I think I’m pretty gung ho about this whole running thing, the only exception being cold weather. Throughout my childhood it’s always been an unofficial contest of masculinity amongst my two older brothers and I. Whether it be feats of strength at family parties, wrestling until blood is drawn, or boasts, topping the last of course, of our own undeniable toughness, my upbringing as the youngest imprinted me with a fervent need for competition
Because the oldest, John, works full time with his body as an arborist and the other, Jacob, is training in preparation for shipping off to Officer Cadet School this January , you could say I’ve got a slight chip on my shoulder. As the only brother who participates in running as a hobby, I try and use my exploits as a bludgeon against my physical superior siblings. To compete with the bragging-rights they’ve acquired through their respective professions, and to protect my own ego, I’ve attempted to acclimate myself to the most sordid of running conditions, except of course, the cold. The Dog days of summer? That I can do. Monsoons? No problem. But sorry fam, running in the snot-freezing winter months ain’t something I’m too inclined on doing. Just the thought of putting on layers and donning hats and gloves only to shove off into to burning cold air and fight perpetually stiff muscles makes me grumpy.
But it seems as though I may have a valid excuse, however, for taking this time off. The prevailing thought among even runners seems to be that off-season is actually beneficial. Personally I’ve noticed that through running constantly for months now (4-8 times a week) that I’ve developed a number of nagging pains. It appears that all this non-stop training, if given enough time, will eventually destroy me. Who knows, maybe if I keep up this workload that soreness in my foot might turn into a full blown stress fracture, or that tightness in my hamstrings might lead to a muscle tear, and that is certainly not something I wish to happen.
However, this is exactly why it is recommended that runners take time off. Prolonged periods of training with no breaks given for recovery tends to wear on the soft tissue and bone structure of the human body. And separation only makes the heart grow fond. While not looking to cause any lasting damage to my body, my hiatus can also be viewed as a way to avoid becoming bored with running.
So what am I to do with myself in these long, cold winter months? Why not make myself at home within the gym. Strength training is highly recommended for runners. Not that I’m looking to use these spindly limbs for power lifting, but doing a few push ups certainly couldn’t hurt And who better to take notes from from former three-time All-American cross country runner, and current assistant coach for the University of California, Los Angeles, mid-distance team Forest Braden? Doing core and body weight workouts during my time off will only lend themselves to a strong base for when I start running in more amiable running conditions. But aren’t you concerned about cardiovascular ability wanning? No, because whenever I feel the need to torture myself with the same type of awful aerobic exercise I’ll be missing, I’ll just hop in the pool and swim.
So it seems I’m killing a few birds with one stone. Not only am I able to recover, I’ll avoid the scrutiny of my brothers and the pitiful prospect of running out in sub-freezing weather.