Thursday, January 7, 2016

Running lessons: Contemplating my intentions for 2016

My running year got off to a rocky start last weekend.

On Saturday, I headed out for what I intended to be an 18k run but ran out of steam after 10k and called Husband to come pick me up.  It wasn't that it was especially cold or slippery. In fact conditions on the roads and sidewalks were quite good as I headed upriver to Cookville Bridge. The scenery was nice too, with plenty of fresh snow under bright blue skies.

The trouble started when I reached the bridge and began my journey back along the Centennial Trail. I discovered ATVs had been there before me, creating deep tracks through the heavy snow that had fallen the week before. The tracks were too narrow to run in comfortably, and the frozen treadmarks at the bottom of them made running treacherous. After just a couple of kilometres, my energy and enthusiasm for completing the run evaporated.

Happily, the 8k Husband and I tackled together on Sunday was much better. Temperatures were comfortable and we were able to avoid the trail for the most part. I pushed the pace a little in the first 5k so the last 3k felt harder than they needed to - the downside of running "naked" (i.e. without a device to measure our speed) - but it was a good workout all the same.

We spent most of the rest of the weekend hanging out by the fire, reading and discussing our intentions for the coming year. Inspired by a friend, and recognizing that real life tends to interfere with the best laid plans, I've decided to formulate "intentions" rather than "resolutions" this year. The idea is to focus on the things that matter most to me, while avoiding the negative self-talk that often accompanies failed resolutions.

For inspiration, I reread the last two chapters of "Older, Faster, Stronger" by Margaret Webb. The book provides plenty of evidence that "masters" athletes with good training and nutrition can be faster and stronger, and continue training longer than most people think - even into their 70s, 80s and 90s. Scientists, who have only recently begun studying older runners, have discovered our bodies have much more capacity to heal and regenerate than previously thought. Given how discouraged I've felt about my running lately, it was exactly what I needed to read.  I haven't yet settled on running goals for 2016, but I'm determined not to capitulate to "common sense" notions that I ought to run less now that I'm in my mid-50s. It ain't necessarily so.

I spent another good chunk of the weekend hanging out with Nemmie, who's become a total glutton for belly rubs lately, which is odd given how independent she is. Even now, she's quick to make it clear that she doesn't want to be picked up or confined in any way. On the other hand, she happily spends hours sprawled on her back on the floor, the bed, or "her" chair sleeping and being petted. What a goof!

We planned to take our Christmas tree down before heading back to the city Monday morning but couldn't quite bring ourselves to do it. We especially enjoyed the tree this year because it was decorated with tin ornaments given to us by Husband's sister, Maryanne, who passed away last winter. She and Husband's parents (who died a few months before and after Maryanne) all loved birds so we placed a few silver bird ornaments amongst the branches, and adorned the top with St. Nicholas carrying a bird house. The ornaments were a lovely way to keep Ma, Pa and Maryanne front and centre throughout the season, which was sad but oddly comforting as well.

I'm having another busy week at work so haven't yet had a chance to finalize my New Year's intentions, but I think my word for the year may be "goodbye". More on that in my next post.

Until then, happy running and writing, friends!


  1. That book sounds like a good one for me to read. I'll have to look it up. What's been odd for me lately is that walking is kind of cranky right after getting up and then it mostly settles down. Running is almost always good.

    1. Yes, I think you'd enjoy it. I suggested L read it too. Lots of great nutritional and training advice for older runners. Is it your hip flexors giving you grief? If so, I'd recommend sorting it out sooner rather than later. That's how my issues started last year. Running felt fine but I had trouble going from sitting to standing and my right hip and butt would get really tight and uncomfortable when I walked. Eventually, my leg would get kind of numb. No fun at all!!