February 2013 has come and, thankfully, gone. Winter’s final full month is always the longest of the season for me and this year’s was no exception. There were a lot of lessons learned, or perhaps re-learned, over the course of 28 days.
With the month started in California due to work, I was running at a base altitude of 6000 feet in Lake Tahoe for a few days, I still spent the lion’s share of the month in central and northern New York. Lake Tahoe for training for work was terrific and I made it a solid running camp in my non-work time too. All my other work was home office in the Finger Lakes, (central-north New York) or on Fort Drum in northern New York. This wasn’t the coldest February on record, but winter seemed to be accompanied by a relentlessly withering wind that really lent an edge to outdoor physical training.
You Can See the Snow Blowing Across Our Back Field
I extended my daily running streak out to 1902 total days. Frankly, in terms of my ultra running training, I think I’d be better served by taken a couple of weeks off from running at all; I seldom felt like running at all in February and was slow and sluggish while doing so.
But the streak still owns me. And, with Barkley looming and Boston around the corner after that, if I was going to take time off I’d have been better served doing so in December as there’s not time to do so at this point.
One of the dangers in writing and publishing post-midnight is information failure, because training partners were a big part of February and were the main reason I ended up logging 186 much-needed training miles. As always, I ran with my canine pack a lot, all 5, Maggie, Bubba (Simon) Gibby, daisy, and especially Fletcher. Some equine laps too with Cracker and Jimmy. I also ran as a member of the Team Read, White, & Blue-West Point Run Ranger Run competition to benefit A Gallent Few. We had a total of 10 people on our team and we posted 1095 miles for February. My mileage came in second to MAJ Eric Gust’s total of around 220 total miles for 28 days. Never underestimate the value of having training partners of any nature.
I ran 34 times and only knocked out 8 TRX & Rip Trainer workouts; ultra running’s a tough mistress because the baseline for any success during a race of any ultra length is lots and lots of time on your feet. On the flip side, I’d like a better balance in terms of overall fitness but am giving some of that away every month through less TRX/ Rip Trainer balanced against ultra running mileage requirements. Maybe the first re-learned lesson is we choose our priorities in life and back them up with our actions one way or another.
1. Winter gear balance is tough & winter makes a coward of me. Cold winter running requires the requisite gear but it’s tough to find that delicate balance between enough layers to keep you warm during that day’s run versus comfortably warm starting the run but over-dressed, sweating and uncomfortable during. Here’s gear of run is this month; Hoka Bondi B’s, Mafetes, and Stinsons; I inserted #6 sized 3/8 inch metal screws into the bottoms of the Mafetes and Stinson for traction on our snow & ice covered trails; long sweats with short underneath; just sweats, just shorts; 2 tops layers, 3 top layers, 4 tops layers; heavy gloves, light gloves, mittens, 2 pairs of gloves; hats, head-bands; sunglasses, clear eye protection to ward over the snow, ice and wind when it wasn’t bright enough for sunglasses. Either a Nathan Hydration, Ultimate Direct or Camebak for every run and often both the UD & the Camelbak as I train for a couple long races I’ll be running this spring. All the gear gets tiresome; once again I vow not to ever complain no matter how hot it gets when I can run in just shorts, tank top and shoes.
2. Lots of hill in February. We live atop a ridgeline in the eastern Finger Lakes, so most of the terrain I run on here, trail, road, snowmobile trail is at least up or down grade and mostly uphill or downhill. No exception this month.
3. Maintaining a high level of training versus taking it easy and then regaining it. The long run is the staple of any distance runner’s training plan. I get bored during long runs and have a hard time executing them under a normal training plan. That’s why I run so many races, or had been, through last Summer. I averaged at least 1 significant event (marathon or longer) every month since January 2010. But, I haven’t run a race since last July for a lot of different reasons, and it really feels like it as I training towards some bigger events I want to do well in this spring. Far easier to reach a peak and turn it into a plateau, even if it’s an up & down plateau, than to only race a couple of times yearly. At least I think it is.
Glad it’s March.