Friday, May 23, 2014

Why do you run?

When I tell people I run, I get a lot of responses.  Most manage to cover their surprise quite well - after all, I'm over 200 pounds, a woman, and I don't fit the image of a runner.  A lot of the response depends on the who I'm talking to.  If it's a runner, I'll hear something like, "That's awesome."  This may or may not be followed by, "You should come running with us!"

With non-runners, I hear excuses or questions.  I'm not judging the excuses - first, running isn't for everyone; second, I've made all of those excuses myself at one time or another.  As much as I'm aware that I'm not going to convert any of these people, I've learned to shut up when I hear the excuses, or respond in a sympathetic way.  Some examples of excuses or questions I've received, how I now respond and what I'm really thinking (Yes, I'm aware it's judgmental as hell, forgive me and realize that I do not say these things, much like others did not say them to me before.)

I can't run, I have bad knees  - My response, "yeah, running can be hard on the knees."  My real thoughts - "I was a competitive curler for years.  I've had MRIs to evaluate the amount of damage I've done to my knees.  My knees crunch when I walk upstairs.  Heck, sometimes they just crunch when I'm walking.  Or when I straighten them, even while lying down.  I know from knee pain.  Need a knee brace recommendation?  I'm your girl.  Also, for curling, Robax is bloody amazing - I do not recommend this for running and you need to really research the use of NSAIDs and running and make your own decision.  Ditto muscle relaxants.  You know what has never hurt me while running?  My knees.  Oh, sure, I've had other injuries, but my knees are troopers.  Or it's possible I have no memory of life without knee pain and they really hurt and I'm in denial.  Research has actually shown that running slows (potentially stops) arthritis in the knees.  Sure, you can't just jump in and run for 6 miles, but there are plenty of learn to run programs out there that can get you from 0 to whatever distance you want with reduced injuries and much more happiness.  Do it.  You won't regret it."

What made you start running? My response, "I had this friend who ran and she often talked about half marathons and it sounded like a good way to get active."  My real thought, "Dude, look at me.  I'm fat.  I have skinny friends.  They run AND drink beer.  I want to be thin and drink beer.  Therefore: running.  Also, half marathons and medals.  I like medals and i thought half marathons might impress people.  I was wrong, but it's too late and I kind of like running.  And beer.  And medals."

Running is bad for your knees.  My response, blank stare followed by a subject change.  My thoughts, "It's not, you're an idiot and I can't even come up with a polite response to that."

I don't have time to run.  My response, "yeah, it's hard to fit it in sometimes."  My thoughts, "You probably don't, but if you start talking about Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad (or whatever the TV show du jour is) in the next five minutes, I'm pretty sure you have time to run."

You should run with us.  My response, "nah, I'd just slow you down."  My thoughts, "Nah, I'd just slow you down and be ashamed of how slow I am.  Because I'm a runner, therefore I am slow."

Why don't you do races closer to home?  My response, "I do, they just take less planning than destination races."  My thoughts, "Because then someone I know might want to run with me.  And find out how slow I am.  And judge me because I'm both fat AND slow.  Or someone I know might just see me running and be appalled.  So I'll just go do it with strangers.  Also, the local races I want to run seem to conflict with my destination run this year, which sucks. I can't run ALL THE RACES.  In a single year."

I hate running.  I don't know how you can like it.  My response, "yeah, it isn't for everyone. " My thoughts, "I used to hate running too.  Turns out I didn't understand to work myself up to running longer distances/lengths of time so it was harder than it needed to be and felt like everything hurt all the time.  I know better now and it feels great.  Most of the time.  Sort of.  I mean, for the first mile or so it can be hell.  And the last mile.  And the middle miles.  And oh my god hills.  And I'm slow so maybe I'm just more of a jogger than a runner, but whatever.  I run.  And when I'm done my run, I feel freakin' amazing.  And for about an hour, I don't shut up.  You probably should feel a bit sorry for my husband, but in all seriousness, I love running because of how it feels.  And there are days when I'm simply amazed at how far I've run.  And how consistently I do it.  And how even when a run starts out crappy, I run through it - for better or worse.  And when I'm done those runs, I feel even better than when I'm done an easy run because challenges rock.  And succeeding in a challenge where I might have once failed or given up is the best feeling ever.  It's a feeling I wish everyone could experience once."

But it's cold out.  My response, "yes, it is.  That's why there are treadmills."  My thoughts, "Yes, it is.  That's why there are treadmills."

Treadmills suck.  My response, "yes, they do."  My thoughts, "yes, they do, but the ones at my gym have TVs so I can watch ridiculous people buy houses on TV (thank you HGTV).  And they're sometimes just better than running outside on sheer ice.  Or in 2 feet of snow because apparently, even in Canada, people can't bother to break out a shovel and clear the damned sidewalk.  Also an air conditioned gym can be better than running in extreme heat, wind, thunderstorms, tornados, etc.  And they're better than not running at all."

It's too hot to run.  See "But it's cold out" and also "treadmills suck."

I used to run, when I lived in Australia for a year and lived at sea level.  Running here hurts my lungs.  My response, "you lived in Australia?  That's cool." because that's clearly the response they want.  My thoughts, "If I can run when I'm over 200 lbs, you can run.  You do hot yoga AND boot camp and you complain that running makes your lungs hurt.  Right.  I get it.  We'll stop talking about running."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Runner's need fuel

I have a bad habit of running my long runs on weekend mornings without breakfast and with only a bottle of dilute Gatorade with me.  As a new, slow runner this isn't a problem at lower mileage.  On the weekend, I did my first 5 mile run (on a treadmill, thanks spring snow) after eating an orange.  Everything was fine until mile 4-ish.  then I started slowing down and had to walk more and more.  That last 3/4 of a mile was kind of awful.

I thought that it was just because I'm getting used to running longer and further.  My husband, often smarter than I am, suggested that maybe I should try food and/or Gu before and/or during my next long run.

I'm not really a breakfast person at the best of times.  I'll choke down a bowl of oatmeal with some cinnamon and fruit because it's healthy and filling.  But I rarely take the time to do that before a run, and it seems like that may not be the best choice pre-run anyway.

So, off to the Running Room I went on Sunday morning (my local running store is further and not open on Sundays) and I came home with a variety of energy bars and gels to try out.

Now if only we could avoid getting 4+ inches of slush on Saturday mornings.  I'm still a fair weather runner and running that long on a treadmill is painful, even if I do get plenty of time to watch HGTV.

How do you fuel for long runs?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dear Hal Higdon (Thanks)

Last week I hated you.  I mean, you start out the week with strength training.  The next day I run.  And then I do cross training, followed by a day where you throw together running AND strength training.  If I survive your gauntlet of pain, I get a rest day.

Followed by a long run.

The old me (from last week) thought you were a sadistic kind of fellow.  Here's the thing, I'm fat.  I just am.  I started doing this running thing to lose weight.  And then I discovered I like it a bit so, hey, why not do something like train for a half marathon?  Which I did - not so successfully - a couple of years ago.  And in the hours after that first half marathon, I hated running.  I swore I'd never race again.  And whether or not I'd run again was also up in the air.

And then I forgot about that pain. I worked through the injuries I caused myself.  I ran a 5K or two.  And then this year came and my friends said, "hey, there's this half marathon..."

And I said, "SURE!!!!!!!!!! SIGN ME UP!"

With that in the distant future (September was a long way away), I decided to start looking for things closer to home in between and I stumbled across this race that included two of my loves - running and cinnamon buns.  Well, three of my loves actually since it is out in the country and I'm running past cows, not houses.  And I thought, "eight miles?  I can do that!"

So, off I went to the Hal Higdon site and found myself a training plan (15K/10 mile).  And I began slowly - I had more weeks between me and the race than Hal had in the training plan so I modified the plan and stretched things out.  Everything was coming up roses - I even started strength training per the schedule.

When I started strength training, I looked around for an easy, comprehensive plan that wouldn't lock me in the gym for hours.  I settled on this one that focuses on the wrong things for a runner - heavy weight, low reps.  Also, every workout includes squats.  Let me say that again - EVERY. WORKOUT. SQUATS.

It starts out easy with an empty Olympic bar and you build up every week to higher weight.  Well, last week, I finally started hitting failure on my squats.  At 90 lbs + body weight post run - it was a Thursday.

Now, the week didn't start out all that well, even though it was one of the mini tapers in the program.  Every day was a simple 2 mile run, but after Monday's strength, my legs felt like lead through the Tuesday run.  Where I'd hoped to work on speed a bit with the reduced mileage, I ended up working on trying not to lay down on the treadmill and cry instead of running.  I walked a lot that day.

The next day, determined, I hit the elliptical and put in a full 60 minutes and felt slightly better.  Then Thursday came and, well, I made some mistakes.

Going back to the "fat" thing, I'm also trying to fix my diet.  Which means eating out less - especially at lunch.  So I picked up a bunch of frozen diet lunches on sale.  On Thursday, I had oatmeal for breakfast.  Then I had a frozen meal that clocked in at <300 calories.  Five and a half hours later, I was at the gym running and lifting.  I wanted to die, but I finished those squats.

After that, I dreaded this week.  Not only was I still strength training, but my mileage would be going up a bit.  Basically every day in the week would be up a mile, giving me a 3 mile increase overall.  I modified that and went with a 2 mile increase overall, because ow.

Last night - Thursday - was run and strength.  And I dreaded it.  But I learned a bit from last week.  I supplemented my food for the day and ate more calories with some fruit, veggies and cheese.  I got to the gym and I decided to try intervals because I'm a glutton for punishment.

I finished my speed work, hit the weights and finished them successfully as well.  By the time I got home, I felt like a million bucks.

So, Mr. Higdon, thanks.  Your training plans, while sometimes painful and evil, have made me stronger.  And maybe even a little faster.  I can't wait to start the half marathon plan in June.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Do you tutu?

There's a bit of an uproar on the wonderful internet over fluffy bits of tulle.  For the record, while tutus make me smile when I'm running, I've never actually considered wearing one myself.  I do love seeing them during a race though, whether they're sported by a young girl or an adult male.  It's a sign that the wearer is having fun or at least has a fun personality, whether or not they're having fun at that exact moment is irrelevant.

In a world where we're obsessed with conformity and not standing out, I think it's pretty great that people put it out there and show who they are when they're running - whether it's with a tutu, a princess costume or as a running Elvis.  Those people are helping create memorable moments in the event, they make other runners smile and attract the attention of those on the sidelines cheering.  They're a sign that running isn't stupidly serious, that it can (and should) be fun.

If it isn't, why are you doing it?

Since beginning running, I've heard many excuses from friends about why they don't run.  I think I've even been blocked on the odd facebook page because I talk about it far too much.  What it comes down to is people don't run because they don't like it (with a handful of people having serious issues that would physically prevent them from doing it).

When I took Phys Ed, the focus was on team sports.  The only time we ran was for the fitness tests that were done periodically.  I can't tell you how much I hated that 12 minute run.  Seriously.  12 minutes was all we needed to run, but no one had ever come out and helped us train.  No one spent time talking about pace and building up distance and time slowly.  Nothing like that.  Just one day a year we'd line up and run for 12 minutes.

And it would hurt.  And people went out too fast and couldn't finish.  People felt like they were going to die. It was, after all, a "test."  You wanted to do your best.  You didn't want to be too slow.  And you had no real concept of how it felt to run for 12 minutes - especially if you went out at a sprint.

Is it any wonder people have developed a hatred for this sport?  I have people tell me all the time that they don't understand how I can WANT to run, that I choose to run for enjoyment as well as weight loss.  It's akin to torture to them.

And I try to explain that it isn't all about speed.  It's not about finishing first.  It's about challenging yourself, finding your limits and then pushing them further.  It's about time spent with friends and strangers running for cupcakes.  It's about running down the Vegas strip listening to live music.  It's about being passed by a horde of runners dressed as Elvis.  Or seeing a group of people in tutus.  It's about someone running a 10K much faster than you're running your 5K, telling you how great you're doing as they pass you.  It's about complete strangers cheering you on and holding strange and encouraging signs.

I'm a slow runner.  Maybe my view is tainted by the fact that I'll never actually win a race.  I'm holding out for that day when I'm the only runner in my age group and I win by default, but I fear that day won't come as running gains in popularity.  And I'm OK with that.

While I absolutely would point and laugh at anyone wearing a tutu to the office (except during march madness foosball tournaments, of course) I will not call someone wearing a tutu while running lame.  You've got more guts than me.  You're willing to wear your personality on your sleeve (or waist) for everyone to see, and let the haters hate.

The great thing that has come out of this is that the runner whose picture was used to call tutu'd runners lame makes and sells those same tutus, giving all proceeds from those sales to a charity that encourages girls to run.  She and her friend who make the tutus in their spare time have had to shut down their order page because they cannot keep up to the number of orders being placed.

Need a tutu? 
Just want to donate to a great charity?  Find your local Girls on the Run Chapter.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rest: Day 2

Dear Diary, I think the depression has begun to sink in.  It's been two full days since I last ran on Sunday Morning.  This morning I'm wearing an Under Armor shirt to work.  Ever  so often I stop to pet the logo, reminding myself that I am a runner.  That and coffee are the only things getting me through each day.  And Candy Crush.  Will I ever see the sun again?  Will I ever run along a river dreading every step of my long run again only to feel unreasonably elated when I finish?

The above is pretty unreasonable, right?  I mean, yeah, I can't run and knowing that makes me feel a bit like someone has stolen my favorite toy, but they're holding it there, just out of my reach so I know it's still there, but I can't actually get it.

The worst part is that I spent the latter part of last week looking at races and planning my spring schedule, but this break feels like I might have to downgrade some of the events I was considering entering - like the half marathon at the 50th Calgary Marathon (longest running race in Canada) - which is in June.   I wanted to use the next few weeks to build up my mileage a bit before deciding whether or not to go for the earlier half marathon.

In reality, I know I wasn't going to do that half.  And then I have to decide how far I want to travel to do just a 10K or if I should do something closer to home a week or two later.

Anyway, the reality is that I'm not dealing with forced rest all that well.  I'm bummed.  Thankfully there is an end in sight.  Sure, I was (unrealistically) hoping it would all be better today and I'd be left with a gigantic bruise on my elbow and endless energy for running.  Sometimes I don't get what I want, but I still have that hope for tomorrow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The importance of rest

Have you ever had ART done?  I did on Saturday morning by an awesome chiropractor who isn't remotely near me so I can't even go back regularly.  Adding to the awesome, he even direct billed my insurance company so I don't have to save the paperwork and submit on my own - which I rarely do.  I left his office feeling amazing.

You see, I have a desk job and had bad posture for about 15 years of that job.  It resulted in a twisted pelvis and a functional leg length difference.  These things weren't really a problem until I decided to start running.  Any kind of imbalance in your lower body will cause problems when you run and, as you can imagine, this particular imbalance can be rather harmful.

That afternoon, we decided to walk down to the frozen yogurt shop.  It's not a particularly far walk, but the icy sidewalks this time of year can make it somewhat hazardous.  And in an unexpected twist, I actually slipped on the ice and landed hard on my hip and elbow.

I'm quite certain this undid any good the ART did for me that morning.  The good news was my yogurt landed right side up so all was not lost.  I didn't even lose an almond or a piece of pineapple.

I did, however end up with some pretty good bruising and a need for some rest based on yesterday's run.

And that's the hard part for me.  I'm actually kind of angry at the homeowner who couldn't be bothered to even salt or sand his icy sidewalk.  Because as a runner, I don't like to rest.  From what I've seen in some online groups, this is pretty common among runners.

When we rest, we feel we aren't making progress.  Our mileage isn't increasing.  Our speed isn't increasing.  And we lose that wonderful feeling we get when we run - even if it is just some twisted sense of accomplishment after finishing a particularly difficult and painful run.

Which I felt on Sunday morning after walking and running my way through 2.5 miles on the treadmill with tight calves and a wonky stride and more anger than is really warranted toward a homeowner who couldn't be bothered to deal with the ice problem caused by the snow problem he ignored earlier in the season.

But the reality is that the fall is just helping me realize that my body was already calling for a rest.  It started in Vegas and I blamed it on all of the walking, but I started getting a shooting numbness into my left heel when walking up/down stairs, but at no other time.  Back in the gym, that continued into my running and the first ten to fifteen minutes had that shooting numbness (tingling?) at every step.

It probably had been resolved by the ART, but falling on that hip undid the good he did and it's questionable whether or not it would've been effective beyond a run or two.

Continuing to run is clearly not the answer.  I'll take a couple of days of active rest, although what the "active" part of that entails I don't know yet.  I'll see if I can get in for a massage or some more ART.

And in the meantime, I'm going to be frustrated and upset by my lack of running.  I'll be sad that my mileage for the week is low and I'll be bummed when I fall in my Fitbit group standings (I WAS IN SECOND PLACE BEFORE THIS!)

Who knew that resting could feel this awful even when I know it's something I need to do?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Back from Vegas

"You aren't having fun if you ain't running!"

We were walking down the Las Vegas strip in the early evening when we were passed by a guy running (while not spilling a drop of the beer he carried) down the strip.  When I smiled at him he said some version of the above quote.  It's Vegas, I may be able to direct myself to any part of the strip with very little thought, my memory for actual events may be shorter term.  Blame the vodka.

This trip to Vegas was educational for me.  We went with friends (I should probably clarify that they're my husband's friends since I'm sure they want no affiliation to me after this weekend) who used to work out, but didn't seem to change their diets or once they stopped working out resumed old habits.

We had the breakfast buffet every morning.  The first morning, post run, I was a bit hungry so I probably ate too much.  I filled my first place (not heaping) and went to the dessert bar.  My friends ate two full (and heaping) plates and hit the dessert bar.

Each day at the buffet, I ate less than the day before, choosing healthier options each time.  While it wasn't my choice to hit the buffet, I'd lost 5 lbs between Christmas and the trip and I saw no point in losing ground, right?

The problem for me was I wasn't with similar-minded people.  They stuffed themselves at breakfast with high-fat, high-carb foods then wanted to eat junk food around 3pm because they didn't have lunch.  Then dinner was another high fat event.

I learned on the first day that would not work for me.  I don't eat like that anymore and my stomach revolted - this came as a complete surprise to me.  Then I tried to remember the last time I had french fries.  I can't.

My husband's friends, after hearing about the fitness center (fruit, water, towels, headsets provided) demanded we bring them a banana.  Ok, whatever.  I brought them a banana and they didn't even bother taking it so I think they were just trying to prove that we weren't going or we were lying about the amenities provided?  Basically, they thought we were ridiculous for paying the optional resort fee to use wi-fi and the fitness center.

I don't really care.  I thought they were high maintenance for requesting a different table EVERY time we walked into a restaurant.  The difference is, I came out and said it (thus why they may not want to call me a friend) one morning.  I also think they were jerks for using our wi-fi, the car we rented and not even buying my husband a drink on his birthday.  They did chip in $30 for gas though...


Here's what I learned in Vegas.

1.  I love running.  I ran a couple of times before breakfast and my husband also hit the gym at the same time.  It gave me so much energy for the day and for some reason walking the strip all day (33,000 steps in one day) didn't hurt at all - even after running.

2.  I don't binge anymore.  Overeating was painful and most meals I was unable to clean my plate.

3.  I love my alone time.  Likely due to my outburst calling my husband's friends high maintenance.  I got some "me" time.  To be fair, it was the plan before we left as my husband wanted to go to a gun range.  I have no problem with guns, but it's not something I cared to do - especially at tourist prices.  My plan was always to hang out by the pool with a book while they did that and the weather was good enough for that.  I did forget 1/2 of my swimsuit so I replaced that plan with finding my favorite bakery in the Venetian and indulging in some macarons.

4.  I feel like crap when I eat crappy foods.  Also when I skip meals.

5.  Vodka and water is just a better drink than pretty much anything else.  Mixed drinks now taste too heavy and syrupy for me.

6.  Even on a buffet, you can find fruit, steel cut oats and other healthy options.  But that doesn't mean you have to skip the bacon.  Just don't eat a PLATE of bacon.

7.  My eating habits have changed significantly over time.  It didn't happen all at once, but it has happened.  I didn't realize how much they'd changed until I watched my husband's friends eat like I used to.  And it made me feel ill.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I'm not sure what I'm happier about

Last night, I began one of my New Year's goals - I added a fourth run to my week.  Not that I ran far, I am trying to gradually (mostly) increase my mileage as is recommended, so adding another run is going to be a bit of a balancing act.

I ran a simple mile and then walked the rest of my workout.  I don't often run just a mile.  Maybe I should more often, because there is so much made of your mile pace in training.  Sure, I can use my last 5K race time, but you can also find information about training around your pace for a single mile.  Until last night, I didn't actually know what that was.

Now I know I can currently run a mile in fifteen minutes.

Not all that impressive when you look at other mile times, but for me, it represents some huge gains in the past few months - when running fifteen minutes straight seemed like the hardest thing I'd ever do at any pace.

The other thing that I'm pretty darned excited about is the scale this morning.  My husband and I set some goals for after Christmas and today was one of the first short term measuring points.

I've lost five pounds since Christmas Day.  Which means I now have to actually figure out what my reward for attaining that goal is.

So, I'm up to running four days a week (assuming I get my run in on Saturday which I will).  I'm running faster.  And that work is paying off on the scale.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On weight loss, speed and races.

When I was home over Christmas, I went for a run twice.  Once on Christmas morning and then again two days later.  When I returned from the second run, I immediately walked downtown with my parents to do a little shopping.  Note to self: in the future, inform the husband of decisions like this so he isn't driving around looking for me dead in a ditch...

My parents are both proud and baffled by my running.  Mom proudly and loudly) announced to a lady at the grocery store that I'm a marathon runner.  To which I immediately cleared up any misconception by saying, "HALF, HALF marathon!"

I was worried that people would look at my size and think to themselves that I'm delusional.  Because a half marathon is obviously so much more friendly to the overweight in the population.

Dad made a few comments about not understanding running.  He really doesn't understand how/why I do this and no matter what I told him to try to justify my love of running (even in the cold and the snow.  even on Christmas morning), he didn't get it.

Meanwhile, I know how running makes me feel.  I know that I started this to lose weight, not expecting to love it.  Instead, I loved it and didn't lose weight - which is quite common, the internet informs me.

And so, after a few years of working on regularly running a relatively short distance  injury-free, this year I realize I need to focus on other things.  Like proper weight loss (oh man am I hungry right now), as well as running further and faster.

I have one big goal this year - a half marathon with friends in September.  My entire year is a build up to that, to this event that came out of casually asking an online running friend about training for a half marathon - before I'd even ran a single step.  When I still believed I'd hate running.  (If that isn't crazy...)

In between then and now, several other online friends have also started running (and a cousin!) and this crazy plan was hatched for all of us, along with various additional friends and family members, would run a half marathon.  The same half marathon, at the same time, but obviously varying speeds.  I want this to be a PR for me - and given my performance in my first half marathon, that isn't much of a challenge.

But this half marathon has a pace restriction.  I have to maintain a (relatively easy) pace of 15 min/mile.  A "simple" 4 mph over 13.1 miles.  Yes.  That will be a PR for me - in my defense, I ran (walked, really) my first one with some injuries.

I've spent a bit of time this week (ok, this morning) eyeballing my race schedule for the spring/summer.  I have a couple of must-do races that I enjoyed last year as 5Ks, and then the tough part - deciding when I'll be ready to step it up to longer distances - finishing that 10K, for example.  It's always reassuring to finish a race knowing you won't be last across that finish line - some 10K participant is coming in after you at the very least!

So distance is a factor as I know I'm going to have to start working my way up to that 13.1 mile distance.  But in addition to that, I'm going to have to work on speed.

When I talk of speed, I have to address a significant factor that is holding me back from getting faster (and running further, really) - my weight.  So long as I'm overweight, my speed will be hindered by that as much as from a lack of training.

I don't want to frame this as a New Year's resolution, even if it is that time of year.  This isn't something I want to focus on for the New Year, even if a new year is a perfectly fine time to start making changes.  That makes it a bit hard to state an actual goal here, thanks to the proximity of the New Year.  So I'm going to look at my race schedule for the year.

Mar - One 5K race.
May - 9.11K race
June - 10K and either an 8 mile hilly race OR a second 10K
Sept - 1/2 marathon @ 15min/mile pace.

There are two additional races I want to participate in that do not have dates set as yet.  Based on last year, one will be in July, the other in August and I haven't decided yet whether I'll run them as 5 or 10K events.

And, in no way related to the new year, I have a goal to lose about forty pounds between now and that 1/2 marathon.

*nods* That's do-able, right?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Do you snowshoe?

I'm desperately in need of some good cross-training options.  Sure, I know I can go to the gym and hit the bike or the elliptical or even just walk on the treadmill, but I get there and I just want to run.  I know I'd get more benefit from doing other activities, but I do live in Canada and this time of year it isn't always pleasant or easy to do things in the great outdoors.

Yes, I know there are still people biking to work in this weather.  I applaud them, but nothing about biking in snow, slush and ice makes me think happy thoughts.

Yesterday, I went snowshoeing with my husband and some friends.  I was afraid it would suck - mainly because I've wanted to try it for so long.  My rental snowshoes were too small for my size so I sunk in the snow.  One of our friends knocked me over and I ended up covered in snow - which then resulted in me being slightly cold for the rest of the walk.  And our dog decided it was a great day to not listen at the off-leash park so we looked like those dog owners.

Yes.  We snowshoe'd at a dog park.  It's basically a big open field with a path around the outside and a bunch of pristine snow in the middle so it was a perfect place to try out a new bit of exercise AND the dogs got some exercise as well - they do love bounding through the deep snow.

I even did a little jog in the rental 'shoes and felt like it might be something I could get behind at some point.  They do make running snowshoes that are narrower and a slightly different shape to make it easier to run well in them.

It looks like we'll be buying some snowshoes in the coming months. If you haven't tried it, you might want to give it a shot.  And no matter how nice the day appears to be, dress appropriately.  My legs got a bit cold even with a pair of running tights under my jeans - a combination that's often warm enough for a walk in some of our warmer winter temps (around freezing).