Most people I encounter in Northern Michigan enjoy winter. They find ways to embrace it, think the freshly fallen snow is beautiful, and root for a white Christmas. However, come March, many of us sing a different tune. The end of February/beginning of March this year was glorious. There was sunshine and temperatures in the high 50’s. The snow was melting and the Yak Trax were pushed aside.
But then, second winter arrived. Second winter is the season that comes after that lovely, teasing warm-up – usually in March. March is the month of hope. The first day of spring comes and Michiganders warily let themselves feel a tiny bit of excitement for beaches, gardening, and fewer layers. Yet, winter always makes a comeback and we all know it’s going to happen every year. However, knowing it will happen does not necessarily make it more pleasant. Here are some tips I have for surviving second winter:
Continue to embrace it. Get outside, run in it, play in it, hike in it. Remember how excited you were for the first snowfall of the season?
Start planning your spring projects. Start your seedlings inside and map out your garden. My husband and I got chickens for the first time! We just picked up our baby chicks and they are happily hanging out inside under a heat lamp. This is definitely a sign of spring.
Don’t put away your winter gear just yet. It’s very painful to have to dig it back out.
Hold onto hope. Spring and summer will come! They always do.
Sadly, I only have four tips. My enthusiasm for winter is quickly waning now that it is the middle of March. On the bright side, second winter makes the beginning of spring that much sweeter. Since my tips are few and far between, send me yours! I’d love to know how you guys are dealing with the end of winter.
For every hobby, ambition, career, or belief system, there will be a person or group that will want to rain negativity on you for it. I recently had a very unpleasant encounter with a man who was determined to intimidate and contradict me in every way possible.
My husband works for a local brewery. I frequent this brewery to spend time with my bodacious spouse and enjoy the fine craft beers. Saturday night I walked in and spotted a seat at the bar. I asked the couple next to the seat if anyone was sitting there. The man replied, “No, but pretty girls can’t sit there.”
I rolled my eyes and suppressed the urge to vomit. After getting my beverage, this man continued to talk to me. I listened politely as he informed me of everything he purchased that day and that he lived in a wealthy community downstate.
He even went on to say, “I’ve made one million dollars in the past five years. Not many people can say that. Can you?”
However, he also mentioned that he had run six marathons, at which point I quickly brightened.
“Oh really!” I exclaimed, “I’ve run seven!” And our dialogue quickly turned to running. However, this didn’t turn out to be a pleasant change in the conversation. He was quick to inquire about my marathon PR, and squealed with glee as he revealed he had been much faster when he was my age. Bravo, guy, your personality could not be less that of a runner.
This man then informed me that he could no longer run at his age (57) and that I should enjoy running while I can. And then, the following conversation ensued:
Me, “What? Lots of people run at 57 and much older!”
Man, “Of course. But those people don’t start running until they are older. No one starts running at 20 and is able to continue doing it for 30+ years.”
Me, “Of course they do! What are you talking about?”
Man, “Absolutely not. I don’t know anyone who can run for more than 30 years. God gives you a season for running, and it isn’t that long. Enjoy it while you can, you won’t live forever.”
Me, “What about Katherine Switzer? And Meb Keflezoghi? Or Bart Yasso? And those are just a few of the famous ones. What about the everyday people who have been running their whole lives?”
Man, “Nope. There’s no way someone can start running at 20 and keep doing it when they’re 60. I’m a perfect example of that. And you probably hate Trump too, don’t you?!”
Whoa whoa whoa. When did this get political?!
At this point, I had to tell this unstable human that we needed to agree to disagree. Clearly this conversation was unpleasant, irrational, and ridiculous. However, he was unable to stop. He kept trying to prove his point, wildly swinging from Pro-Trump statements to informing me that I won’t be able to run much longer.
I don’t want to know what is going on in this man’s personal life to make him so miserable. I don’t want to know why a middle-aged man felt the need to continuously pick at a 30-year-old female sitting alone at a brewery. It is clear that he needed more attention than he received from the people in his life. Obviously this man was so miserable that he sought pleasure in attempting to pick a fight with anyone who would listen to him speak.
But you know what? The world is filled with people like this man. He was annoying and I’m sure I’ll encounter more like him. The point is, I’m not going to live my life any differently because of this stranger’s opinion. This man clearly lacked control over his life and was attempting to control those around him. He was insecure, rude, and unstable.
Sure, it’s very possible that I won’t be able to run at his age due to an accident, injury, or something else. But assuming I won’t be able to run merely because I am 57? Be serious, clown. I’m going to keep running until I can’t. And I’m going to start wearing a “do not disturb” sign at the brewery.
A dreadful thing has happened. I can’t even bring myself to say the words, “I am sick.” Rather, I am “under the weather.” It came on Wednesday afternoon while I was at work. As a typical runner, I thought to myself, “I better get my long run in tonight before this gets worse.” I went out after work that evening with the intent of running 20 miles, AHA (against husband advice).
Fortunately, I was on a loop course instead of doing an out and back, because I could feel myself getting worse as I ran. I became fatigued and wondered if I could even finish my first loop. I did, slowly and agonizingly, then admitted defeat. Shortly after, I went to bed, thinking I’d feel tremendously better after a good night’s rest. FALSE. I woke up feeling worse. I’ll spare you my symptoms, but I felt extra stressed as I had already had my rest day that week.
After laying in bed for far too long, I decided to attempt to ‘sweat out’ my illness at the gym. It surprisingly helped. Three days later and I’m still not back to normal. I can’t bring myself to rest completely (I know, I know). I’ve been doing easy, 30-minutes runs these past few days. After yesterday’s I felt worse, after today’s I felt better.
Does anyone else feel like when they’re sick, that half the time going out in the fresh air for a run makes them better? I feel like I’m tricking my body; if I’m well enough to complete a run, I must not be sick. Silly, I know. So here I am, accepting defeat, I’m not going to get my 20-miler in this week. This is the first week of my training program that I have not completed each run as scheduled. Big sigh.
I know runners, including myself, are notorious for pushing limits on running when injured or sick. I am going to force myself to take an extra rest day so that I can complete my long run next week, along with every other planned run. The logic of resting when sick is obvious, but following through is the difficult part. Rest now, run later. Because if I don’t, I might have to rest for longer than just a few days.
I’m a fairly optimistic person, but there are definitely moments where negativity sneaks in. If I’m not careful, I start to dread entire portions of my day and become irritable. One of my favorite quotes -oh wait, isn’t it called a mantra in runner speak? – Anywho, one of my favorite sayings is:
“Don’t treat a gift like a burden”
And we see this all the time. Something that we originally thought of as a gift eventually gets treated like it’s a giant pain. Work? Bleh. I don’t want to go to work today. But remember how grateful you were when you first got that job? What would your life look like if you didn’t have a job? Would you have a home? Would you be stressed about finances?
I would not survive without reframing. Reframing allows me to change how I look at situations to make them more positive. It allows me to see the benefit in doing things I might not want to do.
Reframing applies to most life situations, including running. (Of course!) On my long run days, I start to get anxious at work thinking about how I have to run 20+ miles in 10 degrees that evening. I think about how tired I am and how I’d much rather go home and stay on my warm couch than bundle up to run for an unreasonable amount of time. But I force myself to reframe. What if I was sick and couldn’t run? What if I lived in a dangerous area where I couldn’t safely run 20 miles? What if I had to run this long on a treadmill??? (Ultimate death) I worked for a long time to be able to run 20 miles. I reframe my thought process to think about how incredible it is that I can run a 20-miler after work and it doesn’t feel like a big deal.
I’m not saying reframing works for everything. As a social worker, I’m not going to ask someone with severe depression to “reframe and find the bright side in what you’re going through.” That’s a different beast. However, the art of reframing can make dreadful, exasperating tasks seem much more purposeful. Instead of saying, “I have to go to work today,” try, “I get to go to work today.”
Think about cleaning your home. Few people look forward to that task. Yet, I try to look at it gratefully. I have a home to clean. Not everyone can say that. I believe that gratefulness is essential to happiness. Reframing helps me to be more grateful in everyday life. So tonight, I am grateful that I get to run 20 miles after work. And I’m especially grateful I have a warm home and a pizza to come home too when I’m done.
I recently had the joy of participating in a conversation with runners about their biggest pet peeves within the running world. Below are a few that we discussed. Please feel free to comment and add pet peeves of your own. These crack me up.
When someone refers to any distance as a marathon. For example, “I ran the 5k marathon last weekend.” No, Daryl, no you did not.
When you just start out in a race and a spectator shouts, “You’re almost there!” Ok, Clyde. Go sit in your car.
Awful race signs. At my first marathon, there was a man holding a sign at the .2 mark that said, “Only 26 more miles!” I continue to hate this unknown man.
Wardrobe malfunctions. Recently I went on a run where my shirt kept riding up, my pants kept slipping down, and my shoe came untied three times. Running is hard enough. Stay in place, shiz.
Every training plan I have followed sets up each run by pace: an easy run should be completed at a 10:00 minute per mile pace, speed work should be completed at a 7:15 pace, etc. My 50k training plan is not set up this way. With this plan, my runs are completed by “effort.”
On tap for today, I have a “one hour medium effort run.” As this is new way for me t train, I find it weird. I also do not find it consistent. “Medium effort” for me changes daily. My best “medium effort” is after 8 hours of sleep, maintaining proper nutrition, and tolerable weather conditions. Today’s medium effort run will not be optimal medium effort. I got less than 6 hours of sleep last night, drank 2 beers yesterday, and ate a Twix bar (not sorry about that). Not to mention, the roads are covered in ice and the wind is exceptionally gusty today.
Though my effort level will still feel “medium,” I am willing to bet my pace will be slower than if I was well-rested and nourished, running on dry roads. So I question, is it better to run by specific pace or on effort? What is the benefit of running by effort? It seems easier to me, almost like a cop-out. I can easily convince myself that I’m running at a medium effort. But with paced runs, there’s no cheating. Either you are on pace or you aren’t.
I suppose that since I do not have a time goal for my first 50k, running on effort is just fine. With this race and its training, I care most about getting the miles in. However, I don’t think I would use a training plan that utilized effort level over pace if I was training for a specific time in a race.
What are your thoughts about “effort training” over training with specific paces? How does this work out for you when race day comes?
Wouldn’t it be awesome if my full-time job was that of a runner? Well, it’s not. Somehow my 9:15/mile pace hasn’t caught anyone’s eye. (Go figure!) Fortunately, I sincerely love my day job. When I’m not running, I work as a clinical therapist. It is fair to say that I am equally as passionate about mental health as I am about running. As it would turn out, I’m not the only one.
I first heard about Still I Run on the Michigan Runner Girl podcast. Still I Run founder Sasha Wolff was interviewed and I was hooked. Still I Run is a community that raises awareness about mental health through running. One of the main goals of Still I Run is to defeat the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
Immediately I knew I had to be a part of this movement. I emailed Sasha and we connected. I had the honor of writing for Still I Run, sharing my story and providing insight on how to incorporate mindfulness into running.
You see, I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. Running helps me manage my symptoms of anxiety – which includes irritability, fidgeting, and overthinking everything. Running helps me manage my mental health so I can help others manage theirs.
When I saw that Still I Run was looking for ambassadors for the 2018 year to help spread awareness about mental health through running, I knew it was a perfect fit. I applied and kept my fingers crossed. Just last week, I received the exciting news that I was one of seven selected to be an ambassador for Still I Run.
Still I Run is a community of wonderful contributors, writers, and passionate individuals. Be sure to check out the full website to read hundreds of inspiring stories and connect with amazing people. And keep your eyes peeled for more awesomeness this year!
People frequently ask me about trails in Leelanau County. They like to know what are the best trails for running, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, etc. People like to know the distance of each trail, whether they are good for winter running, if they have bathrooms at the trail head, and so many more questions that I fall short of answering.
In 2018, I will be putting together a Leelanau Trail Guide for Runners. You see, ‘Trails of M22’ is a great book for locating the trails, however, it leaves many questions unanswered. Believe it or not, I’m a planner; Type A personality to the max. So I need to know exactly what I’m getting myself into for a trail run.
As a runner, these are the things I want to know about a trail prior to running it:
Is there a bathroom at the trail head?
Is there a place for me to change into my running clothes?
Is it well-marked or will I run in circles and get lost?
What are the distance options of the trails?
Is it hilly? Lots of roots to look out for?
What are the highlights of the trail? Scenic overlook?
Is this trail used year round?
Can people hunt on this property?
Those are my questions, but I bet there are more out there from fellow runners.
I need some help from you fine folks!
What kind of information do you want to know about trails before you run them? I’m happy to do the brutal work of exploring each trail (cough cough), but let me know if there is something specific you need to know and I will fully investigate.
Look how behind I am at updating you guys on my 50k training. Week one has passed and we are well into week 2 now. I started this blogpost with a day-by-day recap of what I did and how it went, but then it got obnoxiously lengthy, and who really cares about every tedious detail? I’ll save that thrilling report for my gracious husband.
Instead of filling you in on every dirty detail, let me tell you what I learned this week. I learned that is it NOT ideal to start a training program the week before Christmas. Maybe some people can successfully do so, but I’m not the champion of the world. Also, A) I was sick with some sort of sinus nonsense B) I had not done any holiday shopping yet C) I work full time + had 26 hours of on-call scheduled this week and D) I had to dedicate one evening to celebrating your father’s birthday. AHHH
Let’s just say I am patting myself on the back because I completed my long run, my hilly run, and “medium effort” run. (Though “medium effort” is very relative to how I was feeling with my sinuses in the state they were.) I also got two strength training days in at the gym. My hill runs are supposed to be on trails, and I fell short there. I opted to run the road hills near my home because I didn’t have extra time to get over to a trail to do the right thing. Ping! Hopefully I’ll be better this week.
The most notable run on tap for this week is a 10-miler. I’m a-ok with keeping it short because this week’s forecast does not enter double digits. Today we have a balmy 4 degrees with a -13 windchill. Of course I’ll boss up and complete the runs, but one just may be on a treadmill this week.
However, if I can handle completing my training runs on a hectic week like this, it gives me hope in carrying out the rest of my training runs, no matter what my schedule looks like. It can only get easier, right? (As I stare begrudgingly at future 20+ mile runs…)
There was a time (not so long ago, in fact), where I thought running a 10k was impossible. (Someday I’ll share with you all what it was like for me to train for my first 10k, I thought I was going to die.)
Fast forward 6.5 years and I have completed seven marathons and more 10k’s and half marathons than I’ve kept track of. I love the marathon. (It is easy for me to say this right now, my last one was in May – I’ve safely distanced myself from the pain and repressed the memories.) I have many lofty goals for my running self, one of which is completing a trail ultra. (Another running goal includes the illusive BQ, but one thing at a time.)
Starting December 18th, I’ll be completing an 18-week training plan to run Endurance Evolution‘s Traverse City Trail Festival’s 50k. At the date of this publication, the date of that is still TBD (Come onnnnn, Endurance Evolution, don’t you know how impatient I am?!) However, in the past, this race has been run the 4th weekend of April. So I’ve created my training plan in hopes that will be the case in 2018 as well.
For training plans, I have a habit of finding one I like online and then manipulating it to fit my schedule, fitness level, and environment. I also don’t plan what I’m going to do each specific day – that just never works for me. Because life, ya know? So I write down all the workouts I’m supposed to do in a week and then evaluate what each week looks like and when I can do which workout. Because sometimes, it just doesn’t work out to complete a long run on Sunday (brunching and mimosas have a strong pull).
Week one is as follows:
‘Long’ 8 mile run
Easy Run or Cross training + Strength training
45 minutes of hills and trails
Cross training + strength training
45-60 minutes easy run + strength training
1 hour medium effort run
You’ll notice that the runs include “easy” or “medium” effort instead of pacing times. As this is my first trail ultra, I’m not concerned about time and will feel out my pace. My training program also includes more strength training than any plan I’ve come across. However, I’ve found that weight training is crucial for injury prevention (and it’s nice to have some indoor workouts in the winter). For accountability purposes, I’ll check-in weekly with my progress.
If anyone has any pointers for moving up from the marathon to an ultra (especially a trail ultra!) I’d love to hear them.