Shut Up and Run
Maybe it’s the weather. As the year wears on, the temperature is dropping. The runs that were simply composed of shoes and shorts, are nothing but a faint memory. Slowly but surely, the layers are adding up. Of course, I am no stranger to this feeling as my running career was forged in snow and wool socks, but to say I am thrilled about it would be nothing short of fiction. Soon I will be rolling out of bed, wrapped in a blanket, shuffling my way to the dresser to bury myself in North Face. Far from ideal, but manageable. After a few obscenities and internalized motivational speeches, I will be out the door, back in my element and out of my head.
The desire to be free and running, regardless of the circumstances, is something that most runners can identify with at some point in their journey. Whether it’s the new runner butterflies or the sheer passion of the seasoned vet, there is something calling us to the door. Cold or hot, rain or shine, we want to run. Some runs will be easier than others, both physically and mentally, but nothing can conceal the fire that burns within us all. The feeling can be suppressed, stifled, and even manipulated, but it does not go away. Once you are a runner, you are always a runner.
One aspect of the cold weather that serves as a benefit, is the appetite for additional training methods. As the temperature gains momentum towards the hometown of malice, creative measures must be put in place. Activities like strength training and yoga become a valued source of currency in the world of fitness, come December. These actions, which go overlooked by many runners, serve as a building block for our aspirations of reaching the next level. Without these movements, we are confined to the limits of our single-mindedness.
Strength that runners need, is not necessarily provided by running alone. Running 65 miles a week, although beneficial, does not guarantee that we possess peak fitness. It is the supplementation of other resources along with the miles, that allows us to flourish. There are a handful of exercises that I call upon to fill this void. In addition to the traditional power movements of Olympic lifts like squatting, cleaning, and deadlifting, I also recognize the value of isolated muscle conditioning and plyometrics. Exercises like planks, calf raises and box jumps all play a crucial role in the development of our highest ability.
Another aspect that tends to go overlooked when we are dreaming of a new PR, is flexibility. Without the capacity to loosen our muscles at an elevated level, we multiply the probability of injury. More miles means more stretching. The benefit of adding in a minimal arsenal of yoga poses has an undeniable effect once it has been experienced. Not only do you come and go from runs free of injury and recover faster and more efficiently than before, but your runs become more fluid and full of life. All of which are profitable during the cold and harsh months of winter.
At the heart of every runner lies the passion and desire to excel and the ability to create the best version of ourselves. We are an ornery bunch that is capable of great things because of the toughness and dedication that our lifestyle requires. Life does throw curveballs, and we do face challenges, but we also attack these same rivals with tenacity and determination knowing that victory is within our reach. We are strong, we are stubborn, and we won’t let anything stop us from conquering our dreams, not even winter.