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.