Old Fat Lady Gets Fit ... Again (#YEG)

Winter. What to do?

It got nasty cold here today, a little below freezing with a big wind. I took the day off. Even just going back and forth from the car to the stores to do my weekly shopping left me with a chill that made me have to wear a sweater in my house. So what the heck am I planning on doing once winter is really here?

I don’t know. I used to run throughout the winter. I usually had one fall per year that bruised either a hip or a tailbone, but as I now have more potential for serious injury in a fall, what do I do?

Initially, I think I’ll keep it up until some serious snowfall. As long as the sidewalks are clear I should be fine. Running the lovely trails with ice, however, is another issue. I think there is a crampon device a person can put on their shoes to provide traction. I have something similar for my boots to take me to and from work (they wouldn’t hold up to running) and they have allowed me to be fall free on icy sidewalks for the last 3 years. If I can find such things I will most likely get them. Then my only boundary will be the temperature.

The coldest I ever ran was -38 Celsius (which is pretty near -36 Fahrenheit). That turned out to be a mistake as the water bottle inside my jacket next to my body froze solid and after two miles I knew I was in trouble. A couple of more experienced folk returning from their run stopped and walked with me back to my car. Generally speaking, runners are good folk. I was lucky. And I decided I would not run colder than -25C (sorry, I’m not going to do the math – it’s cold).

No, your lungs don’t freeze. Oy! Your body temp is 98.6F (37C). By the time -30F air gets to your bronchi it’s warm. As long as you dress for the weather, you’re fine. And it’s amazing how much heat you generate when you’re working hard. Sometimes you even feel overdressed.

I don’t know that I’ll stay at running 3 times a week through the winter. I do want to maintain a level of fitness so I don’t have to start all over again in the spring. I may switch to 10:1s for the winter and keep it to around 3 or 4 reps of that – so, shorter runs that will reduce risk of injury. That would do the trick and let me create a pattern of growth in the warm weather and maintenance in the snow. Seems sensible to me on first blush. Let’s see how it goes.

MAYDAY! MAYDAY!

Winter has come upon us and I’ve only run twice in the past two weeks. Back in the day I would take the winter off and re-build each spring, but at this age the starting over is brutal and having done it once is quite enough, I think.

And it’s bothering me. I’m a little scared of losing everything I’ve worked so hard to build. But it’s not safe. The weather here has been absolutely bizarre; we got rain yesterday afternoon that eventually froze and turned into snow last night and it’s still coming down. Mother Nature’s skating rink covered by about 4″ (10 cm) of snow, so far.

Another issue: by the time I get home from work it’s dark and I don’t feel safe running alone in the dark.

My goal for the winter is to maintain. I don’t need to build time or distance over the next few months; I can do that when spring has returned and conditions are ideal. Maintenance of fitness requires only 1/3 the effort expended to build, so technically I could maintain by running once per week, but it would be a longer run. I’d rather do less more often, which is a good option.

Possible solutions:

  1. I was thinking about skipping rope in the basement over the winter. I hear it’s even better cardio than running; a 10 minute skip is like a half hour run, and it gets the arms involved which is a good thing.
  2. I was thinking about taking my running gear to work and running at lunch. The sidewalks are usually pretty well maintained downtown and it would be light with lots of people around, so safety would not be an issue.
  3. Another option would be to completely change it up and swim (not a fan of wet hair at -20C) or sacrifice all enthusiasm and go to a gym (egad!). Yeah, no. Number 3 is not going to happen. Not on a consistent basis at any rate.

I like Number 2 and it’s feasible and relatively easy. Mentally, I still get to run a couple of times during the week and hauling the gear to and from isn’t too horrible. I can either squeeze in another run on the weekend or go downstairs to skip. (Skipping is HARD. If you’ve not done it since you were a kid you’d be in for a surprise trying it now.) There’s a whole training plan for building up to a 10 minute skip that starts with 30 seconds. Remind you of anything?

It’s key to find something enjoyable that guarantees consistency and frequency throughout the season. It doesn’t have to be the same activity, it just has to permit a valid workout: heart-health and good muscle use.

Good luck to you and to me for the winter!

Oh! I’ve lost 2 pounds over the last couple of weeks, once Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en were done. (Darn those snack-size candy bars!)