On The Tundra

It was a little bit colder yesterday than I realized, until I was out on the street for a run.

First of all, the cold weather makes it nearly impossible to keep my heart rate down. If it’s in the 30s, or even the 20s with no wind (a rarity around here), it’s only a problem at the beginning, but it was down in the teens yesterday and felt a lot worse than that, and at 19:xx paces I was still hovering above 142 bpm for the first half a mile or more. This training is really not ideal for cold weather. A blog I read, Miss Zippy, had the same trouble keeping her heart rate down in the cold and has had to give up on MAF training for this training cycle. I laughed because she lives in Baltimore and blamed the “very cold temperatures” for her heart rate issues. I find it funny when the 20s or 30s are called “extremely cold,” unless we’re talking about 20 or 30 Kelvin, in which case, yes.

A couple miles in, I was up near the UMD campus, crawling along the gradual but interminable incline along College Ave between Woodland and Junction, trudging pathetically along at a 17:xx pace, my path was crossed by a pack of actual fast runners. There were probably 6 or 7 of them, all tall, leggy, and graceful, all at the same pace, all making that pace look effortless even though it’s probably a pace I could only dream of. I felt like a walrus watching a pack of caribou prance by.

I was under-dressed for the weather and for the pace I was forced to take, but it took me awhile to realize that. I didn’t realize that running so slowly, keeping my heart rate low, would keep my body from warming itself up as I went along. I was 2 or so miles into the run when I realized I wasn’t warming up. The skin on my face, forearms and thighs was stiffening up, which indicated I’d already gotten a bit of frostbite. It’s fine to start out cold, I usually do, but by that point I should have been warmer. I was still just under 2 miles from home, and I realized I was facing another 25-30 minutes outside if I kept following the heart rate restriction.

With 1.5 miles to go, I cheated. I turned on the jets and let my heart rate skyrocket into the 170s or 180s and zoomed (for me) the rest of the way home.


Oops. Also, FYI, I’m not really that fast, it was all downhill. It did feel amazing to run “fast” for me again, and I did start to warm up a bit as I charged along. I still ended up having to take a shower to warm up, which was probably not very good for the affected skin. It all turned bright red and started to itch. I need to be more careful.

I think kicking it into high gear at the end of a run when I’m cold and haven’t run fast in a long time as a sign that this slow aerobic training I’m doing is working, or at least is not detrimental. I also think I need to check the weather report before I go out, and I need to cover my legs better to block the wind. (I usually cover my arms better, with 2 layers of long sleeves.) I also need to stop writing this post and get dressed for today’s run.

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