“But I never get sick”

As soon as I heard the words fly out of my mouth I knew it was the kiss of death.

Not long ago I was being lectured on flu shots from a group of friends. I nodded obediently as they discussed the benefits knowing that I would probably not go get a flu shot. I haven’t gotten the flu in over ten years. I couldn’t be bothered.

Flash forward a couple weeks and I am one of the fallen ones. The flu has wiped out a good chunk of Winnipegers this holiday season, many people saying that it’s a strain even newer than this fall’s flu shot.  My Christmas holidays were spent huddled in bed with the shivers, a high fever and a debilitating cough. I haven’t breathed through my nose in over a week.

As much as I’d love to ring in the New Year in a subzero 5k first thing in the morning (not sarcasm), I know my body well enough to tap out of this one. Even the best athletes in the world have their limits when their body isn’t well. It’s the only body I’ve got, I have to take care of it!

To everyone going out tomorrow to run the Resolution Run in Winnipeg or whatever city you live in, you are awesome! I look forward to cheering you on from my window and setting a new goal for myself in the New Year.

For those of you sickos who are stuck in bed this New Year, check out this article. It’s got all you need to know about when to start exercising again after being sick and how hard to push yourself.

http://www.eatmoveimprove.com/2012/01/when-to-start-working-out-after-being-sick/

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Staying motivated when you don’t have a finish line

I started plugging in my car a week ago. It wasn’t even December. It’s not even officially winter for three weeks. It’s not fair. This is what it means to be a Winnipeger.

I’ve already read a handful of articles predicting what the weather is going to be like this winter. I think many Winnipegers (including myself) labour under the cozy delusion that this winter isn’t going to be as bad as last winter. It’s pretty hard to get worse than last winter. Whatever helps us sleep in the subzero, frigid night I suppose.

Personally, I find myself still recovering from last years brutal winter. The side effect? I have absolutely no desire to run outside. Whatsover.

I know, I know, I’m a wimp. A sham even, as I sit here discrediting my own blog. Allow me to explain.

I’m not exactly the best role model when it comes to running. My routine mainly consists of two things: training for a marathon full force, or hardly running at all. To combat that, I try to compete in a race at least once a year. When I’m really feeling it I do a half marathon, when I’m not I’ll do a fun run. I haven’t decided on my next challenge and therefore I’m struggling to find the motivation to even hit the treadmill, never mind run outdoors.

In this apathetic phase, I am turning to the advice that I have once given others, but forgotten for myself.

1. Motivate in the way that’s best for you

2. Baby steps

Totally simple, yet easy to forget.

For me, I’m not motivated by having a workout buddy. I am motivated by signing up for a class with a starting point and end point. I am not motivated by sharing my progress (kms, weight loss) with others. I am motivated by giving myself accountability like announcing a challenge on this blog.

For me, the best way to combine what motivates me with starting small—baby steps— is to finally decide on my next challenge. So I have decided that my next running goal is to run the 26th Annual Brita Resolution Run in Winnipeg. If you haven’t gathered, it happens on New Year’s Day every year, no matter how cold the weather may be. For me, this is the perfect ‘fun’ run to start off the New Year.

Check out info on the run here:

http://www.events.runningroom.com/site/?raceId=5951

What motivates you? How to you keep a regular routine? No matter how cold it is outside, motivating your mind can be the biggest challenge in winter running.

For more advice on motivation, check out this article on www.lifehack.org:

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/thirteen-tricks-to-motivate-yourself.html

To quit or not to quit… that is the question

It was the combination of a friends recommendation and this photo that made me want to try something new:

www.Pinterest.com

                   www.Pinterest.com

I am pretty knowledgeable about diet and exercise. I know that to be a good runner, it’s important to practise strength training along with running to rev up your metabolism. When I’m training regularly I do this at least once a week. To keep things exciting, I’m usually up for trying something different and rock climbing seemed like a brilliant idea.

It was the classic case. The girl in this photo is clearly more advanced than I am, but surely I’ll be able to perform at an intermediate level despite not having rock climbed since I was 13 years old at summer camp. Well boy was I wrong.

I elected to try a form of rock climbing called bouldering. Not attached to a harness and rope, you basically make your way through a series of thoughtfully determined, colour coordinated routes. The routes aren’t particularly high because of the lack of harness, but usually traverse the wall quite a bit for added challenge. The goal is to only use rocks assigned to the route. And when I say rocks I mean silly little nubs with no space for gripping.

Can you guess how it went?

I was the only novice there. I decided to try out the kiddie wall for a laugh before I tried one of the beginner routes while the rest of the room watched. To my surprise, I couldn’t even do the kiddie route. After some pouting, I kept trying until I managed to get it. I was humiliated. To say it’s harder than it looks is an understatement. If I was climbing straight up, it would have been doable. But in this case, I was fully relying on my upper body strength to switch feet as I made my way across the small children’s wall.

I was there for over two hours watching an encouraging others. Every fifteen minutes or so I’d give a route a try in a less populated area. I’d maybe make it three feet off the ground before falling to the mat in frustration. My fingers hurt so bad. My thumb still doesn’t feel right. My arms hurt for over a week.

The regular climbers I went with assured me that everyone struggles their first time. If I kept at it, I would surely improve. They’re probably right. But I’ve decided to chalk this up as a learning experience rather than my latest conquest.

Do I consider myself a … quitter? Not really. I’ve never aspired to master the art of bouldering, it was just a ‘fun’ activity to switch up my routine. However, the friend that I went with was less than impressed with my attitude. Maybe I shouldn’t have given up so quickly, but I consider it a bigger crime to give up on a goal I actively pursue: to run a full marathon.  And no way am I going to let that happen!

Since my climbing experience, I switched up my routine. I’m working my arms better than ever before, and readying myself for my next experiment so I can come out feeling slightly less deflated than the rock climbing fandango of ’14. Who knows, maybe I’ll try again next year.

For those who are up for the challenge, check out your local coupon books and Groupons. Vertical Adventures in Winnipeg currently offers a 10-pack discount with over 50 % savings. I recommend trying it out once before buying a package, just in case climbing isn’t for you. On the other hand, it can also be a good motivation to keep going back to use up your pass. Whatever works for you!

Have you ever surprised yourself by failing at a new fitness venture? Did you give up or keep at it until you succeeded? Share your stories.

How Cold Is Too Cold??

Winnipeg Willow the groundhog didn’t see her shadow this Groundhog Day, but so far it’s not looking good for an early spring.

According to http://globalnews.ca:                                                                                                                 

“The coldest February since 1979 is ending with all of the province except the Churchill region under Environment Canada wind chill warnings. Dangerous wind chills of -45 to -50 are expected across southern Manitoba, the federal weather agency said. In northern Manitoba, the wind chill could drop as low as -55.”

HAVEN’T WE SUFFERED ENOUGH???

Well first I’d like to say that I am extremely thankful that when I ran the Hypothermic Half marathon last weekend it was only -16. If I woke up race day to -50 degree winds, I really don’t know if I could do it.

I’ve written before about how to protect yourself from the bitter cold (view post). But at some point you really have to know when it’s just too dangerous to run outside. In the winter I run in small circuits near my house so that I’m never far from safety. But if you enjoy something more scenic or the beauty and challenge of trails, it can be very dangerous to run when the weather gets too cold. Imagine twisting an ankle or realizing you’re underdressed miles away from home.

An article by Kelly O’Mara on http://running.competitor.com says:

“Research suggests that as long as it’s warmer than -18 degrees, it’s not too cold to work out — as long as you take the appropriate precautions.”

O’Mara explains that running in weather any colder than -18 puts runners at high risk of frostbite. But -18? That’s a few degrees away from wearing only windbreakers and shoveling the walk in shorts up in Winnipeg. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little.

Everyone is different and every city is different. As a born-and-raised Winnipeger, I’m comfortable running outdoors up to about -30, though I don’t enjoy it.

At what point do you stay inside? I am interested to see how Winnipegers and non-Winnipegers differ.   

Tips To Shopping For The Perfect Athletic Shoes

Great post from Design Heaven on shopping for athletic shoes. I would add of course the seasonal factor for winter climates. Consider whether you want shoes that you can wear year round, or specifally for a certain time of year. Spikes, mesh and other factors will make a difference.

AASTY

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If you are active in exercising, hiking, sports or any other type of physical activity that requires you to be on your feet often, athletic shoes are a must. These shoes are designed for comfort and support, durability and promise to withstand plenty of use. With a few simple tips, you will be ready to shop for athletic shoes and will soon be stepping out with confidence.

Comfort. The first thing to consider with any footwear, including athletic shoes, is comfort. If a shoe isn’t comfortable, there is no use in wearing it. Blisters, balance problems and overall discomfort are the result of poorly fitting shoes.

Affordability. Just because you are looking for a new pair of athletic shoes, there’s no reason to empty the bank account in doing so. Quality athletic shoes can be comfortable and affordable at the same time. By shopping around and comparing prices, you will…

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Vaseline and you.

Yep, I went there. Behold the runners guide to Vaseline.

  • Ever see volunteers hand out sticks of petroleum jelly at a race? If parts of your body chafe when you run long distances—thighs, arms, nipples etc—put some Vaseline on those areas before your run to prevent rubbing. There won’t always be a friendly face en route handing you a stick of jelly. And if there is, it’s always just a tad embarrassing to take it.
  • Slather—and I mean slather—your face with Vaseline when running in the cold with an unprotected or partially protected face. Exposed skin on your cheeks, nose, forehead and lips are at risk of windburn and frostbite. The Vaseline will protect your skin from pain and discomfort.
  • Mix Vaseline with sea salt to create an exfoliating scrub for your skin.
  • Use Vaseline throughout the day and before bed to heal chapped/dry lips and skin.
  • Use Vaseline as part of your treatment plan if you have athletes foot. Listen to your Doctor too, of course.
  • Put Vaseline on your feet in areas that are prone to blistering before a long run. Vaseline isn’t water based and won’t wash away from sweat.
  • Put Vaseline on your feet at night and cover them with socks. You’ll wake up with softer, smoother runners feet. It is usually better for runners to soften calluses than remove them—they’re there for a reason.

Have you got another use for Vaseline? A running related use… you sly devils. Comment with your best tips below!