During my half marathon training, I never once dreaded a run. In fact, I anxiously looked forward to each and every run. Even at work I was thinking about how I couldn’t wait to get outside and stretch my legs and breathe the “fresh” air. (Considering the fact that Houston is the 4th dirtiest city for air pollution, I wouldn’t really call it ‘fresh’, unless you believe oil refinery smog and car exhaust fumes to be beneficial to one’s health.) But that was when the weather was warm…or hot. Yes, from time to time it was a bit miserable running in 104 degrees, experiencing sudden chills after running 8 or so miles and knowing full well that there was no arctic breeze on which to blame my sudden goosebumps, or being totally useless for the entire day after my saturday long run because the heat had sucked the life out of me and all I could do was lay around on the couch like a limp noodle and go to be early. In spite of those minor bumps on the road, I still never was tempted to skip a run. I LIKE the heat. I like to sweat. It’s like a badge that proves you worked hard, even if all you did was break a sweat walking from the car to the trail (which was a normal occurrence on those 100+ evenings)…no one has to know the difference. I like to have a bottle full of ice water waiting for me when I finish and driving home with the windows down, complimenting myself on how well I did. And I like that everyone else in Houston is out doing the same thing, playing in the heat, the sweat and the burning sun while enjoying life.
What I don’t like is the cold. Have I pointed that out yet? Anyway, apparently no one else in Houston likes it either because the park where I run, which is normally buzzing with activity from soccer matches to picnics to illegally feeding the squirrels and everything in between, was a ghost town today. In the middle of a Saturday afternoon it was as quiet as a graveyard. And cold. And windy. Coincidence? The only other souls out there besides my own were a couple of other runners, looking as cold and as forlorn as me, longing for those beautiful fall temperatures of 75-80 degrees that were still here just 2 weeks ago but are now a distant memory.
Now I know what will be my biggest challenge in this training. No, it won’t be trying to avoid the large piles of doggie doo strategically plopped right in my path three feet beyond the large blue park sign that reads “Cleaning up after your pets is the law. Please use these bags so clean up the mess and keep our park clean.” No, even though this is a major pain in the rear, my biggest struggle will be sticking with my training schedule and not wimping out and skipping runs because of the cold. That takes an enormous amount of willpower. Especially considering that first week of training I only ran one of four scheduled runs. Suddenly I was full of excuses and reasons why I just didn’t have the time. But I’m on it now. In the book “The Non-Runner’s Marathon” I found a bit of good psychological advice that encourages you to add “but it doesn’t matter” to the end of every excuse you try to create. “It’s 10 degrees below zero out…but it doesn’t matter! I haven’t slept in 4 days and my house burned down…but it doesn’t matter! I don’t have legs…but it doesn’t matter! I’m gonna run!!!!!”