Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Will Run for Pizza

My second 5k of the year is behind me. It's been a tough winter for runners -- especially if you have an intense dislike for treadmills like I do. We've had more than 77 inches of snow and seemingly infinite subzero days, which meant the snow just kept piling up. Here it is, past mid-March, and sidewalks have just begun to reappear from snowbanks. It's hard to believe that two years ago -- my first year in Chicago for St. Patrick's Day -- we were on the Chicago Riverwalk in short-sleeved shirts. This year, I ran a 5k in a sweatshirt, Smartwool socks, gloves and a headband. 

Despite not running much this winter -- maybe once a week if I was lucky -- I managed to get a personal best in Saturday's 5k. The secret sauce? Two things: a combination of mental trickery and cross-training. First, I know I can run 3.1 miles. Sure, it might be painful, depending on the running surface and how my body feels that particular day. Second, I've been cross-training a lot more this year. Running is hard on your joints. 

I don't always feel great (some days are better than others), but I do something every day. A broad range of activities keeps things interesting! I do yoga once a week, plus swimming, workouts on the elliptical, walking the dog (anyone who 'walks' an Australian cattle dog in the city knows this means a pretty brisk pace!) and strength training. When the weather was clear and it wasn't too icy, I'd run in a nearby park with Baxter or (if I wanted to be alone) at the Morton Arboretum. A couple times, I banged out interval workouts on the dreadmill treadmill. 

And somehow, I got faster. Not fast like a six-minute-mile, but I cut down my time and wasn't exhausted when I finished. Plus, I didn't get a migraine after the 5k, which was like hitting the jackpot. I've found that chugging water with electrolytes before & after runs makes a big difference in keeping the migraines away. I'm a big fan of Nuun electrolytes and keep a tube of the tablets in my gym bag and in the car. They're really portable and can be thrown in a bottle of water anywhere, anytime. It's a much better way to get hydrated fast without all the sugar or corn syrup in energy drinks! 

We're supposed to reach 53 degrees today -- I'll believe it when I feel that sunshine on my face. Planning on a short run at a nearby park that Baxter and I haven't visited since before it snowed. He's going to be so excited when he figures out that's the afternoon plan! 

Now to figure out which 5k to run next! 

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