Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cool Runnings

This past week my running has been great. I think the main factor is the weather. When I get out in the mornings, it's nice and cool. In fact, I've had to bring out the winter running gear! The mercury has been at or around the freezing mark in the mornings. There's something about running in the cold that's invigorating.  One of my oldest friends would tell me that I'm a masochist for running in the cold. But as the title of a Chris Rea song goes, "I don't know what it is, but I love it."

I remember my first "cold weather" run back in 1990. My husband was working in England and I joined him. On one of my first days there I set out for a run. Being from San Diego at the time, England felt so cold and damp! In San Diego I would wear tights and long sleeves when it was between 10 and 15 C (50 to 59 F), just like all of the others in my running group. That January morning in England it was about 6 C (43 F) and I piled on the layers. I had (from the bottom up): tights (with stirrups no less!) with sweatpants over them, a t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, lightweight jacket, gloves, and a hat. Partway through my run I stripped off most of the layers and ended up carrying a lot of clothing back to the guesthouse where I was staying. I quickly learned that "less is more" when it comes to cold-weather running.  A couple of good high-tech layers are much better than lots of layers of cotton in cold weather.

Now when the mercury starts to drop toward the freezing mark, I wear tights, a long-sleeved technical shirt, and a fleece overshirt. I only wear my jacket when it's below freezing. I'll start off with lightweight glove liners, but will usually end up taking them off. The same with a hat. When it gets to about -10 C (14 F) I'll wear Gore-Tex pants over lighter weight tights and bring out the fleece gloves. I  feel a bit like a female version of the Michelin Man when I run on cold fall and winter mornings.

Another reason why I'm running so well now is that my hamstring issues are gone. Once in a while I'll feel something in the butt crease/top of the hamstring. But for the most part I have been running pain-free, even with increased speed. It feels so good to be injury-free! I have had the hamstring problems for over a year and it feels great to be rid of them, or at least 98% rid of them.

Since I got back from the States in September I have also been getting back to my Pilates and weight lifting routines to strengthen my core and arms. OK, I'm not really lifting weights; I'm using resistance bands. But the effect is the same as weight lifting. I can tell that I'm getting stronger because I can do more of the Pilates exercises, arm exercises, and push-ups than I did before. After every run I massage my legs with my Stick, which helps them to recover faster. We older runners need all of the tricks we can find for faster recovery!

 Once winter sets in with the ice and snow, I'll have to slow down in order to keep from breaking something. But until then, I'll enjoy the fall mornings and speedy "cool runnings."

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