A Post In Which I Air My Excuses for Not Running Enough this Winter

Jack SnowI now remember why Spring marathons have always been my nemesis. Back in early January I was full of motivation – the winter had gotten off to a relatively tame start (continuing a 2-year pattern that I expected would hold), and I was coming off of a great summer training cycle plus a Fall in which I had set a new PR in the Half Marathon. I let my training slide a bit after that race, but I was doing enough to maintain my fitness. After a 2 year hiatus, I was ready to tackle 26.2 once again.

My target race this Spring is the Vermont City Marathon in late May. It’s a race that I’ve run twice before, and on both occasions I crashed and burned around mile 16. I’m signed up, the hotel room is reserved, and I will be on the starting line. What happens beyond that is very much up in the air at this point.

My initial goal was to run a solid race, and maybe shoot for a PR if training went well. Well, life and winter have caused me to re-evaluate my plans. I started this marathon training cycle by asking my coach (Caleb Masland) to start feeding me weekly plans again. We had paused formal coaching after the Smuttynose Half Marathon last October since I knew I would be heading into a relative rest period through the holidays. The plans started arriving every Sunday, and though I can hit the workouts when I get to them, getting the workouts in has been a challenge. Particularly the long runs.

I could blame this entirely on the weather. The reality is that the past several weekends have seen some truly awful weather here in NH. First we had the storm of the century, which dropped over two feet of snow in a weekend in my town. I got in a long snowshoe workout, but an outdoor long run was impossible. Then we had a weekend of 20 degree temps with 40mph wind gusts. Caleb, to his credit, ran 25 miles in that. I, on the other hand, wussed out. This past weekend we got hit with another foot of snow. Such is life in northern New England. You either suck it up, or sit on the couch. Lately, I’ve been succumbing too often to the latter.

The obvious solution here would be to move my long runs to another day, but fitting them into my schedule during the week has been tough. It just hasn’t been happening. Hitting the treadmill is another option, but my basement ‘mill isn’t functioning properly right now (I think it’s a sign given how much I hate that thing with a burning passion).

So yes, I’m whining. And no, I don’t want sympathy. What I want is to publicly state the excuses that I keep making to myself in the hope that it will prevent me from continuing to make them in the coming weeks. I have 26.2 miles to run in May, and I will complete that race. My goal of a PR may not be realistic, so I’ll settle for finishing it without hitting the wall, regardless of time. If nothing else I will have a solid base heading into the Summer and Fall racing seasons.

I’m heading to Disney World on Thursday for a bit over a week, so weather will not be an obstacle, but I may need to get up early to run so as not to disrupt family plans. I just wish I was a morning person (yes, another excuse!). My hope is that when I return hints of Spring will have arrived in NH, and runs will come easy.

In a nutshell, I need to stop making excuses. I need to stop complaining. I need to get off my butt. I need to run!

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.



Comments

  1. Just finished the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth, TX (my first one) after starting my training in RI in November. It definitely wasn’t a fun training cycle. It was rough getting up at 5:30am to run in 20-30F temps but I got through it. Nemo threw a giant wrench in my plans as I had to do my final 1.5 weeks of training on the treadmill. Running over 10 miles on a treadmill should be illegal.

    Finished the marathon in my Grid Type A5′s, thanks for the shoe review / recommendation Pete!

  2. disqus_Fp2oq1Qmqw says:

    It is difficult to me to understand this situation, since I live in Rio de Janeiro he he. Temperature today is expected to reach 102F, with sensation of 110F. Even during winter our lowest of the season is around 58F. Problem we have about the weather is heat, especially between 8 am and 8 pm and, sometimes, tropical storms at the end of the day. However those can be avoided if you run early in the morning or later in the evenings.

  3. James Ubriaco says:

    Glad you got it off your chest. It seems there’s always something with our running: low motivation, injury, the weather, the job, family commitments, and so on. I think the most important thing is staying patient and keeping your eyes open for what you can take away from any given situation. Good luck and have fun with it!

  4. Looking at the forecast for New Hampshire, it doesn’t seem all that different from Chicagoland. Stick to plowed streets, wear the right gear, and run the long runs with a club if you can find one. Works for me. ;)

  5. Louise Bourque Cunningham says:

    Sneak in a nice easy nontimed run in Florida.. it’ll do you good!

  6. Brisbane summers are also no good for running…..extreme humidity and none stop rain, so I’m feeling the same frustrations. Been running on the treadmill but I cant stand it

  7. I love reading posts like these! Makes me more appreciative of the weather in my town and at the same time, I really don’t have an excuse for missing my own training runs when it’s 70 degrees outside! I agree with you about Spring marathons… they cut into my winter fun/hibernation ^_^

  8. bdizzlefizzle says:

    Great to go public with your self-induced situation. We do often put more energy into not doing things than doing them would actually take.

    I’m really looking into tools to make treadmills less horrible, if not enjoyable. After an amazing week of running the River Thames in London, I used those visuals on my treadmill runs, and have been searching for video that ties to movement to mimic that. There are iPad apps that tie to Ant+ footpods that do it (Runner’s World mentioned a few, but failed to mention that they work on the iPad, but instead said you needed a particular treadmill or a PC hooked up to a TV). VirtualRunner from Outdoor Interactive is the one I’m leaning toward.

  9. Greg Strosaker says:

    It has been a long tough winter, and I’ve been grateful not to be training for a marathon, and wondering if I can ever be motivated to do a spring marathon again. But since they don’t seem to have any inclination to move Boston to a different time of year, I guess I’d better just get ready to suck it up. But it’s pouring right now, so I think I’ll comment on blogs instead.

  10. John Molander says:

    You need to get 30 min lunchruns. Pack your bag in the evening.

  11. Tom Davidson says:

    that two-footer was a beast down here in Mass too. I took most of a week off because the plow piles made visibility near zero around corners of roads as well as narrowing roads beyond safe. And it’s been not just cold but windy and cold this season too. Just wears you out without the benefit of any enjoyment. Ugh.

  12. Andrew Skarzynski says:

    Eh, it’s only February. Errr, wait, it’s almost March. Darn it, now I have to get going to…

  13. Defnitely sympathetic to this. I had planned to sit out a spring marathon for precisely this reason but ended up being persuaded to run Paris.

    My training has been less than ideal due to an average but still unpleasant winter in London, dark nights and long working hours. It takes commitment to get out at 8pm in freezing temperatures after a long day in the office and I’ve found too many excuses.

    Real respect to everyone making the effort, although part of me also thinks that focusing on other goals this time of year (form, strength, shorter races) and putting in the hours over summer for an autumn marathon works better for me.

  14. patrick voo says:

    hey peter – i totally get what you’re saying. i live about 50 mi. north of toronto in the snow belt (an easy day of snow is about 10 cm), and the coldest that i’ve been out running is -20F (with windchill). i’ve been working on the hansons marathon training plan, so since january it’s averaged about 56mi./week. i know how tough it is, but despite the criticisms i’ve felt really good about sticking to my outdoor training plan (more on my crazy addiction to winter running on my blog: link to rendezvoo.blogspot.ca…. so when you do muster the added resolve to get out there, know that i’m behind you 100%!

  15. Robert Osfield says:

    Trying to stick to a specific schedule in extreme weather is going to do more harm than good as it’ll diminish the importance of keeping generally active. Instead strip the training back to it’s the training effect you are seeking and look for types of exercise that provide a similar effect. Cross country skiing and walking with shoe shoes is an excellent for aerobic fitness and both get you outside.

    A HR monitor is a good way of measuring the training effect, so if you are used to doing a particular running work at a specific HR range then look for something similar with your replacement workout. I’ve found this winter running in even 6″ snow can reduce my speed for given HR rate by 20+% so I just accept the slower pace and shorted distances with confidence that I’m still getting desired training effect.

    When doing tasks like clearing snow, again put on your HR monitor and treat it as a work out. Take the kids out sledging – pull the sledge with them on is a great way to get the HR up. Just find any excuse to get outside and play, as long as you are moving, your muscles, heart and lungs are all working and providing a training effect.

    The other thing you can do is work on diet, make sure you don’t sit idle and eat to fill time. If you can keep your weight down for when the weather improves then you’ll find it easier when you start back running regularly.

    Good luck.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks Robert, and yes pulling kids on a sled is one of the most intense forms of exercise I know. Mainly because I can never go fast enough for their taste!
      Sent from my iPad

  16. tami carpentiere says:

    It has been a terrible winter here in New Hampshire ! I am an early morning runner/execriser and between the snow ( the streets are not fully plowed at 5am) and the cold temperatures I am glad my first race that I have signed up for is in July. I had this week planned out and now we are getting more snow Wednesday…so much for my run I had planned for on Thursday, I am glad I like to snowshoe

  17. Rodger Kram says:

    The key for me has been to eliminate the decision process of “will I run today?” or even “when will I run today?”. Instead I decided to run every day at least 20 minutes. 360 times per year I do so before I go to school or do anything else besides bodily functions. A few days per year, work demands me to be in early. It has been tough a few times (food poisoning, flu, snowstorms) but I’ve not missed a day in nearly 4 years now.

    This year to motivate myself through the darkest mornings, I vowed to run at least 60 minutes/day for the first 60 days of the year (I’m at 58 days so far).

    What I find is that as the streak gains momentum it makes “not running” a harder decision.

    The champion of streaks is Ron Hill.

    link to runnersworld.com

    Every day streaks are probably not smart for people prone to injuries, but my friend has a 6 year streak of 6 days/week and that works for her.

    Just do it.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks Rodger, may need to try this! I need to bite the bullet and get over not functioning well in the AM.
      Sent from my iPad

  18. You motivate me to run – and buy shoes. Maybe you should read this blogger too: http://www.runblogger.com! :)

    Have a nice week in Disneyland! What shoes do you take with you for running?

  19. Barry Wright, III says:

    It always helps me to write out my barriers/excuses – it brings them to the top of your mind and can make it easier to work on them one by one.

  20. Marc Schwartz says:

    Great post Pete. I suspect that we all go through days, weeks or even months where there are the distractions of life that manage to keep us from maintaining a desired path. Living in the northern part of the US does not help either and I too have found that the past couple of months of rather cold and snowy/icy weather has been a hindrance. I also have a treadmill, but really prefer getting outside as much as possible. I found that I had to adjust my expectations of progress over the recent couple of months and hope that come warmer weather in the next few weeks I can begin to move forward again.

    I hope that you have a great time down at Disney World. It is one of my favorite places to recharge, along with cruises, which my wife and I will be doing at the end of March. If you need an online resource for Disney World, some dear friends of mine run a web site at link to allears.net. It’s a great site to keep track of recent events and all kinds of information on the resort, including running trails (link to allears.net:-)

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks Mark! I’ve been going to Disney most years for my entire life, so I’ve come to love it as well. But, I’m always in need of running routes – thanks for the links!

      —-
      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
      -My book: Tread Lightly: link to ow.ly
      -Blog: http://www.runblogger.com
      -Twitter: link to twitter.com
      -Facebook Page: link to facebook.com
      -Discussion Forum: http://www.runblogger.com/forum

      • Marc Schwartz says:

        Happy to help Pete. If you check at Guest Services at most of the Disney hotels, they can provide you with a map of running routes around that hotel and approximate distances.

        I am originally from NY, but never got down there as a kid. Moved to MN in 1976. We have been going since 1987 and are typically down there once or twice a year. Our kids are now in their late 20′s, so it has been primarily my wife and I for the past number of years. It’s our longer term plan to relocate down to the Orlando area at some point.

        We also finally joined the Disney Vacation Club a few years ago and our “home” resort is Bay Lake Tower by the Contemporary. However, we are using our points from this year and some of next to go to Aulani, DVC’s new location in Hawaii, in August for a week with our kids, so need a larger room. Thus, we may not get down there until some time next year at the earliest, which would be the longest interval between trips. :-)

  21. Pete, you can buy a cross-country rig at EMS or REI for the cost of a couple pair of running shoes, and then you’re good to go through these snow storms.

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