Top three: outdoor winter cross training

It’s a beautiful day.

Blue sky, crazy warm temperatures, and here I am on a Saturday morning… in bed.  Still battling a cold.

I’ve been eating healthy food, drinking loads of fluids, sleeping like crazy, even took two days off work this week. The doctor claims my lungs are clear and I’m “fine” but it’s just that my body is fighting back hard, leaving me tired and sniffly. BOOOOOO on that!  I’m dying to get outside again.

Last weekend, I managed to squeeze in a whole whack of amazing winter activities.  Cross training at it’s finest.  Don’t let winter get you down – go outside and play!  This gives the bod the opportunity to use a few other muscles or parts you never knew you had.

Fat tire biking
It’s winter, only the crazies ride their bikes in the ice and snow, right? Well, I rented some fat tire bikes for me and Jim to try out, and boy –  felt like a kid all over again!  Those big fat tires make for a grippy but smooth ride whether on pavement or pathways. We hit the trails around Lac Beauvert in Jasper and had a blast zipping along the snowy pathways through the trees.  And bonus – you can burn up to 1,500 calories an hour on those suckers!  The only drawback – having not been on a bike in forever – was that my butt was totally busted after that ride due to the hard seat. Dude. Three days of aftermath for that one.

Snowshoeing
Since the purchase of my trekking/backcountry snowshoes about two years ago I’ve loved getting out both in the mountains and in Edmonton’s River Valley to explore and soak up some sunshine. This time, I tried out “fitness” snowshoes.  Streamlined, short and light, these snowshoes are ideal for walking and running.  I signed us up for a snowshoe race!  We trotted a couple of times but mostly just walked the 5K loop, stopping to snap photos and drink hot chocolate at the halfway point.  Depending on weight and terrain, you can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour snowshoeing (score!) and those hip flexors get quite the workout.

Cross country skiing
Cross country skiingDriving out to the Blackfoot Cooking Lake area for some late Sunday afternoon skiing, I should’ve known better.  I meant to just do a couple of loops on the lake near the staging area and then drive home, but the lure of the trails beckoned and soon enough I was gliding along through the trees. So fun!  Of course, being directionally challenged, by the time I checked the map I was waaaayyyy far away from the staging area, and the sun was beginning to set. While the average person burns about 500 calories an hour, I’m sure I was up at 700 just due to minor panic.  Sun setting. Coyotes howling. Wiping out on the icy trail hills where the track setting had long since been demolished by skiiers climbing up the other side.  I lived to tell the tale, and can’t wait to get back on my ratty old skis.

Which is why I have a cross country ski date this afternoon at 1:00 pm with Miz R.  And why I’m going to lounge in bed, resting some more, until that time.  Eeeeee!  Love winter!!

What’s your favourite winter cross training activity?  (And yes, cheese fondue is a correct answer…)

 

 

 

 

Race recap – Resolution Run 2016

Knowing that I already registered for a minefield of challenging races in 2016, I figured the Resolution Run was a good way to start the year off right. Set the tone for a year of running.

Otherwise, Netflix and I would be having a January 1st date that would last all day. In bed.  Nothing super great comes from that annoying message in the midst of an amazing binge: Are You Still Watching?  Um, yes, Netflix – this is my life right now. Thanks for the shaming.

I’m just wrapping up week 3 of my 19-week half-marathon training program, so I expected to run today’s 5K at my training pace, which is about 14:38 per mile, plus additional time for walk breaks. Yes…walk breaks.

The training program I’m following was designed by Jeff Galloway, who stands behind the theory that taking on a run/walk strategy right from the very beginning of a run will ultimately allow you to recover quickly, build endurance and finish strong.  It’s difficult for me to grasp the concept of walking almost right out of the gate, and the ego certainly pushes back as well (WTF? Why you walkin’, sistah?? #lame).

It makes sense, though.  When I went in (totally lazy, totally untrained) to the SeaWheeze half marathon in August, I did just that: pushed through to 14km without a break, but then once I stopped, I’d blown my energy stores and had to walk longer and more frequently to finish the race. AND I was cooked. Totally cooked. Runners in my pack who’d been taking religious walk breaks blew past me and I never saw them again.

So, after a night battling an attack cat determined to scrape my face off while I slept (our new cat is just a little too “playful”), I woke up late and realized I needed to get to the south side of the city pronto for the Resolution Run.  Bless the Running Room for setting the start time at a very reasonable 11:00 am.  My husband dropped me off at the William Lutsky YMCA, the beginning/end of the race, and in no time at all runners were lining up at the start, kicking off the race right on time.

The course runs through a south side neighbourhood near the YMCA, and with a blue sky day warm as can be (only -2C!) it was a pleasure to be outside.  The route was a bit slick at the beginning, and I had to be quite mindful of the ice, strollers and many squirrelly dogs in the race as I navigated through the tail end of the pack to find a comfortable running spot.

I totally forgot to bring my running watch, so I was a bit clueless as to my own pace and distance as I ran.  I tried to take short, slow, “easy” steps, with a pace that felt like my standard treadmill trot.  I made an effort to take at least three walk breaks but without having a timing device I was at a loss with when I should schedule them, and went with just how I felt.  I didn’t see any mile or kilometer markers along the route. Without music, I pretty much listened to conversations around me, and my own breathing.

Five kilometers came quickly, and in no time I was crossing the finish line, which I  must liken to the bottom of a mall escalator in Dubai: packed with people just standing in the way. Ha. Sorry – but it’s true. (C’mon folks, MOVE). My time – all unofficial and according to the running clock – was 37 minutes. Way faster than I ever expected this early in my training game (what’s that, around 12:33 a mile?) – I suppose that’s mostly race/pack mentality. I did huff and puff a little, but felt great at the finish. Hello 2016!!

The Running Room had a big ole pancake breakfast underway for the finishers, and took in tabs for draw prizes.  I skipped the snacks, thanked some volunteers, and hailed the husband for a ride home.   All together a nice, feel-good way to start the year.  I’m looking forward to a good year of running opportunities!

What was/is your first race/run of the year?