Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cool Runnings

I’m not talking about the movie, although it is one of my all time favorites and, for a bit of family history, the ONLY movie the McGuire family has seen in the theater together. Probably the last movie my mom has seen in a theater period. But I’m digressing before I even begin.

I’m talking about the activity of running. Running in the cold.

Now I realize cold is relative to many. So before you begin to snicker and say it isn’t cold in Alabama compared to Michigan or Alaska or Colorado, let me say that this little blurb is being written by a girl from Panama City, Florida. While I have gotten used to the cooler climes of Huntsville, AL, and welcome them most of the time, when the numbers drop below 30, my motivation to run takes a dive as well.

For the last three weeks, the temps have been anywhere from 13 to 19, with cruel wind chill temperatures to accompany them. I have a new clock that displays the temperature each morning, and if I don’t have plans to meet anyone, I roll back over until it is time to get ready for work. This means that I must run after work or skip it altogether.

This wouldn’t ordinarily bother me, but I have goals. And at this time of year, who doesn’t? Fitness goals, weight loss goals, running goals, training goals, marathon time goals… For me, I’d like to run a faster marathon, and my sights are on a Boston Marathon qualifying time. It is a big jump from my current marathon time, but doable if I stick to a good training plan and work hard.

When the new year showed up, I waited for the usual gust of enthusiasm and motivation that usually consumes me with the idea of a new beginning, a fresh start. I planned a super fun 30 mile birthday run, but after that…it was cold, I was cold, and sitting on the couch with a blanket was warm.

I’ve heard several people claim to be in the same boat. I think there is hope, however. I think there are strategies one can employ to get out there and get after those goals. So, taking some thoughts and ideas from a great article on, here are a few things I am doing to get over the I’m-so-cold-I-can’t-move slump.

1. Make Plans – Plan to run with some friends. Whether in the morning or afternoon. You are less likely to back out of a run if you know someone else is depending on you. Plus, conversation often distracts from discomfort.

2. Bundle and Layer – Tons of great clothing is available to athletes to assist their pursuits in all climates. John Mora from Competitor Magazine says, “If you don't have the right gear for this time of the year-such as a polypropylene base layer and moisture wicking layers, as well as a running jacket with good ventilation-running through the winter can be unbearable.” And something I’ve found, if I know I have good gear to wear, I’m more likely to venture out…especially if I think it is cute.

3. Reward Yourself – This is another bit of advice from John Mora’s article, and something I’ve found really does work. If I think of the hot shower or soak, a warm bowl of soup, time on the couch with Jason and a blanket, a tall mocha, extra hot with skim milk and whip…I am more likely to get out there and get it over with. I know I will enjoy those things more if I have gotten my run out of the way.

4. Remember – Remember the time you DID make yourself go for that run in the cold and how you were warm well before mile 1. Remember how good it feels to finish a run. Remember your goals and how badly you want to reach them. And if all else fails…listen to Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child and start getting dressed. That always works for me.

Happy running and stay warm!

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