Sunday, March 4, 2012

Month in Review (February)

2/2010: 100.9 miles
2/2011: 111.3 miles
2/2012: 151.9 miles

I just got back from a week long business trip to Boston, where I wrapped up my training for the month of February slogging away on a treadmill at a 10% grade. How do I feel? Pretty good, I guess. I'm not following any strict training plan, but I am definitely trying to hit weekly mileage goals and I'm constantly comparing my training to last year's. It's still way too early in the year for me to get too disappointed about missing a scheduled run or not quite getting in enough miles per week. That said, I logged 40 more miles this February than last February. I also managed to run 5 10+ mile runs this month vs. 2 10+ mile runs last year. I'm also running my usual 5 mile run (the boulevard) about 5 minutes faster than I did at this time last year. So, that's reassuring and certainly evidence that there's a benefit to regular running throughout the year even if the weekly mileage hovers around only 20-25 miles a week.

However, I wanted to get in one 20 mile run in February, but that never happened. And, of course, 2012 is a leap year so I got to pad my monthly mileage by one extra day. Also, some of those miles weren't technically running miles. In January and February I usually spend a hour on the bike trainer 1-2 times a week instead of running. It depends mostly on the weather, my schedule, and my general motivation level. I count one hour on the bike trainer as a 5-mile run. This year I have a cadence sensor mounted on my bike so that my GPS can measure the distance I ride on the trainer. That has kept me honest and I can better judge how much effort I put in during my hour long ride. Last year I would just wing it and it's pretty easy to space out and slow down without noticing it (especially while watching a movie). I used the bike trainer in 2011 as well. I feel it's a great option to have while training during Leadville's winters. Peddling away on the bike trainer in a t-shirt and shorts next to the warmth of the wood stove-- while watching the windblown snow whip around outside the house-- definitely has its appeal. 

I would say that February is the toughest month to train in Leadville-- at least mentally. Your "serious" training probably started in January, but by February your initial enthusiasm has probably waned a bit and the novelty of running in winter is gone. You just have to grind it out and get your miles in. Should I wear my screw-studded shoes, my micro-spikes, or my snowshoes today? Glancing at the weather conditions before your run is usually disheartening: often temperatures drop into the single digits-- especially with windchill factored in. Running at dawn is brutally cold. In March, conditions aren't that much different, but you do get a few days where you get a little taste of spring. On March weekends, trips down the Arkansas valley to BV (where it can be 20 degrees warmer and snow free) make things more palatable-- even inspiring. Even the roads in Leadville start to melt out a little bit by the end of March, and running on asphalt and dirt (instead of snow and ice) suddenly drops your times by almost a minute a mile, making you feel like a rock star.

California Gulch, Leadville

In a way, my February training almost went too well. It'll be a challenge for me to log 150 miles in March. A week long vacation in Florida and a week long business trip to Boston gave me plenty of time to run in February. In March... I've got the Salida marathon as an excuse to log 26.2 miles and then there's my birthday-- which I generally take off to do a long run down in BV. (Is it lame to consider a 20-mile run a birthday present to yourself?) March miles won't magically happen. I'll have to be diligent and run regularly throughout the week and get at least one 10+ mile run in per week. No more two days off in a row.

Again, the emphasis for my 2012 training is the long/back-to-back run. If I get those in-- even if my total mileage isn't more than February-- I'll be happy.

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