What’s Running In December

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Socks4Life.com

Why, Hello December! The month of sugar and spice and everything nice – we’re hoping anyway and praying as far as running is concerned. I figure we’re in good stead this being the month we celebrate Jesus’ birth and all, plus the weather has been pretty decent so far. Hope is alive and the runner in me celebrates this with a happy run and a slight adjustment to end of year goals.

Truly, I’m not making this up on the fly nor do I believe I’m alone in my mid-goal pivot. I have always believed that it is the person who is able to grasp opportunities as they are presented that is more often than not successful in his/her endeavors. Of course it’s always a bit risky to veer off a predetermined path but you’ll never discover your strengths or true potential if you never challenge yourself to discover the badass within. And the truth is, we all have that person in us. It may take different things to incite us to action, but that’s only because we’re all uniquely different and does not speak to any timidity or lack of initiative in us. I firmly believe that runners are by far an enterprising lot. Consider the  tenacity it takes to train for a race and the sometimes brutal conditions we must endure only to fall short on race day. Our response, usually, is to right away sign up for the next race with as little fanfare as possible – tenacity is only outdone by the determination to minimize the achievement. So I’m in awesome company I know.

To this end, I had no problem on deciding  to push up my decision to qualify for the TCS NYC Marathon 2017 this month. With not a lot of options left in terms of races to choose from, limited time left to qualify and with the weather at its uncertain best, it will take a lot of faith and some crazy running to pull this off. I think I’m up for the challenge though. Since I’ve opted to go the half-marathon entry route, it’s crunch time with training and racing happening all in the next couple weeks.

The rest of the month will find me keeping my Wednesday group runs, doing speed work twice a week in Central Park, weather permitting, and getting a long run in on the weekend. I usually add some cross-training somewhere in there to mix things up a bit. So far, so good; while I’m optimistic we’ll close off the year in good spirits, so much depends on the weather. Hopefully, my optimism is contagious and that will only bring good running.🙏

I Confess 2 weeks of Marathon Training

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I’ve been a bad girl. I mean like really taking-for-granted-my-ability bad. I’m running the New Jersey marathon on 4/26 and I’m nowhere near the peak of my training as I should be as I have yet to complete a long run. That’s not to say I haven’t tried, on two occasions I attempted to do just that and fell short because of 1. The weather and 2. The time. Sounds like I’m full of excuses right?

For me, this weather has been a nightmare for training. I am so over the treadmill when it comes to running long distances, this has been a major setback to my training. While I was training for the NYC half marathon, it was all well and good since ten miles is the maximum I can handle on there, and that was for two long cold months, now, I pray daily just for average temperatures so I can head out. So far, not so good. It’s not every person can work a 10-hour day then train for two hours; It takes a lot of self-motivation, determination and sacrifice. Toss the weather we’ve been having in there and it becomes the ultimate challenge to which I have not responded in the best way.

At this point I am quite the realist, it is what it is. Sometime in the next couple days, I plan on doing a long run even if it hails, afterall, it’s down-to-the-wire-time and there is just no more time for excuses. Ironically, that should have been my attitude from the onset, but I confess, even I am not perfect.

This week my focus has been on adding milage and strength and interval training with emphasis on hill repeats. So far, so good. I’m certainly glad there are a couple weeks left before the race as I feel there is so much left to be done as far as diet, hydration and cross training, in addition to running.

One thing I’m very thankful for is being injury-free up till now. I pray to remain that way and focus on the simple things that will make a big difference on race day, such as: resting/sleeping well, eating well, hydrating, and adding a little umph with a creatine supplement while varying my workouts to include some cross training. While it sounds like a lot to do in so little time, I’m onstream – somewhat anyway – resting well presents the biggest challenge as I keep such crazy hours. But hey, I’m still thinking Boston qualifier.. OI’m either crazy or extremely confident.

Stay Healthy, Warm & Running as Winter Approaches

runningwinterHonestly,  this is my worst weather for running. Those who know me, know that I’m a summer baby. Born and bred in the Caribbean, I have a very low tolerance for cold weather while the heat doesn’t bother me one bit. I could live a thousand years of Summer just to not have to deal with winter but wishful thinking does not Summer make, so being the realist that I am (not), each year that I’ve lived here, I have had to dig deep down inside and find my New Yorker determination and fortitude; there is such a thing. See, living in New York has been good for me, I’ve become a more of a roll-with-the-punches sorta gal who believes that running will fix most if not everything. Survival can do that to you. Pardon the expression, but this concrete jungle out here leaves very little room for the timid and hesitant; my experience has taught me the value of dealing with things in a practical and straight forward way, especially when there is no way around it. You gotta love this place; it’s a pull-yourself-up-by-booth-straps kinda city and winter presents the perfect opportunity to do so.

My first experience of snow in this country was a beautiful thing, then I came to New York. See, before I arrived in the peachy state of Georgia, it hadn’t snowed there for eight years. Those beautiful southern folks hadn’t a clue how to deal with even a dusting and so their response was to shut down the town, city, state, everything, which suited everyone just fine. Holiday anyone? So, the most beautiful sight I had ever seen was the fairy-dust of snow that was just enough for playing in: snow fights, not-too-much-of-a-snowman, rolling around, picture-posing.. It was a ton of fun. One day of snow and then it was all gone, nary a thought to it affecting running. Christmas 2007 altered all that; a snowstorm hailed my arrival in the big apple that shut down the city airports, grounded flights and left people stranded in the airports along the north-west for a few days. That snow was to stay on the ground for weeks; commuters nightmare realized and the end of my romance with the white monster called winter. Not that I minded snow in the least, it really does paint a pretty picture and then there are the sporting uses it’s good for, but really it’s the effects and affects of the season: the blinding cold, the discomfort of piling on layers, the inconvenience of using the bathroom as a result, the inability to be warm no matter how many layers, and of course the limit it places on my running adventures – who really enjoys running with layers of clothes, frozen cheeks, breath, fingers, toes and not being able to sweat..that’s how you gauge how hard you’ve worked, by the sweat of your brow..that sort of thing, and of course who feels like guzzling down water and other liquids to keep hydrated when you really don’t want to be visiting the bathroom as it takes twice the time it typically does. Plus, I am one who wants nothing that even resembles cold to drink. So there you have my dilemma, which has only slightly diminished in its intensity since my advent into cold weather.

I try to have more of a positive outlook and think in terms of winter wonderland these days. Acclimation to cold weather not being my thing, I’m still always cold but I complain less – hasn’t helped since so what’s the use – to my way of thinking. But mainly what has helped with my attitude change is my ability to run around it. I learnt pretty fast the tricks to staying sane during the winter months and this among others may be the reason I like to say I’m a new yorker. Here are some of my tips to not only survive but to thrive while running in winter wonderland.

The Run is truly for those who endure:
. Winter is the perfect season for the gym. I can vary my days depending on the weather between gym workouts and running outside.
. The treadmill is not my enemy and can actually be put to good use on those bad weather days when I’m training.
. Wearing the proper cold running gear is paramount to staying well and fit. Breathable material allows pores to absorb and let out air and perspiration.
. It is essential to properly cover up ones’ extremities such as hands, feet, face and ears.
. It’s absolutely necessary to hydrate when exercising and running outside as you are less likely to feel thirsty because of the cold air thus leading to dehydration.
. A winter or late fall race is ideal to keep the running momentum going. It keeps you focused, training and gainfully exercised.
. Winter is already cold and can be quite isolating as lots of runners travel, hibernate, whatever… You want to make sure you stick to your running group or find one and/ or a partner to help you through your cold sessions.
. I find it extremely fool-hardy to run on black ice, the one you can barely see but can have you slipping and sliding. Living to run another day is way more important.
. Running around noon is usually the best time to run..You get to maximize your vitamin D intake which sometimes can be extremely low during the cold season and it’s as warm and enjoyable as it will ever be.

During winter months, I find that I run harder to get the results I want; this could be because the air is colder and sharper, which lends itself to a slightly more strenuous breathing pattern for me, as well as it could be that I run harder because I feel I don’t achieve as much due to my sweat level which is almost non-existent. And let me tell you, I sweat..like clothes-soaking, body-dripping sweat so it feels strange in the winter not to do so even while I understand that the cold air dries it up before it even sets on one’s skin. In any event, if you’re half-way determined as I am and you’re getting ready to amble out, be sure to stock up on winter running gear and talk and listen to your body to put yourself in a winter running frame of mind. You may be surprised by what you learn.

Running In Sochi

The Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics is on! And it’s buzzing. From Track Speed Skating to Moguls and Freestyle Skiing and any and everywhere in between, the games provide something for everyone. Spanning some 90 years with its first official game in 1924, its been hosted more or less every four years like its summer counterpart, and have graduated from its early history of Scandinavian domination, its predecessor The Nordic Games, to include countries as far north as Canada and as far south as New Zealand and Australia. It also includes countries from South America and the Caribbean.

imageThis year the games of The XXII Olympiad boast a field of events that tests athletes endurance, skill, precision and speed on the ice.  To my way of thinking, many of these “snow/ice sports” share something in common with running, the big difference being  that they’re performed on ice. Take the Biathlon, Speed Skating, Short Track and Cross-Country, these are all sports with a running component with the adage of skates and skis as it would be impossible to run on ice without them. I recently watched a video of learning to cross-country ski and it was telling to see how one literally has to learn to run (diagonal stride) with skis on, only adding poles as you become more proficient. Since running is all about speed and endurance, I relate on a less icy level.

However, my favorite to watch at the Winter Games has always been Figure Skating. This year Russia’s own 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, the youngest recipient of a gold medal for Team Russia, is a treat to watch.  Yulia LipnitskayIn the women short program on Monday, she put on one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen in figure skating and could well be the star of the show. I suspect an upset is imminent as former predictions for the popular Women’s Figure Skating event did not include her among USA, Japan, South Korea and Italy favorites. It’s the event to watch Feb 19 & 20.

What is super cool is that these games show us that while winter could be cold, harsh and unsettling to a lot of us, we’d do better to accept it for what it is, and what it brings and too, for all the sporty running things we can get up to.  If over 2000 athletes can do it then so can we. Winter Olympics 2014, we ❤️ you!

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