For years now, in sake of mental health and general running obsessiveness, I've always maintained year round long run training. For the last several years, I ran Run for Regis 50k as my winter pinnacle ultra. I've decided not to do it this year for a number of reasons: Foremost, my Raynaud's disease in my hands and feet is very difficult to manage in the winter and I fear it gets worse when I expose them to too many freezing thawing cycles as I'd get running a 50k. Take a moment and note what so many freezing/thawing cycles reeks upon our Ohio highways and byways and you have a fair estimation of what happens, on a cellular level, to my hands and feet when subjected to prolonged freezing/thaw cycles of hands gone dead. Defeated by my disease? Absolutely not. I'll keep running, but under conditions where I know I can manage my stupid hands and feet. I'll run when I can.
I still run regularly with Bob, Bill, and Joan for the 5am runs out near Bob's place, except once, a few weeks ago, Bob canceled, last minute, our run for a little bit of warm wind and rain. A last minute canceling text almost crushed my notion of Bob as a stalwart running all weather cowboy. Bob never cancels a run. For rain? I did pilates alone in my living room and downloaded Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone". Bob redeemed himself, however, the following week by showing up at 5am on the windswept streets of our alternative winter running site, "Silver Lake," since it's the only place that plows our recent blasts of winter fury and where we won't get swept off the road by a snow plow. It's a big pain in the ass driving out there at 4:30 in the morning, but I love how I feel afterward and gets me through the next 8 hours at the work cave.
I figure if I keep up my Tuesday, Thursday midweek runs with Bob and whoever else shows up, and do at least a 10 mile long run on the weekends, I'll have a good winter maintenance plan that will keep the running endorphins banked up in my brain so I don't get depressed. I'll have a decent base, then, to swing right back into marathon training mode in the spring. My first marathon scheduled for the spring is the Flying Pig in early May. For the last several weeks then I've done just 8-10 miles long runs and I'm noticing some distinct pits and peaks to my new diet of moderate long runs. First, since I'm trying to be a more confident, positive person--the peaks: I don't eat as darned much which is a good thing. It's embarrassing all the caches of foot I hide in the work cave to get me through the day. Matter of fact, for the first time ever--I skipped dinner once this week. Well...I had a handful of gingersnaps, which probably isn't really healthy, but it was nice not being a slave stoking the furnace of my high mileage runner metabolism.
Second, I have more time! I'm done with my long run by 10 am which leaves time for leisurely baths and mugs of hot chocolate before getting into my weekend domestics. I have more time and energy to devote to other non-running pursuits, which I'll discuss more in depth later. The pits to downgraded training includes the obvious decrease in fitness--a 10 mile run kicks my ass now just like a 20 mile run. Also, I'm a little disconcerted in my plumbing as I just don't poop with the same finesse and efficiency as when I was doing monster long runs every weekend. Sigh.. But all in all, I think it's a good plan to get through our awful Ohio winters. Running is my medicine and for the time being, I'm taking a sensible maintenance dose.