Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week six: I *heart* two-degree weather, and the importance of cross-training

Yay!!! I just checked The Weather Network, and for the first time in weeks, the forecast is 2 degrees and there's no snow or rain. Funny how we have such short-term memories that we forget what running in warm weather feels like.

I plan to embrace tonight's run and enjoy this momentary respite from the messy cold white stuff. Sure, I was poetic last time and talked about how it was all icing sugar heavy on trees. But after weeks of frigid, tush-freezing cold, nothing beats a run in zero to 15 degree weather (although I'm also partial to running in the rain...but more on that some other time).

Since Sunday was Day-Before-Valentine's-Day and Monday was Valentine's Day, I opted to miss a few runs while spending time with hubby. Just picture us now -- holding hands, staring googly-eyed at each other, little pink and red hearts floating out of the tops of our heads as we enjoyed brunch at Chez Tess (Eggs Benedict Crepe and Croque Madame, yum!). And my legs blissfully folded under my chair, not whirling beneath me like a very slow Road Runner.

What I've come to realize is that I'm no Olympic athlete (don't worry, it didn't take me long to realize that -- I've never had illusions ofgrandeur when it came to my abilities as a speedy runner), so it's all about balance. Sometimes, it's ok to enjoy a brunch or Valentine's Day dinner with your hubby, significant other or friends.

That's  not to say that I've been potatoed on my sofa doing nothing. I've supplemented some run days with cross-training like Zumba (oh how I love to dance -- I did use to have illusions of becoming a famous dancer, but how famous can you be at five foot nothing?), step class, yoga and strength training. Ever since my first half marathon (where all I did was run -- back then it was just about getting in the runs and building up the strength in my legs), I've learned that cross-training is important to help you develop other muscle groups like your back and core, so that you're not just running around with massive runner thighs but feeble spaghetti arms.

As this article from explains, cross-training is also a great way to boost your cardiovascular fitness, because you're bumping your heart rate at different rates than when you're just running. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, so if you're always only ever doing the same thing, your body can get acclimatized to it. Mixing it up helps to keep your body alert and challenges you in different ways. Of course, all of that helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Finally, mixing it up also keeps you interested and motivated, so you don't get bored and quit altogether.

But on nights like this, when the sun is setting on the harbour and the mercury's hovering at around 2, I'm anxious to get into my running gear, lace on my shoes and get out there.

Signing out and lacing on my shoes now!

~ Ceebie

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