It’s no secret to those around me that a very long and cold winter this year has left me kinda really wanting to push myself as the warmer weather arrives as going long was really not in the cards this past winter, at least not in an enjoyable way.
So of course now that we are in the wonderful month of May I have been pushing up my milage to both train for races to come but also so I can get out and enjoy some of the longer and more obscure trails and paths that I love to run on.
Of course as nature would have it the 22C of the week had faded away to to a balmy 6C that included periods of wind gusts, overcast, snow, sleet, rain and good old hail. This was a bit discouraging at first of course as I sat warm on my couch looking out the window as the weather of the late fall seemed to roll by outside.
So how did I get myself out the door, I decided that it would not be worth the cold and suffering to go for a quick run around the neighborhood as the weather was nasty, nor did I want to to do speed work with the wind and hail.
So my solution to the problem was to do a trail run geared up like I was running an self supported trail race with the goal of going out far on no fixed time or distance goal. I suited up in rainproof Patagonia shell jacket (that the folks at Cliff Bar had sent me), opened up all it’s vents to stay comfortable, put up the hood, filled up my 3L North Face Animas trail pack with water, bars and Energy Bits and was off.
I made my way through the first half of the run via Taylor Creek running on the trail and single track off and on to warm up my legs and all the little muscles that get neglected when I just pound around on the roads. I followed the path into the Don Valley trail (one of my favorites in the city of Toronto) and wound my way through the cold windy open areas and the always fun almost canopy like areas that are dense with vegetation and trees wrapping around the trail this time of year just starting to bud.
This run was one of the good ones despite or perhaps because of the sound of hail pecking at my hood, face and legs at times as I seem to have an odd sensibility for enjoying extreme weather conditions of my long runs. I find the worse the weather the more it allows me to day dream of the excitement that those must feel challenging the elements while completing self supported trail races and ultra marathons and I train to join their ranks one day.
Finally exiting the Don I decided to avoid the busy ho hum of main surface streets to make my way home and decided to weave up and down the hilly side streets that are sandwiched between Danforth Ave and Gerrard on the east side headed from the Don to Victoria Park. This made for some fun urban exploration finding short cuts through alleys, parks, school yards and a few areas where some random single track showed me the way thorough what I hope was not private property.
When it was all said and done I was pushing back in on home as I checked my phone for my distance and I was at 20k. So of course coming this close to a half marathon and having not gone this far yet in 2013 I felt I had no choice but to zig zag up an down the final blocks on the way home to make up the distance I would need to finish out my own personal half, and I did at just a little over at 21.3 KM.
These are the runs I love. These are the runs with no coaching plan, no time goals, perhaps not the perfect conditions as a running mag would show them, but they are effortless, enjoyable and experiences compared to the ho hum of doing the same thing in a gym or on a track.
The best part of the run, realizing today that my fitness despite the rough winter and shorter milage is on track having not felt any ill effects of this unplanned half marathon and reenforcing that my healthy eating plan including more plants and plant based sources of protein both on and off the run seems to be greatly aiding in building my milage and speeding recovery time.
So I leave you on this note, those days where it may not look like the best day to go for a run, don’t. Instead suit up and go on an adventure. Dress not for the ideal, dress more something between a hike and run, bring food, water and bag to put hold a layer or two you may put on or take off a layer while your out and reframe your mindset as to what your setting out to do.
The only difference between a “cold crappy run” or a day that is “to crappy to run at all” and a amazing experience that you can not get sitting on the couch or plodding along on a treadmill is how you perceive it. If you can realize this, you will find there are a lot more great running days and many more adventures for you to have.