Friday, November 20, 2015

Running Woes

As you might remember, a few months ago, Barley and I started the Couch to 5k app in an attempt to give running a shot. It was hard. I hated it. Barley hated it. I thought the jump from week 2 to week 3 was going to kill me.

And then all of the sudden I had a revelation. When I'm training Barley, if something's too difficult, we break it down a little more until she won't get frustrated and we don't move on until she's really got it. Why wouldn't I give myself the same treatment? After all, I literally had not run more than the 60 seconds at a time we run in agility class since I was in 6th grade. So, I repeated week 2 for a couple more days before attempting week 3 again. Week 3 was still hard, but we survived. When I tried week 4 (which makes a super unrealistic jump that almost doubles the amount of running time you did in week 3) and couldn't do it, I decided to stick to week 3 for a little while.

It wasn't hard any more. It was manageable and for a minute I started thinking I could do this. I wouldn't say I was enjoying running, but I wasn't dreading it or trying to talk myself into putting on running clothes to get out the door. We even ran in a light drizzle a couple times when it started raining on our way to the park. I started adding on a minute or two each day we repeated week 3, so we were getting closer to the amount of time week 4 required us to run. I was just about ready to try week 4 again.


And then things changed. The temperature dropped and suddenly I couldn't breathe during runs anymore. Breathing is the one part of exercising I feel really confident in. I played the flute for years, so I spent a lot of time learning how to breathe deeply and for the first few weeks, I never felt like I couldn't catch my breath. But when the temperature dropped below 60, I felt like I couldn't even take a full breath.  I would breath in and it felt like the air would get stuck before it would even make it into my lungs--my diaphragm was getting no work at all. 

The runs that had felt so easy just days before seemed impossible again. I thought maybe I was running faster, trying to stay warm, but my watch didn't log a change in my pace at all. I tried to slow down a bit, thinking that maybe I needed a slower pace to deal with the colder air. That didn't help. I tried concentrating on breathing even more. No change.


So now I have a dilemma. It's not going to get any warmer any time soon. In fact, it's going to get colder and colder for the next 3 months at least. I knew we'd probably take a break by January or February once there was a permanent layer of ice on the sidewalks (especially since they don't clear the trails at the state park at all), but I had hoped we'd be able to keep at it until at least Christmas.

Part of me feels like we should backtrack to week 1 and just start over to get used to running in the cold. The part of me that hates failure sees that as a failure even though I know it isn't--deep down, it feels like one. Another part of me thinks we should just stick to walking until the spring thaw and then try again when we'll have a good 6 months to get used to running before the cold comes back instead of the 2.5 months we had this time.



So runner friends, give us your recommendations! Especially if you have answers to how to breathe when it's so cold.



23 comments:

  1. Good for you sticking with it. When I lived back in New York and it got into December, I would always wear a scarf around my neck and pull it up over my nose/mouth for the first 10 minutes or so of my run until I heated up. It helped get over the cold air shock as it was a little warmer going into my lungs. Give it a try - good luck. Stick with it.

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    1. I'll have to try the scarf trick! I'll let you know how it works out.

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  2. Mom has never had any issues with breathing and the temperature. We think you should keep running or you will lose all the conditioning you already have. If you can't stick to the plan, at least run some to stay in shape.

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    1. I know running is going to be out of the picture as soon as the snow comes because it's hardly safe to walk in our neighborhood with all of the snow piles making it harder for traffic to see us and at the state park doesn't clear the trails at all, so running through several inches of snow is more intensity than I probably want. But we might try to at least keep up with it a little bit until the snow comes to stay.

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  3. I really hate running and Kilo the Pug is a sprinter but can't do distance well. It gets very cold here and dangerous/slippery. Is there anywhere you could maybe jog and play games indoors? I should add Barley to our Border collie feature today. Do you have any action shots or videos if interested?

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    1. Barley's with Kilo on the sprinting--she likes to go really fast and then be done really quickly (and I'm kind of the same way, too). Neither one of us really loves the whole endurance idea ;) We go to an agility gym every week for agility class, so we get to run and play there--and we play lots of noseworks games and with her balance board inside (and we'll still keep up with our daily walks). I'm starting to think we might just not be runners.

      I don't have any really good action shots of Barley--for the most part, they've all been taken with my phone. Thanks for thinking of us, though!

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  4. Hmm, maybe just work yourself back up. I know not helpful, but at least worth a try! One article I read said to stay hydrated and to breathe in through your nose :)

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    1. I drink water all day long and I only breathe through my nose! So at least I'm doing something right. We might give week 1 a try again this weekend and see if it's less miserable than just struggling through week 3 day after day.

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  5. Good for you. I used to be a runner but havent ran regularly for a long time. I'm going to start a Pooch to 5k program with Gretel in the new year.

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    1. I've never been a runner, but it seemed like something that Barley and I could do together to add a little more intensity than we get on our daily walks. Good luck getting back into it!

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  6. Good for you. I used to be a runner but havent ran regularly for a long time. I'm going to start a Pooch to 5k program with Gretel in the new year.

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  7. I'm not a runner so I have no advice... other than suggesting a neckwarmer or a scarf. Could you get a treadmill so you're still running during the winter months?

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    1. Unfortunately, my apartment is not big enough for a treadmill--I've thought about joining a gym to use their treadmills in the winter months, but the truth is that I just really hate working out, so unless I'm doing something with Barley, I have trouble sticking with it :)

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  8. I'm so proud of you for even trying to run! I hate running, it's painful and I gave up a long time ago! LOL! When I was reading this I was thinking maybe going back to week 1 and trying that in the cold and seeing how it goes might be a good idea. Then if you still can't breath then at least you know you tried!

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    1. I think we probably will go back to week 1 and see how that goes--but I'm so with you on hating running! And since I know that as soon as the snow comes to stay we won't be running for a few months anyway, I'm tempted to just call it quits for the year and try again in the spring ;)

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  9. I'm started running this summer, and while we've had absurdly warm weather here in north FL, there's been a few nights were it was in the 50s. I wore a thicker hoodie than I'd normal wear for running, and pull it up around my nose and mouth until I started sweating. Once my body was hot, I could breathe.
    Good for you!

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    1. It seems like that might be the trick! If I can convince myself to get back up there, I'll have to try covering my nose and mouth.

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  10. Good for you to even start running and do the challenge. I can't give you any advice as I can't stand running and it hurts my knees. I hope you get it straightened out but know that you are not a failure, can't fail when your out there trying.

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    1. It hurts my knees, too, but spending a little more time in the beginning weeks to give them more of a chance to get used to it seemed to help as long as I didn't try it too many days of the week.

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  11. Good for you to be so determined not to give up! I have putting running aside for the winter (I won't bore you with my list of excuses why...LOL...I just don't have your determination!). In the spring I plan to try again and I'm going to do the Couch to 5K. Good luck with the scarf trick...I hope that works for you!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. I'm not sure I've got that determination when it comes to this, either! We might try going back to week 1, but it got down into the 30s today and I need so many layers to convince myself to even open the door and take Barley out to potty that I don't know if I can convince myself to put on workout clothes and actually run in those temperatures! If I can't breathe when it's in the 50s, I don't even want to think about how my lungs will feel in the 30s. Running might be on hold for us until spring, too.

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