The day after Christmas, a holiday called "Boxing Day" in Britain, dawned bitterly cold.
I didn't particularly want to get out of bed and go for a run, but we were staying at wife's parents' house in southern England, and I wanted to fit in my runs when they'd be least disruptive.
I donned my hat, two long-sleeve shirts, two pairs of lightweight gloves, boxers, running trousers, wool sox, and my running shoes. I put them on the radiator a bit before putting them on, so they were warm.
Outside, the air was dry and cold. There was still about six inches of snow on the ground from a snow-fall earlier in the week. The thermometer on the shed read -14 degrees Celcius (6.8 degrees Fareheit).
My wife's parents' house is at the end of a small village, near farms and pastures. I trotted down the road, and turned onto a public footpath that lead through the fields.
The snow underfoot was somewhat packed by previous walkers, and the path led through a corridor of trees between two fields. I saw a white-tail deer ahead on the trail, and it ambled off as I drew closer. I could see that it had been the remains of apples from a nearby tree.
The path then led along the edge of a field. The sun was rising slowly, but it didn't give off any warmth.
The path led to a small village. I emerged onto a road, and across it was a former schoolhouse, with a stone that read "Primitive Methodist School 1854". There were a few gravestones in the yard, and the former schoolhouse now seemed to be someone's home.
I headed down the road. My finger tips were getting numb, so I tucked my hands into my underarms.
The road descended a bit, and after a traffic-free mile or so through the countryside, I turned and headed back.
So, it's 18 weeks all told. I use the RunWell tool in the New York Times to log my runs, and also to edit this schedule. I'll often move around runs, and sometimes I run on rest days, and sometimes, of course, I miss runs. Often, I do my long run on Sunday instead of Saturday.
What I like about the plan is the consistency. You get out 6 consecutive days on most weeks. For me, this seems to be key in preparing for the weekend long runs - I feel stronger if I've been out 5 times during the week.
Something I read in one of George Sheehan's books (How to feel great 24 hours a day) also informs my training. He argued that when you train, you are really training your legs. Your heart, of course, also gets stronger, but really only up until a point; the key is your other muscles - and by that I'm assuming leg muscles.
So, I'm just trying to strengthen my legs, and there's nothing for it but running lots.
My first workout was a Yasso session on the track. The snow is still on the ground here, but someone had semi-plowed the track where I work. There were still a few inches of snow on it, but the snow was packed fairly hard.
It was a clear, cold night. Probably in the low 20s F (-5 or so C). The moon, and Mars, were bright. No one else was out. I wore two long-sleeve shirts, running trousers, socks, my Sauconys, a warm hat, and two pairs of gloves.
I did a mile warm up, and then Yassos: 7 x 800 meters, with a 400 meter recovery walk/jog between each interval.
My 800m times were as follows:
3:21 3:21 3:22 3:19 3:20 3:19 3:21
I was feeling tired at the end, so I think if I'd done 10 800s, my times would have slowed for the remaining 3.
I fell off the wagon, motivation-wise, this past week.
Surprisingly, this is rarely occurs. Somehow, I'm almost alway up for a run. OK, we had heavy snow this week, and I did a lot of shovelling, but I struggled to get out for runs.
This was my week:
Mon: no running Tues: no running Weds: no running Thurs: 5.4 miles - town loop (53 mins) Fri: x-country skiing Sat: 8 hilly miles (1:23) Sun: 8 hilly miles, some walking in deep snow. (2 hrs)
Because of the snow, the running was a lot harder and slower. But the troubling thing was that I didn't really want to do it. It was dark out, cold, and snowy. Somehow this wasn't inviting.
My hope is that once things get back to normal next week - my children had five consecutive snow days last week - I can get back into a routine. I really should start training for the marathon in the next week or so.
The bottom line may be that I need a goal. Previously, I had a concrete one: running a sub 3:30 to qualify for Boston. Now I'm in. What's next? The obvious goal would be a personal best at the marathon, and I think that's what I might shoot for. Maybe a 3:20? I'm not sure - I don't want to set myself up for a bad race by going out too hard - particularly as Boston doesn't sound like it's that easy a course.