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Don’t Let the Cold Be an Excuse

Winter is finally here. Even here in Ruston we’re finally getting some freezing temperatures at night, and that means that it’s pretty darn chilly in the pre-dawn hours. Some of us are lucky enough to have a daily schedule that allows us to get it in during the warmer afternoon hours. But often the only way to ensure something doesn’t crop up and prevent us from getting it done is to get it in early.

There is always the option of the dreadmill, er… I mean treadmill. Some people like running on those evil contraptions even if they have the option of running outside. Most of us though would rather not do it unless we’re forced to. And if the ground is covered in ice or three feet of snow, you probably should be doing your run on the treadmill. You CAN run on a treadmill if you have to. It may not be the most fun workout ever, but you can still get it in. You can’t train tomorrow if you slip and break your leg today. So don’t get greedy with trying to earn your bad-ass status. Just because you went outside and ran in some really crummy conditions doesn’t necessarily mean you are tough (even if you are), it may indicate a certain lack of … cognitive processing power. Don’t let the thought of being stuck on the treadmill for an extended run push you to “not be able to get it in”.

The other option is to brave the elements. Get geared up and face the darkness and cold. Test our mettle. Not only can these training sessions make us a little mentally tougher (an important trait for race day), but they can be extremely rewarding as well. Bragging rights about how bad of conditions we trained in can make us feel pretty damn good about ourselves.

My own "cold" weather gear: Yellow Carhart hat, Mechanix gloves, under armor shirt, tights, and merino wool Buff (which was around my face at race start), and of course the sunglasses to shield my eyes from the cold.

Quite frankly, many of us would rather not get up at some absurd hour of the morning to get our workout in before getting the kids ready for school and heading to work. And the weather being wicked cold is an excuse that a lot of folks can sympathize with. But at the end of the day, it’s your workout you skipped. Not theirs. It’s your fitness you didn’t improve. Not theirs. Fundamentally what we do is something that requires daily work. Working extra hard tomorrow won’t make up for the lack of work today. Endurance training unfortunately doesn’t work that way. We can move workouts around within a training block if we have to in order to account for life. But the work still has to be done if we want to get better.

Yes there are times when it is unsafe to train because of the cold. But those conditions occur pretty infrequently for most of us. There is a saying that a lot of outdoor enthusiasts use: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. We know winter is going to be cold, and in some places pretty wet as well. And if you know it’s going to happen and you don’t put yourself in a position to be able to train anyway you are really just setting up an excuse for yourself when you don’t want to do the work. Get your cold weather gear. Get your headlamp and reflective vest. Get those trail shoes with the knobby tread on them so you don’t slip. Put yourself in a position to make a good decision and not an excuse. It’s your workout. You’ve got to own it. Other folks may not know or care that you made an excuse to not do it. But you will.

Coach’s Note: Please don’t run in unsafe conditions. Always follow Lt. Dan’s two rules: 1) Change your socks. 2) Don’t do anything stupid.

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