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Ice, ice, baby

As I was running over snow packed on top of crunchy ice (at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning, no less), I looked at the people in my running group and realized that this must be what it’s like to join a cult. Each task is just slightly crazier than the next. That way you don’t notice the escalation of madness by comparison. First they convince you to jog in sub-freezing temperatures. Then they get you to run on ice that could cause you to slip and break your neck. Eventually they’ll have me wearing black robes, holding a knife in front of an alter made out of shoe boxes, asking, “Don’t you want to kill the mongoose? Only its sacrificial blood can cure your plantar fasciitis.” Exactly what are they putting in that post-workout Gatorade?

Surprisingly, I enjoyed running in the snow and ice. The ice prevented me from running too fast, which helped me get through the 40 minute run this week, the longest I’ve run since September. I probably would have felt differently if I’d fallen, cut the side of my face and started bleeding like the man in the group ahead of me. Ironically, after our run there was a seminar on injury prevention. Forty minutes too late in this case.

The injury prevention seminar was led by a doctor/runner who specializes in running injuries. He said the most common reasons people get injured is because of poor shoes and increasing mileage too quickly. I sat on the floor of the running store and nodded. Yep and yep. Learned that the hard way. I think part of the reason my left foot was hurting two weeks ago was because both my running shoes and my day-to-day shoes were old and worn out. He said running shoes only last for 300-400 miles, which is why it’s important to track your mileage. (I use the Runner’s World training log.) Even though a shoe might still look fine, after that distance the midsole is worn out and can cause injury. I bought new shoes last week and I’m taking care to listen to my body and not overtrain.

In the question session I raised my hand and asked what the best cross-training exercises were to prevent running injuries. The doctor said anything that increases core strength is great. (Thank you, Pilates!) He also said cycling and swimming are good because they increase your heart rate but don’t pound your feet and legs like running, giving them a chance to rest and heal. Spinning class, here I come!

I have not been neglecting my promise to meet at least two new people each week either. After the run and before the seminar, I chatted with a woman who had a cute Snoopy key chain. I also told a guy who was eating a banana that he was well prepared. During the run I passed someone going a little slower than me and said, “Hi!” Surely that counts, too? Sorry, this extroverted stuff does not come naturally to me. Yelling “Hi!” to someone on the trail is a big step for me. It’s hard for me to come up with a good conversation starter, which is why I was grateful for that woman’s key chain. After that initial back and forth it can be even harder to keep the conversation going. Sometimes it just lies there like a dead mongoose.

The best thing about running in the morning is that I had a happy buzz later in the day. It might have been the sunshine or the slightly warmer temperatures, but it was good whatever it was. I’m wondering if part of the reason I sometimes come home and want to eat five bowls of oatmeal is because I haven’t exercised all day and there are no happy chemicals in my brain. I’m going to experiment with exercising earlier in the day and see if that helps.

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Heather • February 4, 2008 at 8:05 am

Awesome post!

I had a hard time showing up at a running group because I didn’t know anyone — very introverted, and very shy here. Bad combo. :)

I’m still laughing about the cult thing. Welcome to running! :D


Comrade GoGo • February 4, 2008 at 9:08 am

I have trouble doing that meet-new-people thing, too. I find myself staring sullenly into space at my Weight Watchers meetings, instead of swapping recipe tips. Sullen, sulky GoGo. Not good.

So, good for you for breaking the ice at your running group! (Not literally, hah hah.)


jenny • February 4, 2008 at 9:59 am

Wow, running in snow and ice. That does show dedication, and yes, maybe even cult-like tendencies. Kidding aside, I loved my running group because I would never do that alone! I’m a morning exerciser, I get up between 4:45 and 5:15 most mornings and head to the gym. I like it because its less crowded, I always get the machines I want, and it gives me energy throughout the day. I always feel better when I exercise first thing. I eat healthier too. Oh and its out of the way so I can come home at night and do whatever. Saturdays and Sundays I usually sleep in until about 7ish. If I skipped a day during the week, I go then. Its a schedule that works for me, but I also go to bed by 10.

Go PQ!!!


Vivian • February 4, 2008 at 10:03 am

There is nothing like writing 6km in the training log at 7AM!!! A friend and I meet at 6am-rain, shine,snow and yes, even minus 20 degrees doesn’t stop us! It is tough when it is dark and that cold, but we imagine how we will be complaining when it it too hot!


MaryK • February 4, 2008 at 10:37 am

My favorite part of this post is how you opened and closed with the mongoose! You crack me up!


Melsky • February 4, 2008 at 11:12 am

I have a hard time meeting people in groups like that too, and I do the same thing – give myself an assignment to talk to a certain number of strangers.

I can’t imagine running on ice! One of the things that scares me about walking in Syracuse at this time of year is falling and then getting injured and not being able to exercise. I really wish we would get a decent snow cover so I could cross country ski, my favorite form of cold weather exercise.


Migraineur • February 4, 2008 at 11:27 am

If the spinning classes at your gym are anything like the ones at mine, bring industrial quality ear protection. You know, the kind that people wear on the airstrip. The music is painfully loud! I have complained so many times, pleaded, begged, wheedled, and just plain asked if they could have a quiet spin class for, you know, grownups. I don’t see how an activity is truly good for my health if it puts my hearing in jeopardy.


Sonya • February 4, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Congrats on staying with the new cult. I heard they start out with much smaller animals before working their way up to the mongoose so you may be safe for a little while longer.

When I can drag my arse out of bed dark and early to work out I find the rest of the day zooms by pleasantly by. Not all that many people have something so important checked off the “to do” list that early in the day.

Science Daily may contain a new way to treat that plantar faciitis: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080201141205.htm


Dyan • February 4, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Have you seen the Kangoo workout?

It’s supposed to be really great, like burning 100 calories every 10 minutes.

Here’s the link:


I saw it this morning on the news and it made me think of you!

PQ – Heh, those look rather ridiculous.


Janice Bridge • February 4, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Yes! Definitely!! The happy chemicals in the brain are one of the best side effects of exercise. You can probably track them at least three times following the experience – within the first 30 minutes; post by 2 hours; and post by 4 hours.

Many of us who are on a sleep cycle that is roughly 11 pm to 6 am; and a work/awake cycle that is roughly 7 am to 5 pm; experience a depressed/hungry/craving period between 4 pm and 6 pm. IF YOU CAN fit in even 20 minutes of brisk exercise during your ‘down cycle’ you will feel much much much better


MamaMaven • February 4, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Gotta love that happy stuff. Running in the cold is hard but I really feel like I’ve accomplished something when I am done!


Sally Parrott Ashbrook • February 4, 2008 at 2:15 pm

PQ, I AM extroverted, and even so, when I went out to places where I was going to meet new people, I used to write a list of topics I could bring up to discuss with them beforehand.


Rah • February 4, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Always-good conversation starter: ask for advice. (“I’m relatively new at this–do you have any pet hints about running?”)

I fell on my arse on ice a couple of weeks ago. Just walking, not running. And wearing boots with deep tread. My first reaction was to look around and see if anyone saw me go down. The second reaction was “Oh thank God it’s this year and not last, because this year I can get up off the ground easily.” :-)


Stephanie Quilao • February 4, 2008 at 6:51 pm

I find that when I exercise in the morning, I can stick with it in the long term. When I exercise at night or after work, it’s way to easy to start making excuses and skipping. When you do it in the morning, it’s outta the way and done. Plus, it’s a real healthy way to start the day.

The running guy was totally right on injuries. My first injuries were due to wrong shoes and upping milage too fast. I’m a pronater and was wearing shoes for supanators. Good rule of thumb is to increase weekly milage or time by no more than 10%. It really is helpful.


Anonymous Boxer • February 5, 2008 at 12:56 am

“Hi” constitutes as meeting someone, yes.

Keep it going.


vickie • February 5, 2008 at 6:45 am

didn’t read all the comments – so someone might have already mentioned this – they make spikes for the bottom of your regular running shoes – they slip around your shoes and then give you built in, even traction – they work GREAT!!! I think any of the (big) sports stores carry them. they last a long time – as long as you keep both of them together – I speak from experience – ONE doesn’t do much good without the other (lost one). . .


K • February 5, 2008 at 10:56 am

Nooooo! Do not want! I have plantar fasciitis, and I’m definitely not killing any mongoose. I’ll stick with the exercises.

I went for a jog/walk in the only snow we’ve had this year (well, the only snow that didn’t melt as soon as it touched the ground). It is rather enjoyable in its way, and the traction isn’t as bad as you’d think, at least while the snow’s relatively fresh and making that polystyrene-like crunching noise under your feet.

Admittedly, snow in southern Scotland has a novelty value which it probably doesn’t in colder parts… so you get full credit for running in it, cult or no cult.

(When you get to the mongoose part, though, let us know and we’ll come and break you out of there!)


kenfromco • February 5, 2008 at 3:35 pm

I adore running in the morning, specially in winter. It is just a source of power!


Mary • February 5, 2008 at 5:16 pm

One word for running in the winter on ice — YakTrax.

Fabulous. My dad sent me a pair when he got a look at the black eye I earned from falling on the ice while running (hey, I did a faceplant to save the knee and ran another 7 miles after the fall). I thought they would be awful, but they work very well and are surprisingly unobtrusive, especially when you are running on ice or snow. I too love running on a winter morning.


z. • February 7, 2008 at 11:04 am

Hilarious post! And inspiring (as always).


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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