Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chilly Weather Motivation and a Few Recommendations

Running is a great sport. It's basic, it's simplistic, and it's personal. A run can be a chance to clear your mind or to chat with a friend. The equipment required is minimal and the distance can be whatever you desire. All that is necessary to go for a run is to lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement (or side walk, or trail, or beach, you get the point.)

It's been a few years since I ran a race for the first time Junior year of college (the finale of which is pictured above.) I'm running a marathon (my first!) in March, and Ken is running the half marathon of the same race (his first!) I've loved every step of training and I am eagerly looking forward to race day. As the end of March slowly inches closer and closer, my mileage is rapidly increasing. What used to be comfortable, easy, familiar distances has become a challenge and a chance to practice perseverance in the midst of plummeting temperatures. Early this week I completed a nearly-three hour run, by far the longest run of my life. So what are the training tools I have found to be useful as my recreational running transitions to multiple hour sessions?

At the top of the list is MapMyRun, a fantastic website that allows me to map out a route before my run, so that I ensure I'm getting in the necessary mileage each time. I have used this for everything from finding a quarter-mile marker for my speed-training sprints, to determining where I'll run on Saturday long runs. Bonus: You can see other routes created in your area based on distance or terrain, AND, the website includes mapping capabilities for anywhere you might travel while training. Here's to never again getting lost while running in a new city (...not that I have ever had that happen...)

Next, I have found audiobooks to be a great alternative to music. Perhaps it is an inherent sense of rhythm (ahem) or perhaps its spending years as a rower- forcing my body to mimic the exact and precise motions of the girl sitting in front of me in the boat- whatever the cause, I find I run to the beat of whatever music is piping through my ear buds. On speed training days, this is a blessing, because all I have to do is pick an hour's worth of songs that have a fast beat and I'm able to hit the time splits consistently. However, it's tougher to compile three hours of consistently paced (and markedly slower) music. Thus, the audio books. They're entertaining, and almost function like a running partner, providing conversation and distraction from the run. Bonus, they often cost far less than purchasing 3-4 hours of music AND it's an opportunity to squeeze in a novel, classic, or biography you've been meaning to read. Most recently, I am listening to Agatha Christie's short stories about Hercule Poirot, a quirky who-done-it detective from Belgium. You may recognize this character from Agatha Christie's "Murder On The Orient Express."

Another recent addition to my workout routine: energy food. Although I have known for years that I can only run on a nearly-empty stomach (needing at least three hours between eating and running) it simply does not work for longer runs. The solution, per the recommendation of some who have successfully completed distance races, are Sport Beans and cut up Cliff Bars, preferably in the peanut butter flavor. I have also started carrying a water bottle with me, and although I understand it to be essential, I genuinely dislike holding onto it for hours on end. Any suggestions on better hydration options?

Lastly, the piece of equipment I'll be adding to my runs next week: shoe inserts that go in the oven, and then form to your feet when you step on them. Fancy, I know! Not only is it exciting, but it was also much cheaper than purchasing a new pair of my beloved New Balances. I plan to provide a review of said inserts in the next couple weeks.

What are you finding helpful for motivating you to stay committed to your goals this Winter?

-Domestic in the District


  1. I assume you have one of the water bottles that has a strap that fits snugly over your hand, making it easier to carry. If not, that's a far better alternative than just holding a bottle of water in your hand. It's still not fun, though. I don't like carrying the bottle either, but you can't go without it on long runs and most public water fountains are turned off these days.

    I've never heard of the inserts you described. Looking forward to your review of them!

  2. I have a water belt that can hold a water bottle (rather than those silly small bottles) made a huge difference and you are welcome to borrow- it really helped me run freely but still have access to water ( and you can fit some gu or other energy food in it as well along with your house key!