Character Traits of the Successful Runner

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Cold and brutal weather brings about varying responses from many of us. In the northern parts of the United States, many people are very tolerant of this kind of weather and even enjoy it. Maybe it has to do with their having settled here by choice or their having acclimatized easy enough; whatever the reason, you will find arguments for and against running in the worst of winter and runners enough in support of layering, lacing up and braving the elements.

In my view, it says a lot about the character of one who is able to put aside discomfort, unpleasantness, disappointment, inconvenience – snow storm and minus temps anyone – and a lot of other obstacles that define the running life while continuing to steadfastly pursue a course of action that sure enough has its inherent dangers, but also holds the promise of sweet success. Such a runner, in my humble opinion, is above average and subscribes to a set of defining traits and/or qualities that places him or her far above the rest.
The successful runner must have:
  • Passion – a desire and drive for the Sport of running that inspires excitement and commitment for follow-through even when the going is rough.
  • Perseverance – the wherewithal to patiently stay the course: sticking to workout schedules and training plans to ensure the desired outcome.
  • Confidence – an innate belief in oneself and one’s ability and in one’s coach and/or training plan.
  • Determination/Tenacity – holding fast to one’s belief and running MO through a demonstrated willingness to overcome obstacles and hindrances seeing them only as temporary setbacks on the part to success.
  • Focus – the ability to keep one’s eye on the goal at all times.
  • Resilience – that unique ability to bounce back after disappointments keeping focus and form.

There’s nothing like winter weather to draw us out, in many cases sifting us only to find us wanting.. or human.. though often enough it will find those of us who embrace the challenge of winter weather, using it to vilify us and our dreams of being counted among those who belong to that exclusive club of successful runners.

Essential Wear for Winter Running

Source: runnersforum.com

Source: runnersforum.com

My last couple posts would have seen to getting you ready for this season’s running; since I figure I’m sorta responsible for your up and out, it’s all I can do to make sure you’re properly equipped to do so by getting you in gear. While it’s all well and good to have a well-thought-out training plan and the right attitude, if you lack the proper tools to execute your plan, it’ll all have been for nought. The concept of dressing for success does not only apply to the corporate person but really speaks to anyone who seeks to win at what he or she chooses to do. Hence why running in winter requires paying due attention to wearing the right apparel.

Coach Jenny Hadfield, writing for Active.com, insists that your winter wardrobe should include running jacket,hat, headband, gloves, tights and long-sleeve shirts. Duh right? But you may be surprised how thoughtless we can sometimes be. Accidents and illnesses happen in most cases without warning and before you know it all your well thought out plans could be shot to hell in a careless run; our goal is to make sure you stay wise, warm, healthy and safe as much as we can. A general rule of thumb is to dress 20 degrees warmer than it actually is as the body generates enough heat while running to ensure that if you’re adequately covered you will be just fine. Slightly cool is a good place to start. Just make sure to layer up using more or less layers as the temperature determines. Adding to the above, wearing the right fabric is very important to wick moisture away from your skin to keep your body as dry and warm as possible.

My experience has taught me that I’m one of those “always cold people” and so I’ve found that depending on how cold and/or windy it gets, I may alternate, drastically sometimes, between as much as four layers on top; a vest, a base ( technical shirt) layer, sometimes a fleece top (vest) and jacket and double layers of tights and pants to just double layers on top and a tights and shorts at other times.  Mittens or gloves or two depending, a headband and a hat is understood. Very rarely do I wear sunglasses but always sunscreen as I try to do as much of my winter training runs at the time of day with the highest sunlight to absorb whatever rare amount of vitamin D that’s available, as well as to minimize exposure to the cold.

Also, I’ve never been out running in minus anything and used to think that I’d surely die if I did but I don’t know, I’m a different person than I was even two years ago, more tolerant, more adventurous, more determined – maybe more of a badass – I like to think anyway, so who knows what the very near future might hold. Let’s just say I’m open this time around and in honor of that I’ve decided to purchase a balaclava – a mask that fits over the head, around the neck and over to mouth to protect against the cold – hell I’m sure it won’t even have to get that cold for me to don it, but regardless it’ll join my wardrobe of running must-haves. Another must-have, at least if you’re planning on going out whether ice, slush or snow, is proper shoes. I swear by trail running sneakers with as little mesh as possible for traction on the ice and to keep my feet dry along with wool socks that wicks away moisture but keeps them warm. Another option to provide stability are those removable traction devices like, Yak Trax, that you can easily place on and remove when you get off running.

I’m sure to the average runner this sounds like a lot of fuss while to the untrained eye it may even seem unnecessary but those who live anywhere there’s winter, and I’m not talking mild cold here, such folks can relate to why we would go to such lengths to protect ourselves from the elements. As to why we would go running in that kind of weather is another question altogether. I can venture a few guesses: we’re of the typical crazy-runner-type, the outfits are super cute? it’s fun if you really think about it? I think I’m running out of reasons and so now you have to go shopping – the best part!

How to Run things this Season

Source: active.com

Source: active.com

“I succeed on my own personal motivation, determination and commitment. My mindset is: if I’m not out there training, someone else is.” – Lynn Jennings

Thursday gone was not the typical running day; rather it was windy, cold and dank, with the promise of temperatures getting progressively colder within the next few weeks. This is not strange at all but merely the signs of Autumn falling behind and Winter fast approaching; which then begs the question, If this is what it looks and feels like now, what will we do when Winter gets here? Since this is no simple question, it follows that the answer is not simple at all but should be more of a determined, precise and focused response to a challenge faced by many runners who live in seasonal climates, particularly that of Winter. A double challenge exists for those of us who, not only dislike the cold, but have Spring races lined up and must thus spend our Winter months in training.

Between the holiday festivities and the cold weather, I’d wager that training for a marathon or any other endurance-type race in not high up there on anyone’s wish list, mine least of all. But I’ve figured for some time now that being a runner  means one rarely gets vacation or even have off days. We are more likely to get a rest day in-between training, but really if one is in this thing competitively – even competing with oneself – then it’s pretty much open season on running. The truth is, after a while, it becomes a way of life and is no more scheduled than eating is; however, if you’re in that place where it’s still a bit of a chore then of course around this time it becomes the proverbial millstone. And ouch, that’s darn heavy. But, lucky you and me, we are not alone. Running, while often done solo, is at base a community sport and so wherever you may find yourself this holiday season, I urge you to link up with the local running community. This may take the form of a running meet up, running group, running club, a couple running buddies or a friend – those willing to share their run, experience or just company with you – will make all the difference to your cold, wet and even icy runs.

The more structure you add to your training is the more likelihood you have of it being a success. All this means is that you should add a training plan to your schedule, holidays included. This plan should be a guide to keep you focused and engaged taking into account the necessary rest days and dutifully rewarding you for your hard work. It helps if you either do this with a group or person for motivation and accountability and stick to a regular schedule as much as possible. For sure, we can’t always be certain how things will pan out especially with the weather; snowstorms, road blockages, black ice, loss of power, any number of things could and may go wrong. While we can’t control any of these, we are certainly resourceful and determined and so it’s useful to add a plan B to your training schedule as well as to ensure maximum leverage of this training period. The gym: cross training, spin or cycling or a conditioning or aerobic class and/or the treadmill or indoor track are good just-in-case options, at-home: You Tube workout video, jump rope, Pilates, yoga or even just hooking up with a friend for a jog around the block, park or a local school track if it’s crazy out.

You will find that, as it becomes more routine than novelty, those runs will inspire more challenge and greater effort. Aside from the bonus of staying fit and looking fabulous through Christmas and into the New Year, there will be no guilty pleasures, for everything you eat is well deserved and thus tastes twice as good. You may even find that you’re actually looking forward to getting out, nothing like the fresh, cold air and a training run to work up an appetite and leave you invigorated and ready to run the world.

Motivational Quotes for Winter Running

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It’s cold. You’re tired, It’s been a late night. Everyone’s inside having fun. You’re just not feeling it; the desire to lace up those running shoes and step out is nonexistent. You know you should, but really the thought of a snuggle is so much more inviting right now. What to do? How do you motivate yourself past that.. past a few more minutes of sleep, past the delicious tasting Apple Pie, that second helping of turkey or even your favorite Home Alone movie or worst, past the family and friends gaming and wining and dining to embrace the seclusion and quiet of a beautiful frosty day?

I so feel you! And because I do, I did some digging around and put together some of the funner ( my word), heartfelt, inspiring, kick-butt sayings/ quotes to help you remain fit, keep you focused, always smiling, and running this winter. Here goes…

1. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. –Amelia Earhart

2. I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. –Stephen Covey

3. Either you run the day, or the day runs you. –Jim Rohn

4. Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. –Joshua J. Marine

5. The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself–the invisible battles inside all of us–that’s where it’s at.
-Jesse Owens

6. I do it because I can, I can because I want to, I want to because you said I couldn’t. -Unknown

7. Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. -Henry Ford

8. You don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for.
-Thumbpress.com

9. Think you won’t make a difference with one run, you won’t make a difference doing nothing.
-Thumbpress.com

10. If you run 100 miles a week, you can eat anything you want – Why? Because…
(a) you’ll burn all the calories you consume, (b) you deserve it, and (c) you’ll be injured soon and back on a restricted diet anyway. –Don Kardong

11. Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic. –Tim Noakes

12. You also need to look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will…those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t get to the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted. –Joe Henderson

13. Today I will do what others won’t, So tomorrow I can do what others can’t. –Unknown

14. The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you.
–Unknown

15. Everything is funner with a runner because we can go long and hard, short and fast, and we even get pretty dirty sometimes (for mud races of course). Endurance is key, although everyone can appreciate a quickie, aka sprinter.
-Unknown

16. It starts about the time I walk out my front door. I reach the woods, smell the river and I just feel myself come to life again. It’s like yeah, I’m back.
-Unknown

17. I’m a drinker with a running problem. -Unknown

18. Mind is everything: muscle–pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind. -Paavo Nurmi

19. I run so my goals in life will continue to get bigger instead of my belly. -Bill Kirby

20. Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run! —P. Mark Taylor

I know! Pretty cool right? Thank me later.

Quick Disclaimer.. so not my words, wish they were but nope, some attributed to their owners others unknown.

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.

Yikes It’s Winter!

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Summer bodies are earned in winter!

You take a Caribbean gal accustomed to tropical and warm temperatures and you place her in average 25 degrees Fahrenheit weather and what you get is me, cold and cranky as heck.  These are the days you just wanna curl up..fetal position preferably, with your favorite book and blanket; christmas music playing softly in the background and a steaming cup of hot chocolate peppered with marshmallows and/or Jim Bean.  Yep, winter is just about here with its oh-so-short days and cold and wintry nights.  So how do I beat this – it’s too cold to run – truth be told, there is no easy way.  These are the days we’re gonna have to dig deep down and find the inspiration that has brought us thus far.

That being said, there are some external things that can inspire that move from fetal position to running form.  For nature lovers, like myself, a lot can be said for experiencing the changing seasons first hand; your winter runs are much more quiet, there is less traffic in the parks and on various running routes as others seek warmer alternatives, and who doesn’t enjoy some extra quiet and the chance to run without sidestepping strollers.  Also, sweat becomes a thing of the past; you can actually run without breaking one, well at least not the wet, drenched-looking kind, just remember to drink a lot.  Layered and mittened up, you’re on a determined path to success and nothing beats the feeling of super-accomplishment post running; you’ve braved the cold with determination and tenacity – nothing says you’re a badass quite like that.  And of course you can always rely on the calorie factor to get you out the door.  You want to deserve the extra treats you give yourself and since we know that nothing in life is free, that extra piece of pumpkin pie means extra calories to burn.  Additionally, running in cold weather, causes you to exert more energy and effort and you’re likely to burn more calories on your average run.

Of course, now is a good time to get some cross training in and sign up at a gym so you have some variety to spice up your workouts.  While it isn’t the average Joe that decides to run in winter wonderland, anyone who has a serious desire to stay healthy will see winter as a challenge and either embrace it or look for ways around and through it.

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