My January Thaw.

It’s a not so aptly named blog post title, I know. In fact, we are deep in the thick of winter. The temperatures haven’t even gotten close to zero the past 5 days. We aren’t even close to any type of thaw, but for me personally, it is has been just that. I’m thawing out. I’m learning to cut loose a little bit. I’m trying not to be so anal about my running.

My intentions haven’t been solid. In fact they’ve been a bit slushy. Much like a January thaw. Coming to grips with the fact that I am struggling with an injury of sorts has been a reality I have to face. This is the month for me to tackle it. Getting to run outside is a near impossibility. In previous years, I laughed in the face of winter. I’d layer up, put on the heated gloves. and get the heck out there. I barely gave it a second thought. I look back though my Facebook posts, and there I was…10 degrees, 0 degrees, -10 degrees. It had little affect on me.

Either I’m getting wimpier, or I’m getting wiser. But what difference does it make? Right now, I’m running better on the treadmill. I can do more specific training sessions, and I don’t have to bundle up. Sure, our basement is cold as heck, but after 15 or 20 minutes, I’m shedding the sweatshirt. And after an hour, I’m sweating like the proverbial pig.

I’m not even quite sure why I’m running better indoors. It could be because I’m running much slower than I typically do. It could be because I’m wearing my Vibrams since I’m inside. It could be because most of my runs have been at a 0-1 degree incline. Or maybe it is because it isn’t bitterly cold. Maybe the pavement actually IS harder in the winter time. Maybe I really AM allergic to winter. Nothing would surprise me at this point. But what I have realized is that I shouldn’t mess with it. If it is working, why try to fix it?

I’m not training for anything big right now. My next attempt at a marathon isn’t until May. Sure, I’ll sign up for a few halfs between now and then, but for the past few years, a half requires little training on my part.

January, as it turns out, is a great time for me to concentrate on a few different aspects of my training. I can do some interval work, I can do some hill work. I can do some very easy runs, too. I can do it all, and not have to worry about the weather.

As you already know, I’m a nerd when it comes to self-educating myself about heath, fitness and nutrition. My favorite podcaster of all time, Ben Greenfield, talks a lot about how to improve speed and stamina without having to run fast or hard. In fact, the protocol is to walk. Yeah, walk…on a steep incline, with a few added pounds on your back. Seems way to primitive, right? I mean, can that really work?


It seems it can, and it does. It is based on the simple premise that walking on a steep incline can get your heart rate up just as much or more than a slow run and there is less impact and eccentric load. It is a great way to strengthen the gluteals, hamstrings and calf muscles. In fact, hill walking is best incorporated during transition phases and early base training. I’ve also put P90X Legs and Back back into my schedule. Strengthening those larger leg muscles can only help in reducing the stress to the calves and Achilles.

So, I’ve added the incline walk into my training schedule three days a week. In fact, after each P90X workout (on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), it is the perfect way to add some cardio without completely wearing myself out with running. This month, I’ve been concentrating on running just 3 days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday). One of those days I bump up the intensity just a little bit with some interval work, or a tempo run. Saturdays have been work days.

I’ve also been better with my therapy work. This includes some epsom salt soaks, alternating with warm and cold water, foam rolling, self massage, and eccentric exercises. All in all, I can visualize a little bit of improvement.

I have no runs scheduled for this month. As much as I’d love to do the Securian Half Marathon at the end of January, the remaining Saturdays are booked with events for Charmed Running. This is far more important than spending money on runs that probably wouldn’t boost my performance, anyway. I may as well take this month to heal and regenerate.

This is what I keep telling myself.

I do have a few new products that I’m trying out as well. Some help with sleep, some help with performance, and some help with recovery. Look for those blog posts to come in the not too distant future.

The first week of 2017 is already history. 51 remain. Much can still be accomplished. I guess it is too early to throw in the towel, right?

There might be something pretty decent blooming under the snow.



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