Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Good Question: Inside or Outside?

Its been a few weeks since my last post.  So, it is time to dive back in and tell you all what I have been doing on the fitness front while the cold has taken over the northeast.

Runners, during the winter, we have many options to stay fit.  We can run inside on a treadmill; we can run outside in the cold and snow; or we can ride a spin bike or use a bicycle trainer.  Well those a generally my options.  This past winter, as you may see by the evolution of this blog, I have started to ride more than run because of general aches and pain caused by running, and my desire to stay indoors for training because I no longer enjoy the cold, so I thought.  This is where the question above comes in, and the answer may surprise you.

Running inside is boring.  I can only stand running while staring at a TV or a wall for about 30 minutes, only enough time to get about 3 or 4 miles in depending on how I feel.  Not to mention that sometimes running indoors can be torture during the winter because the heat in the house is turned up and gets warm fast.  If you run inside on the treadmill, purchase a fan.  It makes for a significantly cooler and more comfortable run.  To tolerate the treadmill run, I added a 40 minute to an hour training bike ride so I achieve 70 plus minutes or so, depending on how I feel, to get more out of my daily exercise and increase my calorie burn.  I do like that method of training indoors best.

The spin bike was a great option for me until I broke the spindle holding the cranks in the spinners bottom bracket.  Now I wait for repairs before I can start spinning again.  I love spinning.  Its simple.  It affords me more training options than the bicycle trainer which I feel, a times, does not offer amble resistance to stand for extended periods of time.  The spin bike allows me to stand anytime and with greater resistance options it duplicates a hill climb better than a trainer.

Oh, now for the outside training... no bicycling in the snow and sub 40 degrees (much below 40 this past month) so that means running.

When I started running in 2008, I loved hitting the road in the winter. I remember running at Onondaga Lake Park (OLP) at 5am with a friend.  The wind blew off the lake cold.  The snow pelted your face.  You froze for the first 5 minutes then you would sweat for the next 30 to 40 minutes and freeze again the last ten minutes before you blasted the heat in your car for the ride home. Yet, it was a badge of honor to tell your friends and co-workers and fellow runners that you had braved the elements and beat mother nature and ran the good run under the circumstances.  Damn that felt good.

It felt even better to run outside while the snow fell, especially that first big snow.  Running the miles listening to the fresh powder crunch beneath your feet was glorious-- is glorious.  Unlike the summer, there is no need for music because the silence of a snowy night is bliss.  Sure your footing may be unstable, but the focus to pace yourself safely, the added stress to balance and push through the pain in your quads is an added benefit you can only have while running on a sandy beach in the summer.  Not all of us have that opportunity in the summer never mind the winter.

I have shied away from the winter outdoors run because I let the cold beat me mentally, mother nature pushed me back indoors and mocks me when I drive passed a runner on my way to the store.  I have had enough of that old hag; no more!  I shall run outside because I love it.  I have hit the road again in the cold.  I have suited up.  I have ran in the slush, the packed snow, and the fluffy powder.  I have ran in the sub freezing temps as low as 17 degrees again, and I like it.  I have pushed old momma nature off my stoop and twice a week I run outside while holding my head up high as the cars drive by and wonder what the heck is that dude doing tonight.  I have taken a spill, but I jump right back up.

 I do not run as I did in years past.  I run slower now.  I do not plan to run anymore marathons, but I do plan to stay in shape.  To accomplish that goal, I aim to run 6 miles minimum even in the cold, heartless winter.  I had forgotten how warm you get while running.  The tendency is to wear too many layers.  But being overheated outside, just as inside, is not good.  Its uncomfortable and messes with your head.  Dress intelligently.  I wear a base layer long sleeve wicking shirt under my half zip jacket and an outer shell up top, and I wear a base layer wicking tight under my running tights with over the calf socks and my usual running shoes.  I wear a pair of gloves, usually made of a wicking fleece and a wool cap.  On really cold nights I will wear a balaclava.

So, to answer the original question, Inside or Outside?  I choose Outside.

Enjoy this horrible winter by making it the best running winter ever.  I will see you on the road.
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