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Morning Run on a Busy Thursday

Thursday, January 03, 2013

It's Thursday, a work at home day. It's also a long day, because I have training for my volunteer job in the evening. The original plan was to squeeze in a run at lunch.

Well, it's winter in Rochester, NY. Yesterday evening I lost my planned weight lifting session to clearing snow from the driveway. The forecast for today was more snow starting about noon. So I planned to forego my steel cut oats this morning in favor of quick cooking oatmeal, and use the time to clear the driveway.

The driveway didn't need clearing in the morning. The temperature was 16F (-9C), and the Weather Channel claimed it was calm. But the wind was forecast to increase through the day.

So I went out and ran before working at home. Covered 4.32 miles in 31:20, for an average pace of 7:15 per mile. That's a little slower than a normal run of that distance, but there was snow and slush on the shoulders. It's a good time for the conditions. And there was a bit of a south wind, but all in all it was a pleasant winter morning's run.

Got home, stretched, started working. Broke for lunch, and didn't need the run. So I cleared the driveway (which needed it by then), ate, and started this blog.

My first year of Sparking, I was blessed with a mild winter. That let me learn to run in the cold weather without being distracted by bad footing. This year, we have a more normal winter. The temperature isn't a big deal, because I figured that part out a year ago. Now I'm learning to deal with a normal level of snow for being downwind of Lake Ontario. This can be done.

Now, back to work before the full evening. At least my 10K steps for the day are secure.

Life is good.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ON2VICTORY 1/4/2013 1:23PM

    I kinda forgot how much snow Rochester can get... ahhhh the memories :S

The snowblower...survival tool #1.

great job on the run.... you are a machine bud!

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MEXGAL1 1/4/2013 9:52AM

    I'd say a good day.....have a terrific Friday!

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MSLZZY 1/4/2013 7:26AM


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DALID414 1/3/2013 10:15PM

    Did you get the shoes you ordered yet?

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RUN4FOOD 1/3/2013 10:00PM

    Great day.

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RG_DFW 1/3/2013 6:42PM


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    Life truly is good!!!!

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New Year's Day: Running, Budgeting, and Calorie Thoughts

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

On December 31, 2011, I went to bed at my normal time. This was a novel thing on New Year's Eve, prompted by an emphasis on getting enough sleep learned from SparkPeople. It worked out well.

On December 31, 2012, I remembered the previous year and chose to go to bed at 9:30. I've been getting enough sleep lately, so I was up at 5 before the alarm on a day when most people sleep late. I was leisurely about my morning routine, and still made it out to run by 7:15.

The forecast had called for light snow showers, slowly falling temperatures, and slowly increasing wind. When I went out, it was 28F (-2C) and cloudy with WNW wind at 11 mph. The predicted snow showers were not in evidence. Because it was not yet full daylight, I wore my headlight and taillight; but traffic was light. This was an anticipated benefit of running early on New Year's Day.

Had a pleasant 4.64 mile run, finishing at 32:32 for a 7:01 average pace per mile. I felt really good, and it was tempting to keep running for another two and a half minutes to get that next Spark Point. But I held to the planned route. My bad foot handled this distance well on Christmas Day, and reacted well to a reduced distance last Thursday; I want to give it a chance to react well and still be able to run 8 miles on Saturday.

Late in the run I thought I was getting a feel for what negative splits are like, but after looking at the splits I think I just used the first quarter or half mile as a warmup:

Later that morning, I did my normal budgeting for January. I use a program/method called YNAB, which is a zero-based budgeting system with a delay. What that means is, I budget for January with income I receive in December, and for February with income I receive in January. January's budget was routine, but I should have lower net pay in January due to the expiration of the temporary Social Security tax reduction. So I did an estimate of what that would do to my net pay, and trimmed 3.7% out of my par budget for February to put it where I can easily adjust it for actual January income.

Knocking 3.7% out of the par budget made me think about choices. As I was contemplating that, it struck me that this is similar to adjusting the daily calorie range for the nutrition tracker. At least, it's similar the way I do it where I track everything and eat to the ranges.

I have participated in many internet discussions on budgeting, sometimes with people who make over twice what I do but have trouble making ends meet. It's easy to say that they ought to have it very easy, and to a certain extent they do. Once they realize they can't spend more than their income, they have a lot of places where they can cut spending to fit income. But the cutting is painful for them, even though they're cutting stuff I never added into my budget in the first place.

I was reminded of this by my sister's blog from yesterday, The Facts of Life:

In that blog, she discusses how some people (males, with me as the prime example) get way more calories than other people (women, particularly petite women like her) and how she needs to suck it up and deal with it even though it isn't fair. She concludes that she can appreciate that her life is good even if she can't live on my daily maintenance range, which she described as being a binge day for her. How she emotionally feels about my issues of dealing with the changing maintenance range must be much like I feel about people with two or three times my income having trouble making ends meet. There will be intellectual understanding, but perhaps not much emotional sympathy.

But here's the deal in maintenance: From time to time, I need to adjust my calorie range up or down, in response to what is going on in my life and how the scale is reacting to my life. I don't want to outgrow my clothes, and it's dangerous to my health to lose too much weight. Those incremental calorie changes are like incremental budget changes. They require choices. In the case of calorie reductions, it means giving up food I've become accustomed to eating. I got some practice with that in 2012, as I had to reduce the calories I ate by as much as 25% in response to injury making me unable to be as active as I had been. That was an adjustment, much like cutting the budget. I had to find enough calories of food that I was willing to give up, while preserving the appropriate minimum amount of protein. (Minimum amount of fat is rarely an issue, and minimum amount of carbs is never an issue for me.)

In the case of an increase in the calorie range, it's not just making the numbers go up. I have to find something to eat to stay above that minimum number, on a consistent basis. That turns out to be trickier than budgeting an increased income, where the increase can always go into retirement savings or some other form of deferred spending. I can't defer eating calories I need this week. Finding a way to eat another 100 or 200 calories per day, and spreading them around so they don't all pile up in the evening, requires thoughtful decisions.

Actually, it's not the single increment of 100 calories; it's the cumulative effect of reversing that 25% reduction, plus adding a bit more to it, 100 and 200 calories at a time. One step is easy to sneak into the evening; but at some point, I need to eat more at breakfast, more at lunch, and more during the day so I'm not at the crash and burn point before I get to evening.

It's a good problem to have. I also have to remember that life is not constant. At some future point, I will be less active than I am now and need to trim those calories out of my nutrition plan. That's easier than adding, because trimming the calories will mean getting back to a way I ate somewhere on the trip of adding calories. The memory of how I did it before will make the decisions easier. But either way, adding calories to the plan or cutting them, is okay. It's just something that I need to do to successfully maintain my weight.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 1/2/2013 2:54PM

    I like your idea to adapting your calorie budget to your life changes. I didn't consider this before, but it sounds reasonable.

Are you doing the budgeting once per month (for money), or are you entering data daily?
Is it on a desktop or on a tablet/phone?

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MSLZZY 1/1/2013 10:50PM

    Calories, reductions, percentages-you thought of
everything and examined life from every angle.
I may have to hire you. Have a great Wednesday!

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MJREIMERS 1/1/2013 8:58PM

    Wow, that's a lot of thinking, evaluating and doing for the first day of the year! Bravo for you! 2013 is going to be a emoticon year for you!

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RUN4FOOD 1/1/2013 8:46PM

    Budgeting calories and money are similar.
For me I know if I exercise more I can eat more and if I sell more I can save more.

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2012 Weight Maintenance in Review

Monday, December 31, 2012

Most of my recent blogs have focused on fitness and injury recovery. On this last day of 2012, I'd like to look back at weight loss and weight control, a.k.a. "maintenance."

2012 was the first full calendar year of maintenance for me. On January 1, I weighed in at 165.0 lbs. I thought I was done losing weight. 165 had been a stretch goal for weight loss that seemed unachievable, and I got there!

On December 31, I weighed in at 159.8 lbs. I wasn't trying to lose weight in 2012, I was trying to make the weight trend go sideways. The rear view mirror says the trend didn't truly become sideways until about the start of May. For the first four months of the year, I kept adjusting my concept of goal weight downward. Some time during the middle of the year, I settled on 160 to 163 as my desired goal range. Since May 1, I count 8 days when my weight was outside that range, 2 higher and 6 lower. The last three low points were December 23, 24, and 31, all at 159.8.

There's no secret why the weight is doing what it is; I've been running more, and not eating enough more. I'm trying to correct that. My current calorie range is the highest it's been since I've been on SparkPeople, and I may have to move it up another 100 calories to get myself to consistently eat a little more. This is scary. I did quite well on 2800 calories per day, and it's hard to adjust to 3100 calories. But I know it's way too easy to add an extra 2000 calories if I don't track.

Fiddling with the calorie range in response to what the scale does has worked for me in 2012. The lower end of my calorie range (which I think about much more than the upper end) has ranged from 2200 to 3000 calories in 2012, depending on what was going on. Here's what the weight did in 2012:

Longer term, here's what the weight did from 2002 to 2012:

Edit to add: The labels didn't show up as well as I hoped. From left to right, they are: End of 2004, First time weight lifting. End of 2007, Budget becomes major focus. Summer 2009, 2009 Rodent Diet. July 2011, Started SparkPeople. Early October, 2011, Started maintenance.

One of the nice things about weighing daily is that I can look back at where I've been and connect it to what was going on in my life at the time. I won't bore you with all the details, but here are a few highlights that relate to how I ended up in maintenance on SparkPeople.

I went through a divorce process that lasted from August 2002 to August 2004. In late 2004, I made my first serious effort at weight loss, focusing on eating only when I was hungry and getting some exercise, primarily walking. I took up weight lifting in January 2005, and I was impressed with my success on the weight front. Then I bounced off 185, which was still 3 pounds above the top of healthy BMI for me.

Various things happened in my life, and I struggled to maintain. At the end of 2007, my daughter dropped out of college. This simultaneously increased my expenses while cutting my after-tax income. As a result, my major focus in 2008 had to be learning to budget. I was successful; but the weight piled back on and I achieved my lifetime high weight of 221 in late December, 2008.

In 2009, mice were spotted where I work. My employer instituted a new food policy: No food at the desk. All food brought for consumption must be in sealed containers, and must be consumed in the first floor cafeteria. No open containers food were to be on the working floor. I jokingly called this the "rodent diet," and it helped me lose weight down to 191. Until the restrictions, I did not realize how many times I was mindlessly wandering away from my desk for a piece of chocolate.

After the rodent diet restrictions relaxed, I tried to maintain the same discipline, with mixed success. I got my weight down to 185 again, but failed to keep it there. In the summer of 2011, I visited my sister. She was thinner than I remembered ever seeing her before in my life, and she nudged me into SparkPeople. I grudgingly admitted that I couldn't out-train a crappy diet.

I set what I thought was an ambitious goal, 175. I achieved that in 12 weeks and spent 8 more weeks nominally in maintenance but actually losing another 10 pounds while learning how to not lose weight.

The weight loss phase with SparkPeople stands out on that graph, doesn't it? The rodent diet showed a comparable result of losing, but the loss wasn't sustained. However, with SparkPeople I think I've figured out maintenance. Yes, that sideways trend is short on the scale of 11 years; but it's a sideways trend of more than a year, and a tight sideways trend of 7 months.

These days, I'm more focused on the fitness side than the diet side. I'm concerned with how much I can run, how many pullups I can do, how much weight I can lift. These things aren't trivial; but managing my weight is a higher priority. It just happens to be a fairly easy priority to achieve, which allows me to have a lot of attention for other priorities.

I can't believe I just wrote that managing my weight is easy. But there you have it. I benefit from living alone and controlling the food that comes into my house as well as the food that goes into my mouth. If I weight, measure, and track everything, it really isn't that hard. The only tricky part is recognizing when the targets for what I eat need to change. And I've got some weight graphs showing I've managed to do that acceptably well in 2012.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ONEKIDSMOM 12/31/2012 7:36PM

    OK, don't laugh. Your tiny little sister here is about to have a Toddler Barbie style tantrum on the floor, kicking her little patent leather shoes! I got as far as this sentence and had to leave the room to pour myself another cup of coffee before I finished reading the blog. It's NOT FAIR! It's NOT FAIR!

The sentence? "I did quite well on 2800 calories per day, and it's hard to adjust to 3100 calories."

Dude, I start gaining at about 1700 calories a day. I drift down on 1400. Maintain pretty well in the 1500 - 1600 range, but have to run a lot to eat more. Sigh. You may complain about Mr. Testosterone talking to you, but the biology of body composition and your 6 foot frame (compared to my 5' 3") leads to this.

All that little tongue in cheek tantrum aside, though, I have to say I'm happier today, and enjoy my 1500 - 1600 calories a day, truly enjoy them. You may get twice as many to maintain... but they can't taste any better than mine! emoticon

Life's oh, so good, here in Spark-land. Spark on. emoticon

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RUN4FOOD 12/31/2012 6:43PM

You've achieved quite a bit and learned even more about yourself and what works for you.
It looks like 2013 will be another good year for you.
Stay healthy and continue doing what you know how to do.

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DALID414 12/31/2012 4:16PM

    I just hit my goal weight today, I hope my maintenance is as easy as yours.

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RG_DFW 12/31/2012 11:28AM

    "If I weigh, measure, and track everything, it isn't that hard." .. So true! How many blogs do we read where people want to make this the hardest thing in the world!

I've got to admit that it took a little while for me to figure it out, but it really is pretty simple once you break through all the hype and negativism involving weight loss and fitness (and stick with it).

Congrats on your success!

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KRISZTA11 12/31/2012 11:22AM

    Congrats to your successful weight maintenance!
Your graphs look amazing.

I wish I could say that about myself but I hope 2013 will be my year of success.

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MEXGAL1 12/31/2012 10:28AM

    good look at things. Yep, it sure is easier to eat right and keep the right things in your home when you live alone. I know when my DH travels and I am alone I don't have a problem but when he is here he wants to eat out more. But so far my way of eating as if I am on a diet all the time accept for when we go out is working for me.
Happy New Year!

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MSLZZY 12/31/2012 10:00AM

    Since I am a little challenged when it come to the
technology of setting up graphs, etc, I use my memory
to take a walk back in time. I analyze where I have
been and then, where I need to be. On doctor's orders,
I have maintained 130-135 pounds quite nicely. I am
up a little this morning and will grant myself this
last day of the year to organize my thoughts for 2013.
May all go well with you in the New Year.

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SWEDE_SU 12/31/2012 9:53AM

    it looks like you've done a fantastic job in 2012 - it seems like staying on top of it and analyzing the situation are necessary to avoid slipping back into the mindless approach that brought us to where we were in the pre-SP days. have a great 2013 of maintenance! emoticon

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PEZMOM1 12/31/2012 9:46AM


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Miscellaneous Sunday Musings

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Today is Sunday, a non-running day and a traditional day of rest. I don't feel as beat up as I did a week ago, but there's nothing major on the exercise agenda. That leaves me some time to take stock of where I stand and think about a lot of different pieces of the fitness puzzle.

Today I didn't get a walk in before church. I needed the time to clear snow from the driveway, for the fourth time in 24 hours. As I was shoveling, it struck me: I'm not sore, even though I muscled the snowblower around once and shoveled twice yesterday, throwing snow over the piles at the side of the driveway both times.

This is why I lift weights. I may motivate the lifts with the idea of squatting my weight or deadlifting 137% of my weight, but I lift to have functional strength. To me, "functional strength" means I can do real stuff. Like shovel snow and not be sore the next day.

The bad foot is clearly not up to running today, but it's better than it was last week on Sunday. Today it let me walk at a 14:30 or so pace, while I was over a 15 minute mile last week. RunKeeper even reported a split pace under 14 minutes for the last part of my walk when my bladder was motivating me to hurry toward home.

Not feeling creaky today is a big deal, considering I had my long run yesterday and also had over 20K steps, the highest I've had in one day since I've tracked. Really? Didn't I run 9 miles once? Turns out I didn't. I ran 8.89 miles in 65 minutes on December 31, 2011. I had over 19K steps that day, but didn't break 20K. Yesterday I also added some steps from shoveling snow twice and from some shopping.

I looked at some of my blogs from last December and January. In hindsight, I see the genesis of the injury problems that plagued me for most of 2012. I banged up my right thigh, and kept running on it when I should have taken time completely off. This altered my gait, and probably caused or was a major contributor to my foot injury. I hope I've learned the appropriate lessons from that; but I'll find out for sure only if I haven't.

The work schedule returns to normal on Wednesday. I'll try to hold to the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday running schedule, possibly with minor variations to work around my volunteer job doing taxes. If we get a normal winter instead of the mild winter we got last year, this could be challenging. For now, I'm happy with a 4 week streak of running three days a week.

I have a couple weeks to decide whether I'm going to sign up for a half marathon on April 28. I like the idea, but the bad foot could still require me to back off. I don't particularly want to downsize to the 5K in 2013 like I did in 2012. Right now, the indicators are that the foot is getting better; but will it get enough better to run a half by the end of April? I don't know at this point.

Right now, I'm feeling pretty good. I'll get my 10K steps in today, but not a whole lot more. I might lift weights this evening, or I might defer that till tomorrow. I could get three weight lifting sessions in this week, but it's likely to only be two per week after that while I have both a full time job and a volunteer job going on.

That about covers the details. Now, what are the bigger picture goals?

1. Don't get injured, and recover from the foot injury.
2. Run 3 days a week.
3. Support running with appropriate strength training.
4. Run a half marathon.

Remember the priority order, Kevin. Don't let that fourth priority mess up any of the first three.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BLITZEN40 12/31/2012 1:46AM

    Way to go on your running streak! Good luck with the tax prep volunteer job after the fiscal cliff plunge. Should be good times. Looks like you have a great list of goals for the year. emoticon

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MSLZZY 12/30/2012 10:51PM

    Keep those priorities in order and you should do well.

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RUN4FOOD 12/30/2012 9:32PM

    Your foot seems to keep getting better, which is good.
Hope you can make you goal of running a half marathon, while keeping your other priorities as more important.
I would guess you have some good functional strength.
I bet my whole body would be hurting if I had shoveled snow yesterday.

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RG_DFW 12/30/2012 5:14PM

    Good list... I'm cheering for you!

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/30/2012 4:41PM

    Yep. Keeping the priorities straight... and in the right order. Vital.

Today was my long and slow, and I stopped at ten miles on the TM. My previous long a couple of weeks back was 10.32. So I'm at this weird place, too... but don't want to be ramping up the distance too soon for that May marathon.

Happy rest day!

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Saturday Long Slow Run and Snow

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I found one way to stay warm walking in cold weather: Run 8 miles first. Then the half mile walking cooldown doesn't feel cold. Too bad that's a method that can't be used every day.

It's Saturday, the day for my long slow run. The weather forecast had Rochester on the northern edge of the next snow storm, with snow showers early, followed by light snow, followed by more snow showers. Translation: It was supposed to snow all day long.

I got up this morning, and saw my driveway was black. Snow isn't here yet, good! The plan was to run early, before the snow got deep. I find running with snow in the air pleasant; it's snow on the ground that sometimes causes me concern. I figured I was in the clear, and went with steel cut oats for breakfast. As a result, I didn't hit the road till almost 7:30, when it was practically full daylight.

At that point the temperature was 26F (-3C), with NNE wind 9 mph and light snow in the air. My driveway was coated in snow. I'm outside in my straight running shoes, not having a functional pair of screw shoes right now. The short warmup up and down my street convinced me the snow wasn't deep enough to be a problem yet, so off I went. I ran a route that was mostly the same as last Saturday, with minor variation late in the route.

I was able to run in the traffic lane much of the time, and the quality of the snow covering on the shoulders made it practical to run there when there was oncoming traffic. Since there wasn't much new snow on top of the foot or so already on the ground, it wasn't all that big a deal. And the wind wasn't as bad as a week ago. I was able to hold a fairly steady pace.

Over the course of the run, the snow accumulated enough that screw shoes would have been a real convenience on the side roads late in the route. And I could have run on the shoulders earlier to preserve the screws. But it worked out OK with straight running shoes.

The elevation and pace chart, plus splits:

The slow pace at the beginning is mostly because I fumbled with getting my iPhone back in its holster during the 5 second delay for starting. I nominally was aiming for an 8 minute mile pace, and ended up at 8.05 miles in 1:03:08 for an average pace of 7:51. Close enough, and it felt comfortable.

The bad foot felt better before the run than it has in some time. I think the shorter run on Thursday helped. Then it complained about walking around the house barefoot after the run; I put shoes on as soon as practical. While the 8 miles irritated the bad foot, I don't think it's quite as irritated as it was the past two weeks. Tomorrow I should know for sure. In any event, about 8 miles still looks like my limit for long runs right now.

The rest of the day was dominated by the weather. My daughter called to cancel her Saturday visit for laundry and lunch. She lives in a denser population area, and wanted to stay home to defend her on-street parking place. Or, as she put it, go move her car, shovel her parking spot, and re-park every three hours so she can get out tomorrow.

Where I am, which gets less lake effect snow than were she is, I've cleared my driveway twice and need to go out and give it a third pass. By 11 AM there was enough snow to justify using the snowblower, but I got by with just a shovel the second time. I think I'll get by with a shovel for the third pass as well.

Such is winter in Rochester, NY. I expect I'll have minor amounts of snow to deal with for the next 2 or 3 days or until the next storm comes through, whichever comes first.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEXGAL1 12/30/2012 10:14AM

    Glad you got a good run in and a work out with the snow.
Have a terrific day.

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MSLZZY 12/30/2012 7:58AM

    You got your run in and the extra cardio from
shoveling was a bonus. Take care of that foot. You
may need it tomorrow.

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GENEVIE5 12/30/2012 5:25AM

    I ran 16k yesterday in cold conditions as well ( -14C ). The ground was very slippery so I turned to my faithful "Yak-Tracks " ( these rubber coils that stretch to fit the bottom of my sneakers ) and was I ever glad I did. It took myself and my running partner forever to complete it considered the icy roads that were snow packed, but after all, we did decided to train for a HM in February!

Good for you!

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BREWMASTERBILL 12/29/2012 11:55PM

    For winter runs, I like to do shorts and a long sleeved T-shirt with a short sleeved T over the top. The first 1/2 mile is cold, especially on the legs, but by mile 2, I'm usually sweating. It could be that the south is a little warmer, but today it was 37 degrees with some frozen precip (which is unusually cold here, but close to what you're describing where you're at) and it worked well.

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_LINDA 12/29/2012 11:09PM

    Well done with your run in spite of all around poor conditions. I don't know how you managed to run in ordinary shoes with that much snow!! Sorry your bad foot is getting in the way of doing anything longer, though eight miles is impressive at that rate for sure! Hope you are not too sore tomorrow!!

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CELIAMINER 12/29/2012 9:47PM

    You are much braver than I am. I looked out at the snow today and thought how inviting the treadmill looked.


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NWFL59 12/29/2012 8:10PM

    Your success is terrific. I like your fortitude and ability to tolerate running out in cold conditions. Today I went for my 5+ mile walk and felt like I was turning into a popcicle even though I had on 3 layers of clothes, headcover, and gloves (in addition to my all too abundant body insulation). My temps were in the mid 40s with a 9 mph NW wind and the temp dropped down to 40 by the time I finished. Oh well, at least we both got our aerobics in and reached our respective daily goals for that at least. I'm still need my motivation for ST but that is one of my written goals for my 2013 health improvement program. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RUN4FOOD 12/29/2012 7:04PM

    At least your last mile was at an 8 minute per mile pace.
Do you ever see any other runners while you are out running in the snow? I would think runners would be few are far between during this time of year.

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ONEKIDSMOM 12/29/2012 6:02PM

    I'm being a lazy bum today. With temps in the single digits this morning, I have stayed in after a morning appointment. Partly so I could swap IM's with your nephew, and partly just to be warm.

I've wimped back to mostly walking on the treadmill, very few jog intervals, and breaking it up into 15 minute segments. We'll see what it adds to by the end of the day.

One day at a time! Happy New Year!

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DALID414 12/29/2012 5:59PM

    And to think I was miserable running errands in the rain!

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BARBANNA 12/29/2012 5:40PM


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RG_DFW 12/29/2012 5:20PM

    Stay safe!

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