miles only 20 times, with the last one being 67 weeks previously. I have now run 10 miles 9 weeks in a row and 12 of the last 13!
- You can't short-cut success, anymore than you can wake up one morning and decide to run a marathon. But a short run, everyday, adds up to a lot of miles.
Running in the Cold
- Is Hard - my very first post on this blog was titled "Running in the cold is hard", and I still think that's true. But I've learned a few things this winter which have made it easier:
- Gear Matters - As the morning lows have dropped from the 60's through the 50's and 40's and down into the 30's, I've been able to wear the right gear - which makes the cold a little more bearable.
- Ear Band - a simple, inexpensive fleece headband to cover my ears has made a world of difference. I can't explain why I've never used one of these before.
- Layers - base layer long sleeve, short sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve microfiber running sweatshirt, long sleeve baggy cotton t-shirt, and I'm out the door! When the temperature is mid-30's or less, I'll skip the last cotton t-shirt and replace it with a heavier cotton sweatshirt. For bottoms, I've been fine with track pants all the way down to 32 degrees. (my coldest run so far.)
- Gloves - warm hands are a big deal (almost as much as warm ears), but I didn't like wearing gloves. Luckily my long sleeve microfiber running shirt has really long sleeves, so I've been pulling the sleeves down over my hands, and it works great.
- Feet / Socks - I generally run in Luna Sandals (more on that here), and I rode the cold weather all the way down to 32 in my Lunas. However, that last week of 36, 35, 32 sucked, and my toes were numb after 10 minutes of running each day. I've since decided that anything lower than 38 degrees deserves socks and "typical" shoes.
- Patience, and Savor your Victories - when it's really cold outside (or wet, or windy), I know before I even start that I'm not going to break a speed record that day. So I give myself permission to run at whatever pace my body wants to run. The victory comes from taming the "lazy beast", keeping the streak alive, and adding miles to my body's fitness, and from doing something all my friends think is crazy. (Maybe I am crazy, but I get a bit of pleasure from knowing I'm the only one out there getting it done.)
- Before the Run - Sometimes I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. Simply rolling my feet over the side of the bed is a huge victory. However,
- After the Run - I have not once, repeat - not one time, finished the run and thought I would have been better off with another half hour's sleep. I might wish I had gone to bed earlier the night before, but I've never felt like the run was a bad idea.
- Pace - it's difficult to explain how much better I am at running today than I was 3-4 months ago. My fastest times are faster than they were, which is to be expected. But what's unexpected is just how much easier running has become. My "slow" runs today, where I'm just cruising along at a fairly easy pace without breathing too heavy or exerting myself too much, are at about the same pace as my "fast" runs used to be.
- Endurance - My 2.25 mile baseline course around the neighborhood - it used to feel like a workout and today feels like a warm-up.
- It's been 13 weeks - that's a long time compared to one week, but it's a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it's a great start.
- I'm not a marathoner, and I'm not even very fast compared to the "real" runners out there. But I feel a lot more comfortable running than I used to, and I'm getting faster.
- Add to all this running that I'm able to do more push-ups and pull-ups than I could 3 months ago, and I'm more flexible than I was, and that my weight has remained constant while at the same time I've been able to increase my meal portions - and it feels like a win-win-win.
I think I'm going to stick with this program for awhile longer - maybe I'll revisit this post in the spring..
- Chris Butterworth
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