What goes through your mind during a race?

Tomorrow is my big winter race—the Hypothermic Half at Fort Whyte Alive! I’ve run in handful of races before, but never in the winter. I’m wondering how tomorrow’s experience will be different. Based on previous races, this is how my half marathons usually pan out. Do you see any similarities with your own experiences?

Sara’s thought process per Kilometre:

1 – Okay, feeling good.
2 – Am I tired already? This can’t be good.
3 – Yep, I’m already out of breath.
4 – Great, I have to pee.
5 – Alright, finding my stride.
6 – Would it be acceptable to walk yet?
7 – One third done. Really? Only a third??
8 – Think happy thoughts. This really isn’t so bad.
9 – I’m almost at 10 kilometres!
10 – Just about half done! You know, 10 kilometres is just the perfect amount. I’d love to stop now.
11 – Well at least my feet don’t hurt yet.
12 – Okay my feet hurt a bit now.
13 – I haven’t seen a water stand in freaking forever… oh there’s one up ahead!
14 – My playlist sucks.
15 – Someone’s handing out Freezies! Thank you!
16 – I am officially dying.
17 – I don’t care, I’m walking.
18 – Hmm the faster I run, the faster I’ll be able to finish this nightmare. Let’s see if I can muster up a second wind.
19 – Well that was short lived. Run a bit, walk a bit, run a bit, walk a bit.
20 – Home stretch! I’m never running again!
21 – Whoever marked this course is a dirty liar because this last kilometre is sooo not a kilometre. I give up. Fine, I’ll keep going.
Finish – Thank you very much I’m fabulous and so very athletic. Now where’s the snacks and why are they so far away??

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Olympic fever

God I love the Olympics. But I can’t help but notice there still isn’t a winter marathon event. Should the winter Olympics include some sort of outdoor running?

Since the Olympics reestablished in Athens in 1896, they have grown and accommodated with the times. Gone are the days of tug-of-war and polo as we now watch sports like ice dancing and BMX cycling on our televisions. Over 100 events have been added since 1980.

Though we see updates with every Olympic Games, it’s quite a challenge for a new sport to receive a spot in the Olympic program. Here’s the short version of becoming an Olympic sport:

• First, receive recognition as a sport from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
• Second, receive International Sports Federation status.
• Third, enforce drug testing code.
• Then, to be considered, the sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents.
• The sport must also increase the ‘‘value and appeal” of the Olympic Games and retain and reflect its modern traditions.
• The sport then must pass various other vague rules and considerations.
(http://www.britannica.com/olympics/reflections/article-277355)

Well my personal argument for adding a winter running event is simple. Running in the winter is crazy hard, and a true test of strength. Plus, there are only 15 sports in the winter games currently and 41 in the summer games. There’s plenty of room for another winter sport.

If I were to take a wild guess, I would say that there probably aren’t hoards of men practicing winter running in at least 75 countries. But before they became winter events, I probably would have guessed the same for skeleton and luge. Running represents athleticism of the human body in its simplest form, all you need are your two feet. The challenges of winter weather would only make this sport more impressive at the winter games. This is why I believe that winter running overdue in the Olympic games.

What do you think? Does winter running belong at the Olympics? Or does it favor only a small portion of athletes who live in cold climates?

Pushing through

For the past few weeks, I’ve been hiding the fact that I am terrified about my half marathon that is less than a month away. Since I kicked my training into high gear after New Years, I have been really struggling to prepare myself, something that I thought would go smoothly since I’ve run a few halfs before.

What I wasn’t prepared for is that running in the winter is DAMN HARD. It’s like running in wet sand mixed with evil snow men thrusting a snow blower in your face with minus forty winds. And while running outside on a sunny winter morning can be exhilarating, forcing myself to train through a polar vortex is quite another.

Despite applying everything I learned so far from Stride Ahead and Corydon Physiotherapy, I was struggling to run 7 kilometres at the beginning of the month. This is terrible and dangerous for someone who is going to try to run 21 kilometres.

My biggest issue was being out of breath and trying to cover my face to prevent windburn. Though experts suggest you should inhale through your nose, I often find myself relying on my mouth to breath. Covering my mouth in any way made it very difficult to breathe, so I found myself relying solely on Vaseline to protect my face and waiting for -20 runs or warmer.

After playing around with some supplements to give me energy, which didn’t do much, I discovered why I was having so much trouble. I happened to have an old asthma inhaler from a bad cough a while back and decided to use it before a recent run. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t struggling to breathe. I ran 12 kilometres and felt pretty good.

I am not a person who regularly struggles with asthma, but turns out it is quite common for winter sports to induce asthma. However I will say that there are many factors that make long distance running in the winter harder than the summer, and some upcoming videos will be posted to the blog to explore why.  

Here are some links that I found helpful. If you struggle with breathing—even if it’s just exercise induced or cold weather triggered—you may benefit from seeing a doctor for asthma treatment options. Always visit a doctor before self-diagnosing.

http://asthma.ca/teamasthma/asthma_ExerciseandCold_eng.pdf

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15994

http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/asthma-library/asthma-winter-sports.aspx