I'm no scriptorian, but if I were ever to write a running Bible, that would be the title of one of the chapters. The chapter that covers why a runner who lives in a miserably arctic climate such as-- oh, I dunno, let's say Idaho-- should do all he or she can to endure through it because there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today, I saw that light. And like a sleepwalking child who smells sugar, I went toward it.
The temperature this morning as I set out for my mid-week tempo run was 35 degrees. That's at the beginning of the run! It could well have skyrocketed to 40 degrees by the time I was done. All I know is the sun was shining, the air was balmy and the birds were tweeting. It made me want to stop and tweet with them but I wasn't sure that was entirely appropriate. So, I repressed the urge to tweet and just ran and inhaled the scent of the imminent spring after another long, arduous winter. Other than the aroma of sautéing mushrooms and onions on Thanksgiving morning, nothing has ever smelled sweeter.
For the last 3 1/2 months, I've been cutting back my mileage. It was a forced decision in some ways as I had a shin injury that simply refused to heal. But I also did it in an effort to make time for more cross-training in my routine. After seven years, my body just didn't recognize running as real exercise anymore. As much good as running was doing, I might as well have been lying on the couch watching reruns of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, eyes glazed over and a stream of drool connecting my face to the leather. Okay... maybe that's not a fair statement. As opposed to running, at least I was burning a few calories on the couch by blinking once in awhile. And chortling. That Will Smith is a trip.
The elusive point to all this is my body had officially informed me the gig was up. I could run across the country and back and while I might burn a few calories doing it, I wasn't going to lose any holiday poundage, much less gain a sleeker physique. To do that, I had to bring some new game. And so I did-- and a new approach to my training was born. Five days a week of running turned to a mere three days, but mixed in with three other days of cross-training via one method or another. Inadvertently, I had become a master of the F.I.R.S.T program, endorsed by Runner's World, which promises eventual gains in speed on only three days a week of running.
It's working, folks. I'm feeling lean and mean these days, not to mention fast... just in time for the spring and summer racing season. I've got some PR's that are so buttered toast this year.
Just in time to feed all those tweeting birds.