Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Running lessons: Be prepared

Back in the day, I was a girl guide. (Yeah, I know. No big surprise there.)  For those who aren't familiar with Girl Guides, their motto is "be prepared".  It's a motto many distance runners adopt as well.  Unfortunately, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been when I set out for my long run on Sunday.

To start with, I'd been lulled into complacency by the mild weather we've been having lately and forgot to pack the gaiter and warm mitts I needed to run comfortably in temperatures that dipped to -19 degrees.  Running up river, the wind was so cold it brought tears to my eyes before freezing them to my lashes, and made my fingers ache.

Fortunately, I had remembered to bring some cash with me so was able to stop at a store a few kilometres from home to purchase mitts to replace my thin fleece gloves, though I had no luck finding a gaiter. Nonetheless, I headed back to the trail to finish my 21km run, counting on the beauty of the day to outweigh my discomfort - and mostly it did. I took the photo above as I ran toward the town's "old bridge", the point at which I turned to run the last 2 kms towards home. Cold as my face was at that point, I couldn't help but enjoy the intensely blue skies and sunshine after so many weeks of grey.

Of course, "be prepared" is a useful motto for life generally.  It is, for example, a good idea to keep first aid and other emergency supplies at hand, and to take regular first aid and CPR training so you know how to use them. Personally, I never travel by car in winter without a shovel and warm clothes, and keep jumper cables, a spare tire, a flashlight and extra fuses in the car year-round. At our country house, we installed an old-fashioned corded phone, usable when the power's out and the cordless phones won't work, and check and replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as recommended. And one of the first things we did when we bought the place was install a wood-burning fireplace insert so that we can heat it when the furnace is out of commission.

It's a good idea to "be prepared" for the emotional, psychological and physical challenges life throws at you as well. The past year brought home to me just how important it is to build and maintain good relationships (with friends, family, colleagues and health practitioners), healthy habits (running, yoga, journaling, and spiritual practice) and a strong work ethic in the good times so that I'm prepared to cope when "darkness" falls. Sick in body, mind or in spirit, it's much harder to develop what you need to find your way back to the light.

What about you, dear reader?  What do you need to "be prepared" for life?


  1. I admire your determination and committment to your running, Janice! As I read about your very cold adventure, and other bloggers who run in the cold, I am considering (considering!) getting out there for my long runs on the weekend. Treadmill running for any more than an hour is so boring - and I really should step up!

    Being prepared is very important - and I think my preparedness for life and what it could throw at me is to maintain my running, breathe, and live in the NOW (always easier said than done).

    BTW - add some chocolate stash to your winter driving survival kit - excellent for keeping up your energy just in case :)

  2. Glad to hear yuu're considering getting outside, Janet. It really is wonderful - even when it's cold.

    And thanks for the suggestion re chocolate. :-)

  3. Girl Guide? Is that like Girl Scouts? I didn't click on the link because I was finger lazy...

  4. Yup. Just like Girl Scouts - except that we promised to do our duty "to God, the Queen and our country." I expect Scouts leave out the middle bit. ;-)