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.