It’s official. As of yesterday, I’ve signed up to run the Ottawa Race Weekend Half-Marathon…in six months. Even better, so have two friends from out of town (hi Jackie and David!), as well at least one local. There will probably be brunch and mimosas after the race.
It’s a distance I’ve done twice before, improving by 14 minutes on the second attempt, but I’m still nervous, because it means I need to properly commit to running this winter. Cold weather running is actually not as bad as you might thing. Obviously, when it’s -20C, it’s pretty damned cold, but easily done. I have a garishly bright cold-weather running jacket that was a bonus for signing up for NYE 10K a couple of years ago, lined leggings (which might not still fit – hmm), and enough layering clothes to come up with the right combo for almost any winter day. On some very cold days, it’s really easy to get a killer sunburn too (true facts: it’s is not that common to get snow on a very cold day, but it does happen).
I don’t have special running-in-snow shoes, nor do I even wear Yak Trax or similar. I just go, y’know, when I actually get out there. Even at my decent-for-a-kinda-beginner pace, you heat up so much that your feet don’t get cold, even in non-warm shoes, if you wear slightly thicker running socks.
The actual challenge of running in winter is psychological. Obviously, there are times when I go out and I absolutely hate it. This is all I can remember most of the time when I’m trying to psych myself up to head out on a winter’s day. Even on a nice day, I can talk myself out of running by tricking myself into believing I’m not hydrated/fuelled enough and need another snack + hour to get my body ready. Or that I will absolutely, positively go out tomorrow, but that this Simpsons rerun is one I haven’t seen in years and I should really watch it. Or that it really is very nice to sit on the back porch with a beer. (Which, this summer, became my post-training ritual on many of my Ride the Rideau, er, rides.)
So why the hell do I run if I’m so easily talked out of it? I am not even sure. I mean, running can be miserable, but it can also be exhilarating. It’s also nice to challenge oneself – three and a bit years ago, I couldn’t even run for a minute. It’s improved my cardiovascular health immeasurably, and made my awesome legs even more so. But, as much as I want to get better at it, I am awful about following prescribed running plans from any outlet. It seems like a lot of minutiae is require just to learn to go from point A to B on x date. So instead I overthink and talk myself out of it. It’s ridiculous.
Why can’t I just set a goal, set up training, and follow it? Actually follow it. Well, maybe 90% follow it. Because I’m human, and therefore fallible. Because I remember being a naturally talented runner when I was 12 and now it seems so difficult. Because I get overwhelmed thinking about how much better/more prepared people I know are and just shut down. Because I get back aches my chiropractor helps me iron out. Because sometimes I just feel wussy. Because I get over- or underconfident. Because running sometimes just isn’t easy.
I’m hoping that this time around, I will shut my doubts up more often and be able to say “Oh, yeah, I totally ran 18K on Sunday, April 15, so I’ll be laughing on race day”. So I’m going to set up a more organized training plan. And totally follow it at least 70%.