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If you can fill the unforgiving minute ... with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run ... Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.
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Monthly Archives: January 2011
I came down with a cold on Monday. Fortunately, it seems to have been just a plain old regular head cold. But I felt bad enough to bag this week's long run. I started to feel better yesterday, but today's run felt hard so I guess I have some residual tiredness from the cold. I am hoping to feel well enough to run 20 on Friday of this upcoming week.
I haven't had a run in weeks where I didn't need to wear my screw shoes. My legs are tired and sore from slogging through the snow and slipping over ice patches. And, it's been really, really cold on top of it. I don't think we've had a day over 35 degrees in weeks and most days it's been in the 20s for a high.
A lot of people debate which is worse -- summer or winter. Summer running can certainly be miserable and disgusting with high dewpoints and all, but I definitely choose winter as worse. Straight up cold I can take, but all of this snow and ice is for the birds.
Luckily, it seems to just be a garden-variety head cold. The last cold I had (back in April 2010) developed into pneumonia, though, so I am not taking any chances. I didn't do my usual long run today and I probably won't run long this week.
I figured this might be a good time to look at a question new runners ask a lot -- can I run when I am sick? Based on my own lay experience over the years, this is my take.
The neck rule is a good general rule. The "neck rule" says if your symptoms are above your neck (i.e. congestion, headache, sore throat), it's probably ok to run. If the symptoms are below your neck (i.e. you have a cough, gastrointestinal symptoms) or you have systemic symptoms (such as a fever, muscle aches, etc.) it's not a good idea to run.
I've found running easy with a head cold like I have right now can actually be helpful because it shakes loose some of the junk from my sinuses. However, if it makes you feel worse, you don't want to run. You also don't want to run hard even when you just have a mild cold -- your body needs the energy to fight the cold, and you don't want to have a mild cold turn into a full blown case of bronchitis, or worse pneumonia!
It is not a good idea to run with a cough. OK, if you're sure your cough is related to something like post nasal drip, it's probably ok to run, but generally speaking, every time I've tried to run through a cough, I've ended up with bronchitis or something worse like last April's walking pneumonia. Now granted, my lungs aren't the best because I had chemo, but even when I didn't have lung damage with chemo, I found running with a cough would lengthen the illness. Use caution if you suspect you've caught a chest cold.
It is always a bad idea to run with the flu. Dr. Noakes' giant reference book Lore of Running points out that a really severe infection like the flu can actually attack your muscles -- that's what causes those really severe muscle aches during the flu. But the scary part is one of the muscles that it can attack is your heart -- and the temporary damage from the attack has been linked with sudden cardiac death. That's why he recommends never running with the flu and urges caution in racing in the weeks after you have had the flu. I have a hunch that some of the otherwise explained cardiac-related deaths that occasionally occur in races may be linked to this phenomenon, and I would use extreme caution when running after the flu.
Taking Time Off -- How Much Fitness Do I Lose?
Another common question is if I take a day off, do I lose all my hard won fitness? No, you don't lose fitness quite that fast. According to the chart in Jack Daniels' book Running Formula, you lose no measurable fitness by taking up to five days off. After five days you start to lose fitness in small amounts. It takes about seven weeks or so to lose your fitness entirely.
As someone who runs every day, I've occasionally found after taking a couple days off in a row, my first run back is sluggish and sort of stiff. After I get past the initial sluggishness, however, I find I frequently run BETTER because my body has used the time off to rebuild and recover and get stronger.
Always Remember: Flexibility is a good trait for a runner to have!
If you are training for a specific race it can be hard to deviate from your training schedule, but being flexible is a really good trait for a runner to have. Sometimes being disciplined and flexible enough to take a day or two or even three off now will save you from a much longer lay off -- that goes for injuries and illnesses alike. And like I said, sometimes a few days off can recharge your batteries and result in better running.
Happy cold and flu free running!
It's me Jenny. I know we haven't really spoken very much since the whole Hodgkin's thing ... and then of course, there has been this recurrent pseduotumor thing going on with my eye for the last year ... But you know, this hardcore runner stuck on the frozen tundra of Cleveland just had to break her silence today ...
What occasioned my breaking the silence was reading my good friend Bob's latest entry in his running blog. After reading Bob's post about the dangers inherent with being a male runner in frigid Cleveland, well, God, I had to come here and tell you thank you for two things:
1. Thank you for making me a runner GIRL rather than a runner GUY;
2. Thank you for sparing me from seeing Bob and his, um, newspaper during my run today.
I like to run outside if at all possible, but I woke up Wednesday morning to freezing rain that had turned the sidewalks and road into an ice skating rink. I tried to jog up to the top of my street and could tell that even with screws in my shoes, the run would be incredibly dangerous to complete. So discretion being the better part of valor, I opted to go home, change, and run inside on the treadmill.
Friday remains my long run day and this week I did almost 19 miles. We got about 4.5" of snow on Thursday night and it was bitterly cold Friday morning; the temp was 15 with gusts from the west to 30 mph bringing the windchill well below zero. I don't know that if I have ever had a more miserable winter run. I mean, I'm sure I have because I've been running so long, but this run had to be close. My chest ached (the scar tissue in my chest really does not like bitterly cold weather), my fingers hurt, the wind felt like running into a wall and it tore right through me despite having on two shirts and my windbreaker, and the darned snow was heavy and difficult to slog through. I decided to give up after 5.5 miles. I then came home, changed, and went over to the gym and ran for just over two hours to log 18.8 miles for the day.
Saturday and Sunday I ran outside -- and it was darned cold. Saturday it was -1 to start and felt like -14. Brrr. Today was a little bit better -- 12 above feels like -2. I was fine during both runs except for my quads. Despite wearing a pair of tights underneath my running pants, my quads were uncomfortably cold when I ran into the wind.
It was a high mileage week for me -- and my legs feel the effort of all that slipping and sliding over the snow. And as far as I'm concerned, spring can't come soon enough. Tonight it's supposed to go down to 6 so I am sure with the windchill it will be well below zero for the "feels like" temp. What a great way to start week four ...
Week Three Mileage
OK, so someone sent me an email asking about how we Buckeyes run over ice and snow. Once I got over the shock that someone other than my mom actually reads my blog (haha), I decided to post a response.
My New Balance 758s with a set of Ice Spikes. Snow tires for your feet!
Running packed snow isn't too bad -- actually it provides a good cushion. But sometimes, you have to wade through deeper snow. I don't mind the packed snow, but deep snow will usually drive me into the road to run because all you do is slip (think running through loose sand). Because I run in the early morning, I wear a headlamp and a bright yellow reflective jacket. I also run facing traffic so if necessary I can bail out of the way of any cars that refuse to provide me a safe space.
I run slower in the snow ... Usually a minute or more slower per mile.
For traction over the snow and ice, I use "screw shoes." Basically, here's what you need to make your own:
- A power drill.
- Some 3/8th inch sheet metal screws with hex heads (pan heads are worthless; you need the "lip" of the hex head to grip the snow/ice).
- A pair of running shoes you are willing to sacrifice as your "outdoor" shoes.
And then follow the directions here: Making Screw Shoes.
Another, but more expensive, option is a new product I tried last year and have continued using this year called Ice Spikes. I like these because they tend to stay in my shoes (I used to throw regular screws all the time and I've never lost an Ice Spike) and they tend to last longer. However, they are much more expensive than regular hardware store screws. I like that they stay in my shoe and last longer (hence I don't have to go back and re-do shoes all the time), so I went with them again this winter.
Why do I prefer screw shoes to Yak Trax or Stabilicers? I prefer the screws because they add the least amount of bulk and weight to my shoe. If you are unwilling or unable to sacrifice a pair of shoes to make into screw shoes, however, an over-the-shoe option like Stabilicers is definitely worth looking into. I have used both of the two aforementioned products, and I prefer Stabilicers as being more useful for running over snow and ice. I recommend you get the "sport" version.
(Oh and one piece of advice: DO NOT WALK INDOORS WITH SCREWS IN YOUR SHOES!)