Friday, January 16, 2009

It May Be Frozen Over, But It Isn't Hell (It Just Feels That Way Sometimes)

One little cold snap, and you maggots all take cover? OK, maybe a few of you are on a treadmill in a warm gym somewhere, but I know there are a lot of you sitting in front of the computer eating cookies and whining about the cold.

Get your mewling asses out there. If little old ladies could wait for hours in the cold for the inauguration, you can bundle up and run for 30 freaking minutes.

After all, these days they can bring you back to life even after you freeze to death.

Just remember: synthetics, layering, a 20 dollar bill for emergencies, and maybe a toe tag (I bought one after nearly perishing under the wheels of a cell phone infested pickup truck).

Let’s hear some inspiring stories of your cold-weather running. If there’s a really good one, I’ll ship out another shirt – long sleeve this time.


C. said...

it's too cold to live.

Anonymous said...

Overproduction of mucous, and that's all I'm going to say. You can be spared, unlike myself, my roommates, and everyone who looked out the window during my run earlier this month.

Romance said...

I did my first run in the snow and ice - I live in California (so we don't really have weather)- and it was cold, cold, cold (cold for us is below freezing) last month and I didn't really believe I would find snow up on the trail (I run mountain trails), but find it I did as well as ice. I recently moved out of SF - so this whole running in the outdoor, not building sheltered, elements is all new to me.

Luckily, I keep layers upon layers of wickaway in the car - so I piled on the layers and away the little dog and I ran. The only fierce part was coming down (part of the trail has a 40-degree incline)- but that was the day I really knew I was a runner.

I am also now the owner of totally synthetic hat that wicks away epic amounts of sweat.

I am also quite addicted to running - and running uphill and distances is my new love. I realize my story doesn't really count because it was only in the upper 20's...

*A* said...

I realize you asked for good stories, and this isn't one, but I have a running question and you've had good advice in the past, so...
I recently added jogging to my workout routine and have been going out three times a week or so since November (I'm in a mostly non-snowy state, hooray!). I have taken your advice and am going slow, etc. I'm to the point now where I run 2-3 miles. The problem is that at about 1.5 miles I often get pain in my right shoulder. Only my right shoulder. Sometimes I can run through it and other times it gets so painful that I have to slow to a walk for a while. I've never injured the shoulder, and the rest of my body feels fine. I don't even generally feel all that winded when the pain starts.
Any idea why this might be happening? I talked to my sister who is a marathoner and she said it might be referred pain due to my heart and lungs not quite being strong enough yet and it may go away once my stamina improves, but I'm looking for any and all opinions I can get. (Also, I realize you can't really diagnose me over the internet, I'm just curious if this happens to other runners or if you have any idea what it might be.)
Thanks for any tips you may have to stop the pain. Maybe I just need to go even slower? :-)

DoctorMama said...

*A*—That’s actually a really easy one. It is referred pain, but not from your heart or lungs; rather, it’s from your diaphragm (no, not the birth control device; the thin flat muscle under your lungs that helps you breathe and gives you hiccups). It comes about when your breathing and your stride don’t mesh well, and can be prevented/treated by focusing on your breathing. For me, it works to breathe in step with my feet. Doesn’t seem to matter which foot, but choose one and breathe in or out every time that foot strikes. If you’re already having pain, slow waaay down while you do this. And if you give yourself a good 5 or 10 minutes of starting slowly, it seems to help a lot. I still have trouble every now and then if I forget to start slowly.

(I’m quoting myself from quite awhile ago up there, but last time I wrote about it I talked about pain in the side from the diaphragm—I didn’t mention that it can be up in the shoulder too.)

Keep it up!

(And ZM, I think relative cold is valid ...)

Maria said...

Just ran 9 miles in the blistering California winter ... 55 degrees. I almost needed long sleeves ;-)

But seriously, it was my longest run in three years (and since my daughter was born). Half marathon is almost in sight!

ScienceGirl said...

DoctorMama, I am wondering what you have to say on the subject of running when sick with a cold/flu/sore throat/cough/fever/etc. Is it better to stop completely or just run less/slower? When my cold began, I didn't think it was that bad, so I continued running; then, I got significantly worse and running was out of question; should I wait till I am 100% to restart running, or attempt to run some when I get a little better?

Anonymous said...

Taking cover would imply that I started in the first place. :/ I'm still a wimp. But I'm thinking about becoming a maggot just as soon as it gets warm. PROMISE.


Elisabeth said...

Not only am I new to your blog (and thoroughly enjoying your running advice), but I am new to running. I used to think that, not only could I not run, but I couldn't exercise in the cold at all. Now, I am not sure how I will run when it gets hot out! Last week, on one of the coldest days this winter, I ran outside, in the dark, on the snow and had one of the most fun 45 minutes of physical activity that I can remember. I cannot imagine a better evening than running in the cold and quiet Central Park with my mom and talking about the inauguration while we stared at the glistening snow and sparkling skyline.

Sheri said...

Perfect conditions today. Sunny for the first time in two weeks. 10k, MINUS 13 Celcius, oh and don't forget about the wind chill factor. Spectacular scenery makes it all worth while.

Megan said...

No good running cold stories, but wondering if you ran while pregnant. I've had so much pelvic pain that its not an option.

DoctorMama said...

ScienceGirl—excellent question; I’ve thought about posting on it. Here’s my general rule: sick above the neck→run; sick below the neck→don’t run. So with fever/chills, nausea/vomiting, bad coughing, achiness, you have my permission to stay in bed. Coughing is my bĂȘte noire—a chest cold will usually put me out of commission for quite a while, until I cough maybe every three to four steps instead of every step.

Megan—no, I could not run pregnant, which bummed me out. Some people can. I wasn’t allowed to when I had a uterine hematoma, and after that I just couldn’t stand how weird it felt. And from 27-37 weeks, I contracted every 3 minutes if I so much as walked. It came back very quickly postpartum, however.

Anonymous said...

as long as relative cold is valid (and i believe strongly in it!), here's the only real experience i have:

i live in dallas (stop laughing). the summer of 2007 i ran a lot out at white rock lake. i loved being by myself outdoors and expending energy in a healthy way. not to mention i was losing weight and toning up - a really big deal for a chubby girl with an obese girl mentality. it was really great meditative time for me too. winter came though and i acted like a pansy. i didn't go out. winter passed and spring came. i didn't get back out. then summer came again, 2008 this time around, and i got out a little bit. then i lost interest.

about october of '08, i became interested again but was nervous because winter was coming and i didn't want to run in the "cold."


long story short (too late i know), i joined a running program and our training started the first week of JANUARY. yes, cold cold january. (at least for a few days at a time.)

not having the proper running shoes, i missed our first bitterly cold run at the lake but i did manage to make the second.

that morning as i hopped out of bed and felt the cool wood floors under my feet, i just knew it was going to be ridiculously chilly outside. still, i knew what i needed to do and i went to get my clothes from the line in the garage.

after layering up, i made my way to the running office and hung out before the run. then we hit the streets. good LORD it was cold. the wind nipped at my nose, my ears, my lips. (did you know dallas is one of the windiest cities in america? that does NOT help with the cold factor!) still i pressed on.

we didn't run too long or too hard that day since we're newbies but it was enough to make me appreciate the encouragement of my coach to suit up and show up. and i was proud of myself for doing it.

yes, it was cold. yes, it was early. but i'm a runner and it's what i do. i suit up and i show up - cold, hot, windy, not.

i've been out several times since then in the "bitter cold" of dallas and have felt great at the end of each one. running isn't easy and the conditions aren't always going to be prime. and if i've learned on thing in the short time i've been running with this new group, it's that i'll get twice as much out of the little effort i put in.

my self-image is improving daily. it's really true that i've come to see how i really view myself through running. and getting out there - especially when it's cold - helps me to respect myself and my body just that much more.

i'm not sure any of this made any sense at all. but i'm really thankful for the other runners i see out there when it's cold or they're tired. seeing them is encouragement for me. (and sometimes, i go just so others can see me pushing.)

we suit up and show up. it's just what we do.

Anonymous said...

The possibility of wearing my maggotiness on my sleeve (or chest) is drawing this long-time lurker first-time-commentor in from the cold.

To the horror of my neighbours, I run with my babies in all weather. I ran with my now two-year-old year-round, and now I'm running with my six-month-old. My jogging stroller has a fleece-lined snuggle bag, and a wind cover. The trick is to keep baby from overheating in there!

Cold is not the challenge for me. I'd rather run (and have) in -20 weather than in the wet. Fall running is my bane, since the weather changes so fast. One of my first longer runs with the new baby was a 4 K loop, which is out through trails, and back along the road, ending in a long, straight, slight-uphill along the main road of my subdivision. The first 2K were sunny and warm, and since we were in the trees, I didn't notice the wind picking up, or the ominous clouds headed my way.

As I started the third km, it started to rain. Not too bad, as much as I hate being wet, I find a light sprinkle refreshing, as I tend to run "hot". But Mother Nature kept nudging that faucet, and by the time I turned onto the main road, it was a deluge. Huge puddles everywhere. At this point, the shortest distance home was via the road, so I kept going, ignoring the looks I was getting from drivers.

Baby was snug and warm, I had covered him with the weather shield when we left, so no worries there. Pretty sure the rain tap-tapping on the plastic cover is what finally lulled him to sleep.

I'm running along, with a HUGE grin plastered to my face, to convince the people driving by that I'm NOT crazy, I really DO want to be out in this weather, and YES my baby is fine. (Because what are they going to do, stop and offer me a ride? Not that I'd take it anyway, but for some reason, I felt the need to alleviate any potential guilt in these people.) I'm soaked to the skin, and laughing in that "yes, this IS very funny, no, I don't think I'll stop laughing, because if I do I'll cry" manner, when Mother Nature decides to up the ante for my last kilometre, and brings on the hail.

I run nearly a full km in hail the size of my pinkie fingernail, giving a little "what are you going to do?" shrug of my shoulders to any driver who happens to make eye contact with me. I could have sheltered in any of the covered porches along the way, but I just KNEW that the moment I stopped, the baby would wake up and want to eat, and I was not prepared to hunker down and breastfeed on one of those porches. Also, he was still at the "input milk = output poo" stage and I had no change bag. So I kept going. And of course, the hail stops just as I reach my street. By the time I'm punching in the code (took three tries with my cold fingers - I've never forgotten gloves since!) to open the door, the sun is shining again.

So I'll take the cold-weather run any day of the week. Because even with mommy-brain I know that winter = layers, hat and gloves. It's when the sun is shining and birds are singing that I forget just how short my shorts-wearing running season is.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with you all who are pregnant or who have kids already. I, sadly, have no pelvic floor left. I can't run without something other than sweat running wetly down my legs. TMI, I know, but true.

OMDG said...

I'll take the cold over oppressive heat any day. But there are two things that make me flee to the treadmill.

1) The wind tunnel that causes the wind to blow directly into my face on the way out (which is made up for by a pleasant run on the way back).

2) Swamp crotch. Actually when it's cold it's frozen swamp crotch. Most unpleasant. I've tried an array of undie solutions as well.

I don't expect you to be able to help with the wind issue, but any thoughts on how to avoid frozen swamp crotch would be most appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I went to Oregon State University for my undergraduate degree. That's in the Willamette Valley, which does get ices storms and snow in addition to rain.

Back then, I was very much into running no matter the weather. One time, after a big snow, I took my dog for a run. I suited up in silk long johns, sweatpants over that, and vinyl track pants over that, a long sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt, and a lightweight parka. My shoes were those trail runner hybrid thingies with lots of tread. Add to it a thick woolly hat, a scarf tied around my face, and thick gloves. I had on two pairs of socks. I was hydrated, I was colonically empty, I was dressed for it and ready to go! It would be brisk but invigorating! I would be able to work different muscle groups! I would take my dog who was going crazy with cabin fever! I might bump into a cute guy! Mush!

I could hear the frat boys in the house behind me throwing snowballs! A good sign!

Out of my little campus apartment I stepped onto the sidewalk. My good-sized dog, leaping for joy (snow!) took off. And down I went. And went. and went. I didn't know there was a layer of ice under the snow. My dog had no problem gaining traction. Me--it wasn't until I got to an unkept lawn (several blocks later) that I was able to stop by grabbing some bushes and grass sticking out of the snow.

Since I was young and prideful, I got up, dusted myself off, rearranged my bundle of layers, and tried to jog home inconspicuously. But really it was a hobbled tiptoe, with me trying to stay on grassy areas. And the dog of course kept pulling and yanking ... And by the time I got back in the door, the sweat was dripping down my back and legs. Now that's dedication.

Anonymous said...

I'm sixty and I've been a runner for thirty-two years. I hate not being able to run and I hate running indoors on a treadmill, so I always run outdoors unless the wind is so strong it would blow me over. I have many selections of layers and a good wind jacket. I have those rubber harness cleats that slip over your shoes for the days when the streets are full of snow or ice. Some of my favorite runs have been on days when it looked like frozen-over hell from the view indoors, but when I got out I discovered it really was beautiful and oddly serene and yet invigorating. I'm not a big athletic type and I'm usually a wimp when it comes to challenges, so my running in all weathers is one way I feel powerful. (And truth to tell, I'd rather run in the cold and snow than in heat and humidity.)

My word verification is "mogri." Wasn't that the kid from the Jungle Book?


Unknown said...

I am new! New to your site, DoctorMama, and new to running. Or, at least, new to enjoying running.

I live in Alberta, Canada. We have routinely been hitting -30 Celcius this winter. So before my first run I headed out and bought the thickest synthetic long underwear I could find, and a pair of spiky grips for my shoes. I've actually lucked out with some relatively warm temperatures (only -10 Celsius this morning!), and with lots of layering I have not yet died! I feel kind of like a superhero every morning I gear up and get my butt out the door. I'm really looking forward to getting to run in the spring and summer, though!

Ozzie said...

Jungle Book kid was Mowgli, I believe. And I wish I could say I was out in the freezing, freezing cold (This isn't even a good lie. I'm totally cool with it) but ~80% of my miles are logged in the sweet indoors. The second it gets a little warmer, less windy, and more humid, and I can go 2 miles without snorking up monstrous bloody boogers when I get home (I assume this is due to freeze-drying of sinuses?), I'm totally back to outdoorsy running. It'd sound less shameful if I were from Alaska or somewhere uber-cold- but I'll take my shame and not freeze.

But ya know, if you just can't imagine running outside, inside really isn't bad. Rock that iPod!

Anonymous said...

OK, here's my story:

I went running at 5 am on the morning of New Year's Eve. It was only slightly above freezing, and was raining; the night before, it had snowed.

The snow hadn't melted. Instead, it acted, sponge-like, to hold the rainwater in place and prevent it from draining off the streets and sidewalks.

So at every step, my feet broke through a crust of snow and sloshed into 3" or 4" of freezing cold slush. Also it was raining. Did I mention the cold? And the dark? Also, the slipperiness? I had to sort of gingerly prance through the run in order not to slip and fall.

And it was the best run EVER. I felt like a freaking Amazon warrio when I was done. It was like, "Yo, don't mess with me, I just ran through freezing rain and SLUSH!" -victoria

Laura H. said...

these are really awesome comments. :] the only thing keeping me from the streets today is the ice... and well i guess my injured left knee. but i'll blame it on the ice!! it's EVERYWHERE!!

E. said...

I actually started running again not long ago, after about ten years off. Brilliant, to begin in November. I must admit the recent cold and snow have stopped me in my tracks. I'm still too small and immature a (recently reborn) maggot to deal with this harshness! But I promise, come March, I'll be back out there. In the meantime, there's Nordic Track. Horrible, boring Nordic Track.

(Toe tag. Great idea. Got to get one for my cycling husband. I sneakily stuck an address label with phone # under his bike seat, since he never brings ID out on rides, but I don't know if EMTs really hunt that hard for identity markers.)

Anonymous said...

I live in the South, but I run with a friend who's from Minnesota. She sweats a lot. One morning she was out running in about 8 degree weather and her hair froze. That's dedication.

winecat said...

Damn Dr. Mama you are one hard task master. I sticking to running inside the gym here in Northern Ca. No snarky comments about how beautiful our weather has been. I live on a hill, it's down hill all the way then you have to drag you ass back UP the hill!

Anonymous said...

track run in 16 degree weather! nothing like being in a big group of trackies, running to the neighborhood shop for some free samples and a glass of free water. when we go back, no-one, not even those with gloves, could feel their hands. it was fun. no coach and a lot f jokes only funny to those who actually ran a lot.

Anonymous said...

haha! cold it is not... well not here in Melb, Australia. We're going through a massive heat wave and I manager to haul myself out there (slowly) when it was nearly 100F- at 9pm at night! I can't wait for winter, this heat is killing me! the best part is the down hill run home.

Anonymous said...

Another question instead of a story:

A couple of years ago, I herniated a disk in my lower back (too much back straining exercise in one week was identified as the likely cause) and whenever it is aggravated I have terrible sciata (sp?) and muscle spasms often to the point where I can't walk.

I'd like to be a maggot but I'm wondering if I'd be better off to be the rare swimming kind of maggot?


The Homeless Parrot said...

i wanted you to know that i got my ass off the couch today, joined a gym, and started running again - and i feel GREAT. thanks for the ass kicking. i still can't run in the cold - my lungs hurt. but that's why god invented treadmills, right?

ScienceGirl said...

Thanks for getting this maggot running - I just (slowly) ran my first half-marathon! As it is now, my hips are the ones that need the most recovery after my longest runs (especially if I am forced to run at a slope to one side...); do you think that will get corrected with continued steady running, or should I try to add targeted exercises?

Eric Goldstein said...

Yeah, Im in Alaska and we have been getting what we call zamboni winters when everything is basically just like an entire sheet of ice. I bought those same Spiky Ice Cleats at and I swear it was the only friggen way I could even make it to the car. I run in them all the time now too, but I needed them just to get to the store last year.