Sunday, March 15, 2015

Running lessons: Ice can be a good thing

No, I'm not injured. The ice isn't cooling an inflamed knee or ankle. Or cooling a rum and coke. It's on sidewalks and trails, clinging to trees and covering lakes and rivers. In the past couple of months, we've had more ice in Nova Scotia than I can remember us having in years. In Halifax and on the south shore, sidewalks and side streets have been coated with six or eight inches of the stuff for weeks. Repeated bouts of snow followed by freezing rain followed by frigid temperatures have made it virtually impossible to get rid of it.

Here's a photo of particularly nasty patch I ran across last weekend.

As you can imagine, all the ice has made running outside a challenge. Nevertheless, I've consistently run three times a week, risking life and limb in an effort to regain some degree of fitness. I can't say I've always enjoyed it but at least I've seen some results. I've dropped the weight I put on over the holidays and running is feeling a lot more comfortable. In fact, over the past two weeks, I've had a few awesome runs - the kind that feel so good I don't want them to end.

In a weird way, I think all the ice has been a good thing. It's forced me to focus on form and slow down so I don't end up on my ass. It's strengthened core muscles and improved my balance. And it increased my confidence by making me feel like a seriously badass runner.

What it hasn't improved is my pace. It's embarrassingly slow these days - slower than it's been in years. On the upside, the slow pace leaves me feeling invigorated rather exhausted at the end of my runs, and I seem to recover more quickly.

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm intrigued by the notion of "effortless exercise" so plan to use whatever winter weather remains as an excuse to run much more slowly until my body lets me know it's really wants to go faster. Based on yesterday's long run, I think there may be something to it.

Husband and I did the first 7k together. (This is us looking cold and happy at the 5k mark.)

Since he's just getting back into to running, I was particularly careful to start slowly and set a pace I hoped would be comfortable for him. At the 7k mark, he headed  home (he only wanted to run 9k) and I did another loop along the river (for a total of nearly 14k). On the second loop, I noticed my body still felt good though a little twitchy - as if it wanted to go faster - so I slowly began to speed up, finishing at a pace 45-60 seconds per km faster than our starting pace. Despite running the second half so much faster, I arrived back at the house feeling better than I have at the end of a long run in months.

As expected, we weren't able to run today. We got six inches of snow again last night, followed by rain, freezing rain and snow showers today - in short, a helluva mess. On the upside, I got a few nice photos when I ventured out late this afternoon, including these two and the one at the top of this post.

Another nice thing about today's weather was that Husband and I had to time to talk about how we want to celebrate our 25th anniversary in a few months. I jokingly suggested we have a photographer take a picture of us in our wedding clothes so we pulled my dress and his suit out of our closets and tried them on. Amazingly, they still fit - though we may want to move a button on Husband's suit jacket an inch or so. Not bad for a couple of old farts. Too bad the dress is sooooo 1990s.

That's it for now, folks. I'll be on the road early tomorrow on account of the road conditions so need to sleep soon. Until next time, happy running and writing!

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