Make It Work

Today is February 4, 2011, and Dallasites have officially been shut in for four long days. We awoke Tuesday morning to a thick sheet of ice covering the city. It’s been gloomy and well below freezing ever since, which means the ice has only become more solid. Just when things seemed like they might improve, on Friday morning, we awoke to 5 or 6 inches of snow on top of the ice. Talk about a disaster waiting to happen!

As a kid, snow days are the coolest thing since sliced bread. No school. No work for mom and dad. And lots of time to make snow angels and snowmen.

As a runner, snow days are terrifying. All I’ve heard since Tuesday is panic about how we are supposed to train in this weather. Running in the cold is one thing — as long as you know what to wear, you’re in good shape. Running on ice, however, simply isn’t an option — assuming you want to make it to race day without injury.

On Icemaggedon Day 1, I was OK. I really missed my group run, but in an “I missed my friends and my ‘me’ time” way, as opposed to an “Oh crap, I can’t get behind on my mileage” way. (As a sidenote, this was a very good thing for me because it means that I’m in a healthy place mentally with my training this season.)

On Icemaggedon Day 2, I was over it. Seeing sub-freezing temps in the forecast for the remainder of the week, it was becoming very clear that my usual runs weren’t going to happen. Brad was equally unnerved about missing the mileage. The Boston Marathon was 76 days away — ready or not! So, we sought out a way to make it work.

Step 1 :: Figure out what to wear.

We both opted for two pair of tights, two shirts (one thermal and one wind-breaker), ear warmers, a head cover, thick gloves, and ankle-length socks. (I speak from experience here: Do not try wearing two of pair of socks.) You could also add hand warmers depending on how cold it is.

Step 2 :: Find a location.

We drove to nearby Katy Trail and confirmed that it was too slick. Then, we drove to every high school track we could find, thinking surely they would at least have a clear path. No luck. On the drive home, we started to notice several large parking garages and thought, “Why not?!?” They are dry, block the wind, and big enough to function as a pseudo-track. We picked the biggest one we could find, drove the lowest level with the least traffic and with security back-up (for added safety), and hit the pavement. 24 loops later, my scheduled 8-mile workout was done! And, we went back the next day to do the same. Smart or stubborn? Who knows, but we at least got in most of our miles this week!

Just like you have to make time to train, you also have to be flexible.

1.  Be willing to vary your run time. If you know a storm is coming in the morning, get in your run the night before. Run on your lunch break. If you can adjust your work hours, get in early so that you can run in the afternoon.

2.  Hit the treadmill. You are guaranteed to stay warm and dry. You can watch a little TV while you’re at it. And, I hear they’re great for building mental tenacity.

3.  Get creative on locations. Find a local track, find a parking garage, find a big store, find something that you can make work. This will probably get me in trouble, but I find it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission here. I was on the verge of seeing how many laps I could run in the local Home Depot before being stopped. Fortunately, the security guards and police officers stationed in the parking garage didn’t say a word. I’ll never know whether they thought we were nuts and took pity on us, whether they admired our dedication, or whether they just didn’t care. All that matters is that we got in our runs!

4.  Find a buddy to keep you motivated. I can say without absolute certainty that these runs would not have happened if Brad and I hadn’t kept each other motivated. I owe him a huge thanks for getting my cold-hating butt out the door and making the laps go by so fast!

Lesson Learned :: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You just have to make it work.

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