MY 31 DAY RUN THROUGH DECEMBER challenge

I have to admit that I tend to hibernate through November and December. I always have good intentions of keeping up my training and maintaining the fitness level that I have achieved over the summer, but it never fails that November and December are a complete failure for me running-wise.

Every spring I plan a large run, this year I have a 30k (Around the Bay 30k in March) and a half marathon (Mississauga Marathon in May), that makes me start running in January to get ready. Then I have 10ks throughout the summer which keeps me motivated through the hot weather. In the fall I plan another long race like the Toronto Marathon or the Springbank Park Half Marathon – that, along with a few fall 10ks where after all that marathon training I’m gunning for a PB, keeps me going until the end of October.

The problem occurs in November when I don’t have any local runs to plan for and when the weather gets cold, I just can’t force myself out the door. Then December gets colder and I really, really don’t want to get out. I always do the Resolution Run on January 1st, which is a lot of fun by the way – and you get a great jacket, however, since it is a fun run and there is no official time recorded, I don’t feel overly motivated to keep training. So, when January begins and I have to get my butt out the door to start my 30k training, I feel like I am starting from square one.

Well, this year I want it to be different. After reading my fellow Outrunning blogger Mandy’s “Hindering Hibernation” post I decided what to do. Mandy had some great suggestions:
1. Join a social running site such as www.strava.com. (I am on Strava and love it)
2. Sign up for an online running challenge. (I do that, but this helped my form my plan)
3. Get some new gear. (yep, got that covered – perhaps a little too well :o)
4. Plan out each week. (Okay, I don’t do this at all unless I am training for a big run)
5. Reflect on what you’ve accomplished during the last few months, and think about what races you want to do in the spring. (I want to maintain the level of fitness I’ve attained)

Mandy’s suggestions, coupled with a recent article I read in the December issue of Runner’s World magazine (A Season to Streak) helped me form a plan. I’ve decided to do a 31 day run through December challenge. I want most of my runs to be 5k, 8k and 10k, but on days when things are less than ideal, like perhaps a snow storm or feeling a bit under the weather, I’ll do at least a mile (1.6k). On days when I’m tired I’ll do the walk/run method (run 10 minutes then walk 1 minute) to help avoid injury. I’m going to take Mandy’s number 4 suggestion and work on a schedule over the next couple of weeks. It should be interesting when I’m away on holiday for a week, but I have some ideas on how to make that work too. (How about running up Smuggler’s Notch Road in Stowe Vermont – it’ll be closed for the winter season – I have that planned with my running friend Cathy.)

I’m going to keep track of how it went and write a weekly post of my progress, so check back throughout December. I hope this helps me maintain, or even increase my ability so that I can start my Around the Bay 30k training schedule more prepared than I was last year.

Who’s up for it?

Jackie

STRAVA.COM

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I really, really like Strava.com. I may even be a little obsessed with it. If you haven’t checked out Strava, please give it a try. It is a great resource for runners and cyclists – it’s a very useful and easy to use tool for breaking down and improving your runs and it keeps you focused and motivated. I encourage all my running friends, from novice to seasoned athletes, to get on this site.

When you upload your run, you see your route mapped out, you get your elevation, pace, calories burned as well as “awards” for any personal bests or course records you may have set. When you analyze your run, you see it broken down into 1km splits and you can see your elevation loss and gain per km as well as your grade adjusted pace. Being able to see your improvement over the short and long terms helps prevent discouragement.

The social aspect of this site is very encouraging too. It’s like Facebook for runners. I have 9 friends plus a few other local runners that I follow. You have the option of keeping any or all of your runs private if you want.  However, I recommend that you have your runs visible to your friends. Followers can give you “kudos” on each run and you have the option of commenting on your run and discussing how it went.

This site also enables me to “virtually” train with a few of my out of town friends. Even though we live an hour away from each other, we’ve managed to train for a half and full marathon together. When I come in from running and post my run, I often find that they were running at the same time as me and we can chat about our run. It’s also encouraging for me when I don’t have the motivation to get myself out the door. I’ll log into my Strava account and find that my friends have been out running and I feel compelled to get my butt out and run.

Strava is compatible with a number of GPS watches and phone programs and has its own program you can download to your smart phone making it available to almost everyone.

There are a number of other features that help you mix it up a bit. You can set “segments” up – I usually set up my hills as segments – and it keeps track of your best times as well as the best times of any other Strava runners that happen to run through your segment. I find it helps me to push that extra bit on hills that I might either normally avoid or take it easy on, to see if I can get that new personal best.

Strava also offers a number of monthly challenges that you can join. There is usually one challenging you to see how many kilometers you can log in one month, and there are usually other challenges like running a 10k, half or full marathon, or seeing how much elevation you can log. You then can see where you rank against runners all over the world.  We just completed a 10 day elevation challenge this past month that I will write about in the near future.

These challenges have helped me to log more distance than I ever thought I could in a month – they also make me go a little nuts sometimes – but that’s another blog…

If you are looking for a free, easy to use, social place to analyze, share and improve your running and cycling activities, definitely check this site out.

www.strava.com

Jackie

THE PINERY PROVINCIAL PARK ROAD RACE

I think I ran one of my favorite races this month at Pinery Provincial Park. It was a beautiful crisp but sunny October morning. The 10k was a fairly flat course with slight rolling hills. An out and back starting at the visitor center and going out towards the Dunes area and back. I enjoyed how peaceful this run was. Just a line of runners, a nice rolling paved road and plenty of trees and scenery. I felt happy and relaxed the whole run, not a car or a house to be seen.

The run was well organized even though it was a small run. Although they didn’t offer timing chips, they said they are thinking of having them next year. A friend of mine enjoyed running the 5k and our kids had a blast doing the 2k. The 200m Fawn Run was a joy to watch – little runners in the making.

This is a great race to go to for a personal best.

The Pinery Park race weekend also includes a Saturday 4k or 8k trail run (a 4k loop) that looks like a challenging but fun 4k or 8k run that includes paved road, stairs, beach and paths.

The only things that put a damper on the weekend were that I was unavailable for the Hog-nosed Snake trail run and that my fellow Out Running blogger Mandy wasn’t there running.  Next year the Road Race and the Trail race are a must do on my race roster.

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