Running: Getting Through A Shortened Winter

Snow storm

Al Jazeera English under Creative Commons

I’ve had it lucky for the past year. My training for my first ever half marathon in October took place during an unusually cool summer for these parts. The polar vortex wasn’t done with us come spring time, but that just meant we wouldn’t roast so much. Plus, I was out of work for most of the summer, so I had mornings to run. (Made job hunting that much more bearable.) Then came winter. And El Niño. We had 50s and 60s through most of December and January, the dark really the only obstacle to running. Then came February. It was in the 60s the day Punxsutawney Phil emerged for his annual photo op. But for a couple of weeks in the middle of the month, we had some cold ones.

If this were a normal winter, I would have forced myself to suck it up and run outside or gone into work (only 15 minutes away. Sweet commute.) to use the training center. But it’s been warm, and the cold days have been few. I’ve occasionally skipped a workout, though usually it had to do with scheduling, not the weather. But then we had Valentine’s Day, which had low 20s and a snowstorm. And I had an 18-mile workout I absolutely could not postpone. I’m coming into March, when my Sunday workouts, and even some weekday workouts, will be loooong. In April, I have a 26-mile run scheduled, the length of a marathon. After that, I need to taper before the Flying Pig on May 1.

So what’s a poor boy to do when the weather doesn’t cooperate?

Run inside my apartment.

OK, that’s insane. Or is it? Many times, I do a Saturday morning workout, which is usually 3-4 miles, by running back and forth in the apartment. I figure a 14-minute mile, which is almost a power walk for me, and multiply by however many miles I want to do. For 3 miles, it’s 42 minutes. The longest I’d done is 7 miles, which is an hour and 38 minutes. I did it basically because I’d gotten home late one night and didn’t want to run up Reading Road in the dark. I don’t live in the most crime-ridden neighborhood in Cincinnati, but why take chances? This from a man who chides Cincinnatians for freaking out over their relatively low crime rate. (If homicides make triple digits in one year, everyone panics. Most cities our size wish they could get down to 100 a year.)

But 18 miles? That’s four hours and twelve minutes. Could I do that?

Yes. Thanks to audiobooks.

Did it hurt?

Yes. Even with a knee brace.

Would I do it again?

Not this year. This past weekend saw 50s and 60s, perfect for a longer workout on Saturday and an “easy” 9 miles on Sunday. This week has been upper 30s and low 40s in the evenings, not bad. Not my favorite running weather, but not bad. This weekend might be chilly, but I have to do 20 miles.

After that, we’re into March. And rain. El Niño always brings rain to Ohio in the late winter and early spring.

It beats trying to run on ice.

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