How to run during a polar vortex

Wise answer: don’t.

I took the past two days off any activity whatsoever, thanks to this polar vortex thing that’s going on. I even drove to work both days (I live about a kilometre from the newsroom so I always walk)! Rest days are important (something I’ve learned the hard way in past years – injuries are NOT worth it!) and although I freely admit to the odd moment of insanity in my running career, I’m pretty happy to say that as I get older, I realize when a run would just be stupid and reckless. So I stayed off the roads and was happy with that decision!

But by today, I was starting to go stir crazy. My legs just wanted to move, you know? Usually on Wednesdays I’m able to squeeze a swim in at the pool, but today was just not happening. Late Tuesday nights, early Wednesday mornings, and a packed afternoon of interviews meant that by 6 p.m. tonight, I was feeling like one big ball of stress. I needed to do something!

So I talked myself into doing two of my least favourite things…nighttime running in the COLD. Double whammy! I’m a total a.m. runner – I like to head out about 20-30 minutes after waking up. That way by the time I’m actually awake awake, I’m usually a couple kilometres into the run! I also prefer to run on an empty stomach so early morning makes sense. By the end of the day, I’m too tired, too hungry, too not in the mood at all to run! Add in some -25 weather, treacherously slippery and dimly lit country roads and it’s not the best recipe for running.

But like I said, my legs were dying to move and I was feeling antsy and stressed. I’m really nervous these abnormally cold temperatures are going to stick around all winter, which will make training for Boston a little dicey, to say the least. I wanted to go out for a run tonight I guess just to make sure I could still do something for Boston. I’m not following a strict training plan yet (I’m starting Jan. 22) but I thought a run tonight would be a great mental and physical test. Gotta get those tough practice runs in now, you know? I’m a firm believer that it’s the crappy runs where you’re feeling tired, sluggish, cold, slow, etc. that actually make you a stronger, better and ultimately faster runner and racer.

Plus it was only -9 (woo hoo!) with hardly any wind – score!

This is what I wore:

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Ninja Katie

To wit: four layers of shirts (dri-fit, tech fabric short-sleeved T, long-sleeved tech fabric half-zip, fleece half-zip, wind and water-resistent jacket); two pairs of pants (sweat-wicking double-layer tights and looser tech fabric pants); one pair of knee-length athletic socks; two pairs of gloves; one headband; one head cover that can be pulled up to your nose; and the hood of my running jacket pulled up. Whew! I actually ended up breaking a sweat under all those layers, and was pleasantly toasty throughout the run.

My jacket, gloves and bottom cuff of my pants are reflective, so that was great, but I would like to either get some kind of headlight or light I can strap to my arm for traffic. The roads weren’t too bad and cars were driving slow and carefully, but there was still quite a bit of traffic. I tried to stick to residential streets instead of country roads, and ran mostly on the side of the road in the soft snow rather than the unplowed, icy sidewalks.

I ended up doing 12.7 km at a 5″20/km pace – resulting in my watch flashing me a weak “Good effort” at the end. Screw you, Nike! I am quite happy with 12+ km in the cold snow and at night! So I told myself, “Fantastic job!” instead and then changed into this for stretching and foam rolling:

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Boston in April has got to have better weather than what we’re going through now, right???

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