Anna Maria Locke


winter running: tips and motivation (part 2)

After months of drought and flirting with balmy temperatures, winter has finally arrived in Chicago with a nice layer of snow and ice.
Despite the weather, I've finally started to get outside and run a little bit (read: about once a week) after two months of laziness and indoor workouts.
If you like to run outside when it's warm but turn to the dreaded treadmill or just quit altogether when the temperature drops below freezing, I'd like to try to convince you that winter running is NOT as horrifyingly terrible as it sounds! I'm only a casual jogger myself these days, but I actually prefer running in the cold since direct sun and temperatures above 65*F zap me, thanks to my northern European genes.
To motivate both you and myself, I've compiled a list of 10 winter running tips!** These specifically apply to running on sidewalks or roadsides when there's snow on the ground and the temperature is below freezing. I hope the list inspires you to pile on the layers and get your butt out the door for some Vitamin D.
Above all, be careful!

1. There is NO SUCH THING as "too cold to run" so you can lose that excuse right here and now. Just put on more layers and you'll be fine. However, there is definitely such thing as "too dangerous to run", so watch the conditions and don't be stupid.
2. Re-set your expectations. If there's snow and ice on the ground, you're not going to be able to maintain your usual pace or run as far as you want, so enjoy the opportunity to slow down!
3. Always wear sunglasses and SPF on your face. Snow is reflective!
4. Wear two layers of socks (or wool hiking socks). Running shoes seem to be made for summer, covered in breathable mesh panels, and you'll find that your feet may be the coldest part of your body! Numb toes are not fun.
5. Warm up inside. Put on all your layers and do 5 minutes of jumping jacks, lunges, burpees, jog in place, etc. until you feel your body heating up. This is essential to not wimping out the moment you step out into the cold!
6. Remember: Snow is a safer surface than ice. If you see a suspicious patch on the sidewalk that may be slick, move to snow covered grass until you pass it.
7. Pick up the pace on patches of obviously dry and clear sidewalk. This will give you some interval work to burn more calories and zap boredom.

8. Master the snot rocket. Gross? Oh yeah. Necessary? Only if you want to breathe. Tip: NEVER face into the wind.

9. Try to run without the distraction of your iPod. Cars aren't going to be looking out for runners especially if it's dark out, so make sure you're aware of your surroundings at all times. If a car lets you pass when they're stopped at a stop sign, give them a friendly wave and remember that everyone who sees you is massively jealous of your motivation!
10. Re-fuel with hot chocolate. If chocolate milk is the ideal recovery drink, I'm willing to extrapolate this finding to cocoa! Reward yourself after your effort, and enjoy a hot shower too. Also, don't forget to drink plenty of water. You might not be drenched in sweat, but your body is still losing fluids.
Do you have any tips to add to the list?
Good luck and happy workout :)
**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or fitness professional. These are my persional opinions only.

Happiness [+venting]

Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week.  All day I only have one class, so I can stay home all morning and work on whatever I want to, then go back to doing whatever I want to all afternoon.  Fall is definitely approaching; I can't BELIEVE September is half over!! It was sunny out today but very cool.  Ever since I got home I have been FREEZING so I am going to make a raspberry tea latte :) 
I also can't believe I have been in school for four weeks already. I feel like I am getting in better shape--it only took me 25 minutes to bike in this morning instead of 30 wooo! (but probably because I stuck to the main road through campus instead of the back roads/sidewalks I usually weave through in an attempt to avoid annoying undergrads aimlessly biking/milling about and the CATA buses that are quite scary when passing your bike on a narrow street).   In a feat of over-achievement I also went for a run around the campus golf courses this evening, probably the highlight of the day!  I discovered a gravel path that goes farther into the courses and followed it.  It was the best run I've had in weeks (as most of you know I've been battling the MOST ANNOYING hip injury EVER since July), my legs felt amazing instead of sluggish and I actually picked up my slow-jog pace for a tiny bit to get some endorphins ;) and it was surprisingly easy.  Now I have to wait and see how my hip responds to all this extra activity ha.  It was the perfect kind of run weather, slightly breezy and the setting sun backlit all the trees with leaves JUST beginning to turn colors.
On another note, it seems that while I'm out here in my little happyworld, lots of my family and friends have been facing personal and professional issues and have NOT been excited about each day ahead when they wake up.  This maelstrom of stress upsets me too, because I want everyone I care about to be happy when I'm happy (duh), and to figure out "life" so they can be completely satisfied they're doing what they were meant to do. 
Everyone faces set-backs and trials and uncertainty at times, but it is SO important to KEEP PERSPECTIVE always. I wrote those words in huge letters in my journal last year (I wrote a whooole depressing book) because I knew I would sometimes have to kick myself to keep going and remember that each day is only a miniscule fraction of the rest of my life, and if one day sucks, or even lots of days/months/seasons/a phase of life, it's ok because there will be better days eventually to even the bad ones out.  You might not even have realized just how good those future days are if you hadn't battled to reach them.
One other thing I discovered (the hard way!!!) is that you MUST make time for yourself to keep mentally balanced.  This time will not just pop out on its own, either because you are "busy" or because you feel selfish for not thinking of others 24/7, but you have to sacrifice "important" things to fit in some personal time or you WILL go insane and lose your sense of deep-down personal identity.  And cry.  And be no help to anyone else anyways. Nothing is ever more important than a little bit of quality me-time, no matter how many other things are on the to-do list.  That's just the way it is.  So go sing, lift, walk, read, whatever it is that reminds you of who you really are.
[On a third note, more specifically, if you just so happen to have been unfortunately smashed in the face with the obvious truth of a person's true personality that you have been trying to ignore for months and months, just know that your life WILL go on (and will get better!) without them sucking your happiness and good-spirited energy away.]
Whew, that's enough soapbox for the day!