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Exercise Psychology Tip #11: How to Grin & Bear It In The Cold!

Posted Oct 18 2008 2:35pm

OK, I know, I know. How many posts can one person possibly write in one day?! Are you having trouble keeping up with the content that's been just spilling out of my head like one of those aerosol cans of Silly-String!

Right about now, I'm sure some of your minds have started to wander, having just floated over by free association to that great movie scene from Big! You know the scene I'm talking about. Don't deny it!!!!!! ;-)

OK, come back to me now. Eyes & brain front & center, please. Heheheheh. JUST kidding. Well, since I'm probably the Queen of Tangents from time to time, I will forgive you all for losing focus & thinking about other things. Heheheheheh. ONLY kidding.

But anyhow, let's just get down to tonight's ten thousandth subject of the evening ;-), running in the cold.

It's 5 Degrees at 5 PM, & the sun is rapidly setting. Do you know where your warmest winter parka is?! Or are you just thinking about packing it in tonight, laying back on the sofa after a hard day's work, & flipping on the TV. Tomorrow's another day, you think, & I'll just wait until it's warmer outside before I run.

Are you an all-weather runner, up for anything, or do you prefer to take your running like you take your tea -- preferably not too strong, & with a few dollops of "sugar"? ;-) After all, a little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down, as the Mary Poppins tune goes......

Which one of these "running personalities" describes you? Be honest.

Why do some of us run in the cold while others of us just chicken out?

Hw do some of us manage to do it? Are we nuts? Do we need our heads examined? Or are those other people the wimpy ones who just "can't hack it." Hahahahaha.

And is it possible for a person to change from one type to the other?

As for the second question, I already know the answer. Not only do I believe it's possible, but I am living proof that it IS possible to change from one type to the other. Believe it or not, I have experience being on both sides of that fence.

Yes, I'm ashamed to say it, I was I once in the "chicken" category myself. When I wasn't as into running as I am now, I would start out running outdoors, but once it got below 32 degrees, you'd most likely find my derrière indoors (whether or not it was approaching a treadmill!) in a matter of minutes. But no more.

What happened? Has my brain been invaded by aliens & replaced with a little tiny green man that controls the levers of my conscience?

Well, I guess you could say that I crossed into The Other Side. Maybe some of you are nodding your heads right now, because you've had this epiphany at some point & can relate.

And others have probably misheard me, thinking that I'm actually referring to The Dark Side. ;-) Perhaps that dusty old switch controlling the "Metaphors" division of the brain, right next to the "Analogies" library, has suddenly flipped on but somehow gotten its wires crossed. This sometimes happens to me, but it's usually because my ears aren't tuning properly & are playing a game of telephone with my brain; the tinny sound from the echo is blotting out any sort of comprehension in there. This usually happens after an especially prolonged session of late-night blogging. Heheheheh.

But back to the Running Epiphany.

Yes, I become one of them. One of those crazy runners I thought I'd never become. I will run in the rain, run in the sleet, run in the snow, & while I haven't done so yet this year, will also probably run in 100 degree heat with 100% humidity.

So what the heck happened?

I guess you could say that I'm now a die-hard runner. I want to run so much that nothing is going to keep me from running.

Now, wait just a second, you might be thinking. Just a matter of minutes ago, in your very last post, you just wrote about going indoors for a treadmill run. Doesn't that make you a hypocrite?

OK, let me explain. I will push myself to the limit when it's just myself who's running, but when I schedule a second set of joints run with a person who's new to running, & they are just trying to establish a new routine & build running into their life, I will make concessions. After all, I'm doing these second set of runs (i.e., the CT5K runs) primarily for the benefit of my friend, who's a newbie runner. Of course, I'm also doing it because I enjoy her company & think spending time with her is a valuable activity, but the main point I'm trying to make is that, for these joint runs, I'm along for the ride as a supportive friend & cheering section. I really want to see her succeed in this program & enjoy running & the process of getting in shape, but hopefully she wants that ever more for herself than I want it for her. I will try my best to convince, to say things like, "well how about we go outside & see how it is first, before deciding to pack it in & head indoors?" But there's a limit to what I will do, & how far I will push when it comes to convincing another person to brave the elements. After all, they are ultimately in the driver's seat of their own destiny & their running schedule. I can be encouraging & supportive, & make all the effort I want to try to cheer them on & tell them it's going to be a good experience, but ultimately they need to be the motivating force behind their running. They have to want it bad enough for themselves. I can't be the fire in their engine; the fire has to come from within. Otherwise they'll just peter out.

If the truth be told & I had my way, & it was only me running tonight, I'd probably have run outdoors. Yes, in 16 degree weather. But shhhhh, don't let on to my friend that I said that. (Hahahaha, she's probably reading this entry right now & laughing her head off! ;-) )

Sure, through all of those layers of clothing, you might not be able to see my eyes or distinguish me from a Yeti, but sure enough, it'd be me out there, fighting it out in that insanely cold wind!

It comes down to this, "Do you have the mental toughness to withstand external conditions you can't control, like the weather or heaven forbid, some sudden change which affects your race performance -- whether it be the result of drinking too much or too little water on race day, or a "minor," unforeseen physical ailment -- like cramps, muscle spasms, or something else that "cramps" your running style, (pun intended)?

That's why I'm so curious about the marathon. I've been told that this race will show me my limits. And I want to see what I'm made of & if I can do it. In the back of my head, I am thinking that yes, I know I can do it. Because I'm tough. But I want to prove it to myself, through action, & not just conjecture or hypothesize about it.

If others respect me for it, that's great, but ultimately not what's motivating me to go for it. Likewise, I'm not doing it to silence the critics or naysayers. I'm doing it because I have to know the answer.

Of course, with my knees being an issue, the whole marathoning affair becomes an even bigger question. And yes, I've sometimes thought to myself, "Well, if my knees are bugging me now, at 5 & 6 miles, how the heck am I going to run an entire marathon?"

But I've already answered my own question: Smart & effective training. I'm going to take my training nice & slow, build up the muscles around my knees, take supplements for joint health, cross my fingers, & hope for the best.

There's a part of me that thinks that "It's now or never, baby!" And even more so now, as I don't know how long I'll be able to run on those little knobules called knees. Of course, I don't want to run my knees into the ground, but I still think that if the running program is gradual enough & I incorporate specific knee-strengthening workouts, that I can still do this.

Hopefully, I'm not completely deluding myself with my prospects, but since I'm the only one (other than a medical doctor) who can really gauge how these knees will hold up, I'd rather still attempt the training (& hopefully not tempt fate) by literally "making a run for it.

This coming year, I will find out what I'm made of, & I honestly, I just can't wait.

And some of us runners who've already run this distance can say that they already know our limits or whereas others like me, will very soon find them out!

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