Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Well last week was more sporadic than I'd have liked, thanks mostly to the weather. Freakshow cold out there. On Tuesday I was scheduled for 4.5 miles, and I just couldn't cope with the thought of treading through that on the dreadmill. iPod or no, it's insanely boring, and it takes all the fun right out of running. And to a large extent the damn treadmill does much of the work for you - an entire function of running is the push-off from the back foot, propelling you forward. On a treadmill this function is illusionary, if not lost entirely - you just stand there. Puke. 3 miles or less and I can suffer through it, but any more than that and all the fun is taken right out of it for me. All of this makes it difficult when it's as asstacularly cold as it was last week. Tuesday I bundled up and went out for my run, which takes more time to dress and prepare than it does to actually workout, but I never regret the effort it takes to make the effort. The rest of the week, however, I was relegated to the treadmill, and I think (Mike) that there is a direct relationship between my unenthusiasm for treadmill training and my blog entries - if I'm not having fun, and not enjoying the process, then I have little to say, I guess. It was especially frustrating in that on Sunday I was supposed to have a 10k "race" - 6 miles as fast as is sensible. These workouts are valuable because, besides providing feedback on what kind of times I'm achieving at this point in training, prolonged running at a higher heart rate will act to push the AT up. All good. But I'll be damned if I'm faking something like that on a treadmill - it would be almost wholly useless from any perspective. I'm sure braver souls out there found a way to make a productive run out of such a cold environment, but for me it defeated the purpose - running when it's that extremely cold takes a lot out of the purpose of a "time-trial" run. So anyway, I delayed the "race" until today (Tuesday), so we'll see how that goes tonight.

In the meantime, I have been getting some solid miles in in the pool, working on a lot of drills and form and technique. I'm staying away from hard training in the pool until early April - which is really hard for me to do, actually - but I don't want to peak too early or burnout, which I tend to do in mid-late summer if I start too early. So mentally, I tell myself that I'm just going to go enjoy a swim, although really I'm being very intentional about my workouts there, in the hopes that when I do actually hit the pool, I'll be in great shape to get in great shape. It's a mind trick. I don't want myself to know I've been swimming. So if you see me, keep it a secret.


Michael Anderson said...

You've talked a little about what happens in extreme heat before, but how does the cold affect an outside workout or competition? Other than the extra prep time (which I wouldn't think is insignificant): Is it harder to warm up? More difficult to breath in the cold air? More difficult due to the out-of-the-ordinary gear you need to compensate for temperature? Sometimes you intentionally manipulate the environment against you when you work out so that your workout is more challenging, such as when you wear clothing with more drag in the pool, or bike in the rain; is there any beneficial challenge to training in the exteme cold? Is it even possible to safely workout for a triathlon in subzero windchill? Or is it a whole different realm of competition? Just curious about the arctic end of the exteme weather here. Maybe you and Jack and JoJo should sled-dog train those days.

xt4 said...

Winter cold - 20's and 30's - aren't a huge deal. After about half a mile you get warm and comfortable. Extreme cold, like we had, is tough. The exposed skin presents problems, especially with a wind chill, and it gets unsafe. So I bundle way up with my Under Armour face mask that makes me look like Cobra in G.I. Joe, but with tight material covering the nose and mouth, I end up spending a lot of energy just trying to breath comfortably, and I'm never really able to get into a nice breathing rhythm. All the extra gear adds minimally noticeable weight/resistance/etc., but that's not a major issue - my range of motion remains mostly fine. It's mostly an issue of being so extremly uncomfortable that I can't attend to the import things in training - breathing, pacing, control. It becomes just about putting miles in. Which is fine, and there's a place for it, but not outside, not when it's that cold, not for me. There's almost no other value to my training in the extreme cold; it's important to acclimate and get familiar with heat-training, because I'll frequently race in the heat. Humidity. Wind. Rain. All things that are realistic potentials on race-day. -2 with -17 windchill, not so much. You know it's too cold when: the condensation on your sunglasses freezes them to your forehead. And when the liquid crystal in your LCD wrist computer starts to freeze so that it runs sluggishly and slowly. It's then that you wonder what the hell you're doing here. There is a subtle, but not unimportant, psychological advantage in putting myself through that artic atmosphere, and that's just general toughness - Ironman isn't easy, and training for it shouldn't be easy, either. I have no problem suffering, or going through something unpleasant to get stronger. But that kind of cold...it's just stupid, really.

RunIrisRun said...

Mike, I think the benefit is that for some, ANYTHING is better than the dreadmill. It does depend on one's perpective. I happen to like running in cold weather - the colder the better. I think that was me out there two winters ago in -15 degree windchill? I've also been known to run in ice storms. I came back one day with little cuts all over my face from ice chips. Steve thought I'd been attacked by a tree... It's the heat and humidity that I personally absolutely just can't do. Maybe I like the cold because I started running during a cold Montana winter????

xt4 said...

(Scene opens on a dark road, in the middle of a wintry ice storm. A car's headlights cut through the fog, illuminating the silhouette of a runner)

Iris: (under her breath, to passing car that just splashed her with muck). Thanks, asswipe.

(She continues, we hear only the sound of her breathing in the midst of the wind and snow. Then, in the shadows next to the road, we see an odd, shadowy movement, contrary to the wind).

(Cue ominous music)

(Side profile shot of Iris running. She's blinking her eyes, shielding from the oncoming wind and ice. The shot is gloomy and dark. Slowly the camera pans around to a front view of her. It's then that we see she's being chased. By a tree.)

(The tree gains. Iris is unaware and oblivious. She starts singing "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna, which she tends to do when running, but she'd never tell anyone.)

(The tree, directly behind her now, reaches out a single creaking branch. Alerted, Iris suddenly stops and curiously peers behind her. The tree, in perfect unison, also stops.)

Iris: (scratching head) Huh. That's funny. I thought I heard something behind me. But there's only this odd, single tree right here in the middle of the sidewalk where I just ran. Funny I didn't notice it before. (shrugs shoulders). Oh well.

(She turns to continue running, and the tree continues as well. The scene becomes illuminated by an oncoming car. Through its headlights we can clearly see the villainous deciduous behind Iris, who is thoughtlessly running along, now humming "Like A Virgin". The lights get brighter as the tree gets closer, now reaching out a limp to her neck. As the car passes, we see its driver gesturing hysterically to Iris in warning of her impending doom. Iris is unaware for the ice and snow and darkness and Madonna. Finally, suddenly, the tree strikes.)

Iris: (entangled in the nasty grasp of a tree limb around her thoat) What the hell?! (sounds of fighting) Where the...! (we can only make out shadowy struggle. Music cues are hysterical.) How the...Ooomph! (muffled shouts, wooden creaks...)...Crap!...Ouch!...Dammit!...Sonofa!...

(suddenly, stillness. Single drone music cue. For several breathless moments, we see only a hunk of spindly, spidery shadow. We hear nothing but the wind. The ice screams, almost horizontally, into the mass. All appears lost.)

(Then, tiny movement.)

(Moments pass. Another movement.)

(A tree limb shakes. It quivers, then is still. Finally, we see a form rise against the snowy backdrop. We can't be sure, until she takes two steps backwards, away from the mass. It is Iris, triumphant.)

Iris: (brushing herself off) Well. THAT was weird. (She turns to resume running, then suddenly stops and turns back to the groaning, twisted mass behind her). Hey.

(music cue stops - this is the signature line, the one that will be on all the T-shirts)

Why don't you just make like a tree and leave.

(She chuckles to herself, turns around, and resumes her run. A car cruises by and Iris, relaxed, waves. We pan behind her, watching her form shrink smaller and smaller as she runs into the distance until she disappears. We hear her sing, softly, "Crazy For You" as scene fades to black.)

The End.

Michael Anderson said...

...I think Chris was driving the car that drove by and gestured hysterically to Iris. Notice he didn't stop to help - Heaven forbid he should step outside in the cold, even to stop a dangerous deciduous.

Where do I order my T-shirt?

Iris, what does one wear to withstand -15 windchills and icestorms? I can't picture anything but layers of parkas and clunky boots to make that tolerable. Or is it just sheer determination?

xt4 said...

The secret to extreme-cold comfort (I know from my own limited experience)...an insulating thong. Fashionable and functional, it keeps things toasty but, more importantly, warms the soul.

RunIrisRun said...

Chris-I see that your "business" is just a facade to hide the inner dreams of professional writing. Where are the illustrations? Shall I contact Harlequin - maybe there's a romance hidden there as well?

Mike-long underwear and fleece!

Michael Anderson said...

Fleece: Is there anything it can't do? Good stuff.

Under Armour is great stuff to wear too. Though I'm not one to vouch for it's performace in anything extreme, it's really comfy in everyday situations too.

Cheers! to soul-warming, storm resisting, tree rebuffing wonder fibers.