Very rarely do things go according to plans. Like this winter’s training.
At the beginning of the year, I vowed that the coming months of running would be different from my sporadic bouts of running last winter. While I can say I have been pretty good at getting my miles in, they have definitely not been in the way I would have preferred.
For starters, mileage logged on the treadmill far surpasses the miles logged outside. I didn’t think this winter could tops last year, but I proved wrong. Several of our weekday workouts had to be cancelled due to ice and snow, leaving me to do speed and incline indoors. On days when it wasn’t cancelled, temperatures still hovered dangerously low; one of the few runs to go on as scheduled took place in the coldest conditions of (unofficial) Fleet Feet training history. Although I loathe the treadmill, my preference to retain feeling in my feet, fingers and nose convinced me that any evening workouts scheduled for sub-20 degree temperatures would be done indoors with a post-it note dictating my intervals (and subsequent looks from neighboring runners confused by my high speed sprints and constant adjustments to the incline).
Among the long runs, I technically skipped three runs with the group, but I completed two out of the three on my own time. Unlike last year when scheduling conflicts, weather and the morning after effects of being a 20-something with a social life made for a less than consistent long run routine, this winter I successfully committed to getting in those lengthier runs. Knowing I had paid for my training program and had a group waiting for me each Saturday morning made a huge difference in convincing me not to ignore my early alarm.
Perhaps the first long run of the session was a sign of things to come. Wet, slippery and uphill, that first run offered a glimpse of less than stellar running conditions for the remainder of the training. I ran through single digit temperatures, brutal wind chills and even snow. I practiced my ice skating, and ice dodging, while also learning how many dress layers was an acceptable amount before I looked like an oompa loompa, could still move my arms and would ward off any chance of frostbite. Just when I thought the runs couldn’t get colder and therefore were not worth skipping, each week showed me how much of a fool I was in my thinking.
As much as these past few weeks have been challenging by the weather, the bigger challenge has been staying motivated amid it all. Training for a race always reminds me how much of a mental dynamic there is to running. It takes commitment, dedication and some level of craziness to be willing to run when there is snow on your shoelaces, and it’s even harder to make the time to accumulate the miles when daylight hours for running are so few. Running is an endurance sport not solely because of its physical nature, but also because of what it forces the mind to do.
With less than a week to go until the Rock N’ Roll half marathon in D.C., my expectations for myself have lowered since I first started training. Running a marathon taught me that you don’t need to achieve your exact goal to find success in a race. Every mile is a lesson and a chance to build strength, and character. I’m focused on enjoying 13.1 miles through the neighborhoods of D.C; no dwelling on what can’t be changed or what I should done better. This coming race is my chance to run without any expectations.