Sunday, December 16, 2012


My brother Dave and I acting(?) depressed that we have to go
running on Christmas day, 2010
In my experience, December has always been the wackiest month for training.  Most collegiate runners are just coming off rest periods following the cross country season, and with the school semester ending and exams, most student athletes aren't following their normal training routines in the weeks leading into the holidays.  Everyone goes home where there are plenty of distractions - from family and friends to cold temperatures (if you're from where I'm from) to the strong desire to sleep in after eating Christmas feasts.

But December can also be a gold mine of training opportunity.  The same lack of structure at home can be turned into what I like to call freedom of training: the ability to run when you want, spend as much time doing strides, stretching, lifting, and recovering as your heart desires.  It just takes a little responsibility and self-coaching.  For me that means doing things like getting to bed on time, continuing to eat right, and making sure I get those doubles in before it gets too dark (today the sun set at 4:17 in Milwaukee).  That said, for as short as the break from school is, I've never been at home without suffering from a bout or two lack of motivation.  In those times, it's important to remember how soon the January races are.  For anyone suffering from the winter training blues, I'd say this: watch an inspiring race video or listen to some Blink 182 and you'll hop right out the door.  That might not work for everyone but the point is that winter breeds lethargy and lethargy is cured by energy.

Today ends a "down" week in training intensity for me following a 5k I ran last Friday in Bloomington, Indiana.  I ran as I felt all week and turns out I felt pretty good, finishing up with 94 miles at an average pace of 6:19/mile.  Just not doing workouts made me want to run farther and faster by the middle of the week - I could feel my body saying "wait, wasn't I supposed to get beat up today" and when it didn't, I naturally responded by running faster than usual on normal runs.  Today's long run was pure bliss - a little over 18 miles averaging 5:50 per mile, feeling great the whole way.  It's been great to just run for a week and enjoy the extra energy.

This coming week I'll resume workouts, and with my brother Dave coming home soon from school at La Crosse, WI, I'll have a training partner to run with.  I'm looking forward to taking advantage of all the time I have to prepare for track season in the coming weeks... after all, when I'm not doing anything else, I like to think I'm (almost) living the life of a professional runner.

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