winter training and me

So I received a nice little reminder in my email inbox today.

Thanks for addressing me as a Boston Marathoner. Thanks also for reminding me I have less than 10 weeks left to train.

Oh the irony that the B.A.A. specifically says they hope that “everyone’s Winter training is going well” because honestly, all I’ve been thinking over the last couple of weeks is that if I didn’t have this to train for, I wouldn’t bother making any goal races for earlier in the year, and save them for the summer (yes, you heard that right) and the fall.

As for the mileage, with the exception of the one week that was derailed by illness, I’ve been on track, getting it all in, getting the intervals, tempos, hills, long runs done.  The problem?  I don’t seem to have the speed I had last summer.  My intervals and tempos are definitely slower than usual.  What was supposed to be a fun last 5 miles on my long run last weekend as a group run to City Bakery turned out not-so-fun when I got dropped because I couldn’t speed up to anything faster than a 9 minute pace (which last year was my go-to-long run pace, mind you.)  And mentally it gets to me.  These speeds aren’t worthy of a Boston Qualifier.  What right do I have to be running Boston?  How the hell did they ever let me into the race in the first place?

That aside, I do feel that in many ways, winter training just does not agree with me.  I know a lot of you love running in the winter, but hear me out.  And even with this winter being milder than normal, it’s still not ideal weather for me.  Outside of running, in the spring and summer, I like to be out and about.  Cold weather makes me want to hibernate.  Which leads to less sunlight which leads to vitamin D deficiency which leads to tired and cranky me.  And I’ve noticed it’s much easier to eat better in summer (love watermelon and berries that are plentiful and in-season in the summer!) whereas now we gravitate towards more comfort foods and hot chocolate (or in the case of City Bakery, a melted chocolate bar.  I did run 15.5 miles to earn that though!)

Motivation?  With the exception of my speed/tempo workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s been a struggle to force myself out the door, even for long runs.  I miss all the organized long runs of last summer, and I’m not looking forward to doing all my 20’s on my own.  (Or even I have 18 on tap this weekend, which won’t be a picnic either.)  One disadvantage to our “hometown” marathon being in the fall I guess…

And just to add to my complaint list :-p  The fast stuff has been tough, my lungs do not deal well with having to breathe in cold, icy air, which is an issue with interval workouts and short races.  Guess the Cherry Tree relay in a week and a half will be interesting, huh?  Ideally I’d pass on all short races for a couple of months, but I got my arm twisted into this one, as I was originally planning on yes, the 10-miler as a training run.  Maybe this is why I got all my short distance PRs (the 4 and 5-milers) in the summer last year?  Hell, even my 5K PR was a summer race…

And maybe it was just too soon after NYCM to jump back into training.  Coach T has even said it himself, that the fall-then-spring marathon thing takes a lot out of you and he wishes most people would take the spring off after a fall marathon cycle (well not take it off, but not have a marathon as a goal race.)  And honestly, had I not already been registered for Boston, I would have had no desire to run another marathon in the near future.  But this may be my one and only chance, so I had to take advantage.

I know what you all are thinking, getting into Boston and running it is my dream, why aren’t I more excited?  Believe me, I am excited, I really wish I had a DeLorean to skip forward to April 16th 😛  It’s just all the putting in the work to get there.  There’s a difference between just going through the motions and stepping it up a notch, and I feel my training so far has been the former.  I am adjusting my goals, I don’t think I have a realistic shot at a PR or re-qualifying, but I do respect the distance, and would like to at least have a respectable performance that doesn’t end like it did in NYC.

For all of you who thrive on winter training…how *do* you do it?  How do you beat the winter blahs?

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16 thoughts on “winter training and me

  1. I’m not training for anything right now, but I’m leaning towards a winter marathon next year. I like running in the winter because it’s light out, you can always put more clothes on (you can’t run naked in August), and I just feel less spent after a run.

    • I thought it’s more light out and the days are longer in the spring/summer than the winter…when it’s dark when i get out of work, I can’t run on the bridle path or the northern hills.

      Someone correct me if I am wrong and I am getting my seasons mixed up!

  2. My old running group always saw Biston as a bonus. Once you’re in, you have nothing to prove. Enjoy the experience, don’t stress over mile splits or trying to PR. Celebrate the fact you’re there!

    • Well as I said before, given I only was able to get in because I aged up, I did want to get that 3:40 so others can just put a sock in it…but for now I’m letting that one go.

      • Aging up is a legit way the qualify. If I can’t do it this year, I’ll age up, qualify next fall and run it in ’15. If someone thinks there’s something wrong with that, it ain’t my problem.

  3. Lara, I am running 16 with my friend Alexandra on Saturday starting at 8 or 8:15 in VCP on all trails. Given that it is trails our pace will be between 9 and 9:30. Come join us if you want company 🙂

    • thanks for the offer, but will have to pass-weather looks bad for tomorrow morning. Also the pace is a little quick for me…I’m closer to 10’s in VCP (between the terrain and having to watch my footing-I’ve wiped out both times I’ve been there!)

  4. How? Okay, let me give this a shot…

    Just like anything…practice makes everything easier! If you make it a habit of going out and running regardless of weather than it becomes automatic. You just have to plan a little bit and learn how to dress appropriately for the weather.

    Another key is to have goals that are worthwhile to you. Have short term goals as well as long term goals. Maybe Boston is too far off for you to get excited about. Maybe you need something shorter and more immediate to motivate you? Sometimes picking a 5k/10k every couple of weeks can do the trick.

    Third key is to seek out people to do your long runs with, especially if you have a knack of skipping them or losing motivation. Although they are a little harder to find during the wintertime, there are still PLENTY of people who are training for Boston and other spring marathons. Find them, seek them out, and run with them to make the miles go by a little easier.

    Just some thoughts off the top of my head. I remember struggling a little too during my training for Boston a few years back when i was training through the winter for the first time. Now that I know how to do it better, I don’t struggle as much and have actually come to enjoy it a little.

    Good luck with the rest of your training 🙂

    • I do have the NYC Half on the horizon next month…and I’m doing the Cherry Tree relay with AG and LR next weekend. But in a way, I’m a little afraid to race as I’m unsure as to what the results are gonna be and don’t want that to be a downer.

      Also as mentioned before-I prefer not to race short in the winter, as I have breathing troubles when running short and fast in cold weather (which is my theory as to why my short distance PRs are in the summer)

      As for finding others-I’m trying. I posted you-know-where. No takers. I don’t want to be traitorous by looking outside the club, but…

  5. I’ve been training this winter, too, after running a fall marathon. One thing that’s helped me, beyond this winter’s being so mild, is constantly checking the forecast and planning runs accordingly, hard or longish ones on good weather days, easy or off days on the rare lousy ones. Also, my running club meets at 8 every Saturday, so I’ve always got company for at least some portion of my long runs.

    However blah your training’s been going, I envy you for getting into Boston. If by the grace of God I can crack 3:10:00 in New Jersey on May 6th, I’ll be headed there next year. Good luck with the rest of your training!

  6. What about bringing some of the short, fast work inside on a treadmill? It may not be very exciting but it would mimic the hot feel of summer and maybe help you break out of the winter blues. I find that I tend to run faster on the treadmill and even though it’s not as true a test as out on the road it will sometimes help “mentally” to feel like I can really run fast. Also, make sure you are getting enough vitamin D either through foods or a supplement.

    Apart from that, I really tend to agree with the idea that Boston should be your Victory Lap. You have earned this one and certainly have nothing to prove to anyone. Good Luck.

    • Actually, it’s easier for me to do those workouts outdoors-since I meet my speedwork group for those. The fact that we’re back at the track after taking a short winter hiatus has helped, there’s something different about doing intervals on a track as opposed to a measured piece of road.

      Agree with you about the vitamin D-I have been making sure I’m getting my dose via supplements.

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