Friday, December 28, 2012
It's Friday, a non-running day for me. I went out for a walk early this morning to count as cardio and get some steps in. This afternoon, my step count was lower than I liked, so I went out for another walk.
I was cold. The temperature wasn't all that cold, at 25°F (-4°C). I was dressed appropriately for the weather, or at least I thought I was. But it just plain felt cold.
Yesterday I was cold clearing the snow off the driveway, and cold running errands. But then I was comfortable out running yesterday afternoon.
This afternoon, I walked at the same temperature, the same degree of cloudiness, and similar wind as I ran in yesterday. But I was cold. Then it hit me.
Part of why I felt cold was because this is as cold as it has been so far this winter, and I'm not properly acclimated to it yet. But the bigger part is because I'm a runner. Walking just didn't warm me up enough for comfort.
Running has many benefits. I get a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, and the ability to lift weights to the limit of my muscular strength without necessarily breaking a sweat. But I also get to feel cold in temperature that was comfortable walking weather, before I was a runner.
Oh, yeah. I'm carrying less fat around now, too.
So, what to do? I suppose I can learn to dress warmer for walking than I have for the past four decades. Or I can run a bit when out for a walk, just to warm up. Or maybe I'll get lucky and I'll simply acclimate to the cold, and not notice it so much in a week or two.
Thinking back, I was cold when I was losing weight in the summer of 2011. Most work days, I took breaks to leave the air conditioning and walk around the building, in order to warm up. But in the summer of 2012, in maintenance mode, that wasn't a problem. Other things noticed in hindsight lead me to believe I was on too restrictive a diet in 2011; but since I didn't have to stay there all that long to take the weight off, I got away with it. Perhaps I was cold then because I wasn't eating enough to stay warm.
That's another possibility for right now. My weight is hanging out at the low end of my desired range, and has dipped below the range recently. I bumped my calorie range up to force myself to eat at least in the middle of my former range; perhaps I need to eat toward the middle of my current range? How much do I really need to eat to support my running habit?
It's another maintenance puzzle. Either I'm cold because my cardiovascular system is too efficient for walking, or I'm cold because I'm not eating enough. Or perhaps there's a bit of both going on. I'll have to try one thing and another, and see what works to make me comfortable walking in cold weather on non-running days.
One thing I know for sure: Sitting on the couch wrapped in a blanket is the Wrong Answer to this problem.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
The forecast snowstorm arrived, dropping about 9 inches in my driveway. That's right in the middle of the 6 to 12 forecast, which is high for me. Typically I get less than the lower end of the forecast range. Some of the snow on the bottom was wet and heavy, particularly close to the street; and drifting plus the way I have to clear the driveway resulted in my snowblower barely being adequate for the job. OTOH, I didn't get the forecast winds for this morning, so that made it a little easier. I went out to start clearing the driveway at 7 am:
I got done about 9 am:
By noon I was ready to give up on running due to road conditions. That, and I was cold. Clearing the driveway is cold work, and walking between the car and various merchants while running errands was cold. But as I came back from an errand about 1, I saw cleared shoulders on part of a potential running route. What the heck. I got out to run about 3:30, and ran the shorter winter route because I was more confident of shoulders being clear on that one. Tacked a bit of distance on to the end to make 25 minutes, and it came out to 3.61 miles in 25:09, for an average pace of 6:58 per mile:
For reference, from the crest of the big hill at 1.66 miles to the bottom at 2.05 miles is a drop of 107 feet. The relatively slow second mile featured most of the uphill stretch of the big hill as well as the worst footing of the run. "Worst" is a relative term here; it wasn't like running in fresh snow, and I was OK in ordinary running shoes.
This isn't as far as I would have run under better road conditions, but it was a pleasant run. The only down side was that my phone rang, and I was wearing wired headphones to hear the app instead of a bluetooth headset; so I couldn't answer it. That turned out to be a good thing. If it had been my daughter, I would have wanted to talk to her while running; but it turned out to be work reaching out to grab me. I addressed that issue after cooling down and before stretching.
All in all, it's been a pretty good birthday. Normally, I ignore my birthday because it's overshadowed by a much more significant birthday; but I see from comments on my Spark Page that my sister sounded the trumpet today. And that's okay, too.
Life is good.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
It's Wednesday, a non-running day. I took a 40 minute walk in the morning for cardio and steps, and lifted weights this afternoon. It wasn't a great weight lifting session; I had grip issues on the third set of Romanian deadlifts, and I wasn't able to do 45° incline DB chest presses with as much weight as I thought I should be able to use. But it was a weight lifting session, and even a session like this helps maintain the strength. There will be better sessions in the future.
Tomorrow is a scheduled running day. The weather may interfere with that. We are forecast to get 6 to 12 inches of snow overnight, and another 1 to 3 inches during the day tomorrow. My new running shoes have not yet arrived, so I will face the same options for dealing with snow tomorrow that I had to think about yesterday.
The snow has started as I write this, and the way it's falling is consistent with the forecast. I frequently get less snow than is forecast, but this isn't lake effect snow. It's a storm that moved up the Ohio valley. I'm more likely to get as much as forecast from this type of storm. And the important thing isn't really how much snow, but how well the roads are cleared. I need those shoulders to be cleared to run in straight running shoes, and I need the early snow to be cleared to run even if I make screw shoes to run in. Screw shoes don't do a lot for running in even 3 inches of snow.
The other runner in the office tells me it's all good. He describes running in snow as being like running on a sandy beach. You don't go as fast, but you work harder to maintain a slower pace. I might get an opportunity to test that theory.
Meanwhile, the plan is to wait and see what tomorrow afternoon brings before making a decision. I have the early morning to clear my driveway, and I have a 9:30 appointment for an oil change in my car. After that is out of the way, many of the current unknowns about the weather will have become known.
By noon, I should have a firmed up plan. Either I'm running and have a plan for what to do about however much snow we get, or I'm walking. We won't get so much snow that I can't walk.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Saturday I ran in the snow. While I got my run in, the situation pointed out that I need to do something about footwear for running in the snow. Sunday I got to the local running store and ordered another pair of shoes. Yes, ordered. My reality is that my size won't be in stock. Monday I checked at Dick's. They had the shoe I wanted on sale, which means my size wasn't in stock. I left without buying anything.
This morning I woke up and saw snow on the driveway. Sigh. The snow arrived before I was ready to deal with it. I considered my options: Run in straight running shoes. Put more screws into last year's screw shoes to replace the ones lost on Saturday's run. Turn my walking shoes into screw shoes, leaving me with no stability shoes to walk in until my new running shoes come in.
Well, it's Christmas. Traffic will be light even if I wait for daylight. So I had breakfast, then went out to clear the snow off the driveway. There was only a half inch of medium weight snow. The road showed wet traffic lanes, with a snow or slush coating on the shoulder. I expect I can mostly run in the traffic lane, and retreat to the shoulder in the face of oncoming traffic.
Got out to start running about 8:15. It was 30°F (-1°C) with N wind 9 mph. This is weather I understand, and it was easy to dress appropriately. Went to run a standard winter route of 4.63 miles. I can do this same route Thursday, run 8 miles on Saturday, and still be adding less than 10% to last week's mileage total.
There was a bit more traffic that I expected, but it wasn't bad. I encountered 11 oncoming vehicle and had 8 overtake me. The only moderately concerning situation was the time an oncoming vehicle and an overtaking vehicle arrived at about the same time on a steep downhill. I slowed, retreated to the shoulder, and ran a few paces as a heel strike runner. Got through it.
Total time was 32:23, for an average pace of 7:01 per mile. The little hills didn't seem to be as big a deal as they were last year on this route. The pace and elevation chart and the splits according to RunKeeper are:
For reference, there is a 64 foot rise from the low point at 2.5 miles to the crest of the hill at 2.73 miles.
My bad foot complained about this run, but I had a totally sedentary afternoon watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and some episodes of Dr. Who with my daughter. It's possible I'll need to forego my planned run on Thursday; I'll have to see how the foot is doing then.
I note in passing that TV is truly a Lack of Exercise Machine. It's not quite 5 PM, I've run 4.63 miles and done a good walking cooldown this morning, and I haven't hit my 10K steps yet. That's one seriously sedentary afternoon today.
All in all, it's been a good Christmas. I got to candlelight services last night, got a good run in today, and spent a lot of time with my daughter. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Monday, December 24, 2012
I could write a typical Spark blog for today. The scale has me below my desired range for the second day in a row. Perhaps I should increase my calorie range. I lifted weights today, weighing 164.8 in my workout clothes, and I squatted 165 lbs. Squatting my weight is a new accomplishment, made possible by having a lower weight than I had when I first started lifting. Woo-hoo.
I could write all that, expanded somewhat, on Christmas Eve. I could do that because Christmas Eve is low key for me. I'll go to Christmas Eve services later, and sing in the choir; but I have no major social obligations or family celebration. So most of the day could be devoted to paying attention to my fitness journey.
But this Christmas Eve, I'm in a somber mood. When I was out driving to get a few groceries this morning, I turned on the radio. The local news was all talking about a story where not much was known, and people were calling in with what they had seen. In the drives between various shopping stops, the story unfolded. Firefighters in Webster, New York answered a burning building call. When they got there, somebody shot 4 of them, killing two. The initial report of 2 houses burning grew to 4 houses destroyed and 4 more damaged by flames by the time I quit listening. Apparently it was three hours from the initial call before the situation was resolved to the point that firefighters could actually fight the fire.
Somehow, hearing this as it unfolded, before everything was known, makes it hit very hard. And the fact that it's local makes it hit hard. I've been at the place where this happened. My first thought was that this spot was picked because of limited access to get in or out, a military or terrorist consideration. I know someone who is a volunteer firefighter in the next town over. It's possible that his unit might have been called in to fight the fires after there was no longer an active shooter.
That makes it more real to me than the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Maybe I'm shallow, but it's more real because it's closer, and I know the area. And because I heard unfiltered eyewitness reports before I read the composed news stories that organized facts into a coherent pattern.
I turned on the radio briefly a few minutes ago. The local radio personality who had covered the breaking story read these words from a familiar Christmas song:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
This final stanza is a call to faith, in the face of insanity and evil and the apparent lack of peace on earth. I am wrestling with this, finding no other answer than the one God gave to Job. (For those of you who didn't read that far, God refuses to explain anything to Job.) Still, I pray that Wrong may fail, that Right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.
May it be so.
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