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Mental preparations for battle against the possibility of going athletically brain-dead during January and February.


I tend to struggle with January and February. In the “candidate for a lightbox machine” sort of way.

This year presents unique challenges for the following reasons:

1. It’s a little darker than I’m used to.

(On the bright side — harhar — sunset is already sprinting in the later direction. By the end of January, it’ll stay light out until 4:18 PM!)

2. Persistent foot pain.

(Yes, this is infuriating, but if I have to deal with an injury, now is the time of year for it.)


Oh dear. For a person who sets her calendar to the comforting idea of athletic competition, this last one is kind of a drag.

I had aspirations of using the winter to build up a monstrous base so that I’d have dividends to collect on later in the year, but it looks like I’ll have to devote time to cross training in January if I expect to navigate through this foot injury without lingering consequences.

The doctor attributed my foot pain to capsulitis-bursitis – which I’m pumped about because it seems like something that deserves zero respect – I mean bursitis? C’mon. Sure sounds like a weak excuse for an injury to me.

Then I learned that the treatment for it is essentially the same as that for a neuroma, which dissolved my delusions that I could continue to simply ignore it.

Metatarsal pads, orthotics, new shoes, ice, toe stretchers and reverse voodoo are all dandy, but none of that will outweigh the pounding of an 80-mile week, so it’s time to truly lay off for a spell. (Gee, I’ve been saying that a lot recently, but I’ve only made it a day or two without running and then I think I’m magically healed so I run and consequently spend the rest of the day hobbling, whining, crying, and conducting myself like a moody infant.)

Anyway, right.

January and February are notoriously tough, and I may not be able to do a whole ton of running during these months.

Therefore, I need some projects to work on.

So far, I have two.

Firstly, I’ve decided I want to do a pull up.

Yup. One whole pull up.

A real, honest, complete one starting with straight arms from a dead hang. Palms facing away. No kicking to get to the top.

Back in November I randomly decided to stop being a gigantic slacker and reintroduced serious strength training three to four times a week. Slapping some pull up-based exercises into my core lifts once or twice per week will probably be sufficient to gain subjective progress on this front.

Great, so apparently I’m getting jacked this winter, but what about my running and cardiovascular fitness?

Too much going on in this photo.

If I have to cross train on a machine, my first pick is the erg. With both hands occupied at all times, there’s simply no room to mess around, read magazines, or fiddle with iPods.  (And mentally, erging is harder for me than any other machine, because I still have this idea in my head that I need to hold the splits I held in college. Essentially, I’m forced to stay focused.)

My second-choice machine is the stationary bike.

Last choice is the elliptical. Yes, it’s technically “the closest” thing to running, and yes, I can elevate my heart rate and work up a sweat, but it somehow never feels as satisfying as the other options. And it occasionally bothers my back and makes my feet go numb. Darn you, elliptical.

So in the vein of a greater volume of cross-training this winter, I’ve started thinking a little bit about triathlons.

Which surprises me.

Truthfully, triathlons have perplexed me for awhile: “Come get kicked in the face while swimming in open water, then bike while being terrified of cars and other cyclists, and then you finally get to run but it will really hurt because you just biked?” What have I been waiting for?! Sign me up!!

I wouldn’t have an opportunity to do one for many months, but the idea is — for the first time — intriguing. And letting it marinate through this next two months might inspire me to be a little more excited about biking — it will feel like it has actual purpose instead of just being my second or third-choice of exercise.

Secondly, swimming would be ideal cross training for this foot thing. The venue options are limited to the high school pool or the ocean with the sea lions and humpback whales, both of which present logistical obstacles, so we’ll see.

Tangent time! I wish rowing were a part of triathlons, because that would give me such an edge. Add in “complaining about marginal foot pain” as the third event and I’ll be contending for the Olympics.

What would your personal triathlon include? Pick three events, the combination of which you would excel at. Be serious, semi-serious, or not serious at all.

What are your favorite and least favorite months of the year? February is the shortest month of the year but it always feels like the longest to me. March is high on the list of ugliest months too, but it’s my birthday month so it gets a pass. As for best months: It’s a toss-up between May/June, and September/October.

Who else isn’t sad to see the winter holidays go? The hype, the advertising, the herdlike mentality, the frenzy over shopping and presents and resolutions… agh! I just want to spend some time with my family and friends, quit turning it into such a headache! When it comes to holidays, the Fourth of July is where it’s at: hang around outside with people you like, eat a cheeseburger, drink a beer, maybe run in road race, catch some fireworks, bam. (Which reminds me — for any readers who are not American, does your country have a “day” and if so, what do you do to celebrate it?)

20 Comments leave one →
  1. DorkyAnt permalink
    01/02/2011 12:26

    You should clearly move to the Rochester NY area. We have a ton of race series throughout our crappy, long winter. In fact, I ran a 7.5 mile race yesterday on New Years day. We have the Frezeroo series, the Snow Cheap race series, and the Polar Cats race series to name a few. Lots of running opportunities! Sorry to hear that the foot is still bugging you. I like the pull-up goal, I’d like to try doing one but I’m afraid I would embarrass myself at the local Y.

    • 01/03/2011 06:46

      You have again knocked me out with your awesome MS paint skillz. I love the g6 shout out. (shudder.)

      And did I see another mention of Crapchester’s fantastic racing options in the winter in these comments? It’s true: you can’t get lazy here in the winter. On the downside, it’s Crapchester.

      And my pull up ability is worse at the moment. I don’t think I could make it halfway.

      • 01/03/2011 06:50

        Whoops, didn’t meant to piggyback off another comment. Now I’ve left three on this post! Go me and my making up for my bad commenting skillz as of late….

  2. 01/02/2011 12:52

    i fully support the “getting jacked this winter” route. i’m thinking that i really want to join you. but i think i’ll start later. not due to laziness at all i simply wouldn’t want to totally embarrass everyone this spring / summer when i slip into a swim suit.

    as far as my personal triathlon…hmmmm obviously i’d pick running as one. i kind of want to say swimming just because i used to love to do it but i haven’t been in a swimmers mode for years and i’d likely drown. but swimming’d be the second anyway as i was a damn good swimmer back in the day. third…..i guess i pick basketball. but that’s a team sport.

    or just kicking as any way shape or form. i bet i’d be good at that. you too. we should start some sort of athletic group for it.

  3. 01/02/2011 13:38

    ahh! i may join you on your quest for a single pull up as our ability levels are really similar at the moment. also i’ve been doing a similar thing as you with the “not run for a couple of days, think i’m healed, then run again and hurt” business with a hip issue i’ve been having. actually what you said pretty much sums up my life at the moment. but pretty much all forms of gym machine make me want to punch a kitten. especially the elliptical, which ALWAYS makes my feet go numb!

    also, i’ve done one sprint triathlon in my life and it was the most fun i’ve ever had in a race…and i did really well mainly because of my marginal running ability…so you would probably kick some ass! i think there would be a beer mile involved in my ideal triathlon, combining my two most excellent talents of running and beer drinking. lol.

  4. 01/02/2011 15:33

    Running, shotgunning beer and shelling peanuts with my teeth? That would be my personal tri!

    Good luck gettin’ jacked, lady! I’m sure you’ve got a pull-up in you if you train to it!

    I’m definitely A-OK with the holidays being over. Although it’s a little strange down here in the South, being that the summer is kind of the “off season” from a running standpoint. So things are kicking in to high gear here for “spring” races which really means March and April. Gotta get my booty in gear!

  5. 01/02/2011 16:10

    What would your personal triathlon include?
    1. running 2. cycling 3. boxing

    What are your favorite and least favorite months of the year?
    favorite- May (great racing, end of the school year, awesome weather)
    least favorite- January (too cold, I’ve gotten fat, not enough light, all around BLAH)

    Who else isn’t sad to see the winter holidays go?
    I hate winter, and it’s not even that cold here. Ick.

    Hope you get the foot thing taken care of really soon! Happy New Year!

    Ps. LOVE your little pictures!

  6. 01/02/2011 17:04

    at my college, there was a so-called triathlon in which you broke up into teams of three and had to, as a group, smoke a quantity of weed (I forget the specific amount, and as a non-toker, it doesn’t mean much to me anyway), eat a large Domino’s pizza, and drink a 12-pack of beer. Or was it a case of beer? Okay, obviously, I never did it, although I’m told the pot was the kicker.

    My triathlon would include playing TextTwist, chopping onions, and putting in my contact lenses. I can do all of those things very well.

    P.S. – While injured a few years ago, I did a tri. Was never a great biker or swimmer, so I wasn’t enamored. Sending healing vibes northward to your foot, but saving some for mine.

  7. 01/02/2011 18:08

    I think this may be your greatest drawing achievement yet 😀 sorry your foot is still bothering you. I don’t have personal experience with bursitis, but it doesn’t sound fun.

    Keep up the cross training, and if you do a tri after all this you’ll definitely have my awe and admiration. (Not that you don’t have it already.) hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Anyhow, heal up quick!

    • 01/02/2011 18:13

      Hmm, guess I failed to answer the questions. Here it goes:
      1) running – because I like it; biking – because I really need to improve at it; dairy showing ( the showing of dairy cattle) – I’m good at it AND I like it.

      2) I really like fall- October may be my fav in spite of all the craziness of harvest. March tends to be wet, yucky, and full of unpredictable blizzards, so least fav is probably Marxh.

      3) Christmas is grand, but can be stressful. I’m ready for January!

  8. 01/03/2011 01:37

    My least favorite months are August/September. You’ve been hot all summer and you’re dying for relieve, but it does not come. Sometimes (not this year) we’re still in the 90’s in December. I then want to punch babies. My favorite months are all the rest because they’re cool and this is Florida.

    My triathlon: Running, mixing the perfect gin and tonic, then taking a nap.

    I’m glad the holidays are over…so much money.

  9. 01/03/2011 06:49

    Also also also:

    HATE holidays. Hate Christmas music. hate hype. Hate commercialism. blah blah blah.

    Personal Triathlon: Vodka, pizza and running. Probably not in that order.

    Months: Really depends on what I’m doing and what the weather is doing. I have an odd love for March based on St. Patrick’s day races and parades. I’m weird.

  10. 01/03/2011 07:01

    Sorry about your foot dude!! So frustrating, I know. Have your tried alcohol and/or street drugs? They work wonders for my day to day aches and pains (AND my self-confidence!)


    They don’t have any decent races here in Indy this time of year either. A 5 miler in Feb, a few 5ks. I’d like to do a nice long race but apparently I’m the only one.

  11. Murdoch permalink
    01/03/2011 09:05

    Im with you on January and February being miserable for training, no matter what its cold and windy and icy. A couple of times last week I woke up, looked outside at the snow and jumped on the bike trainer.

    April is by far the best month, its usually just warm enough and you feel like running 100MPW because its so nice out.

    Personal Tri would be a 1/2 marathon, Mountain Bike Ride and Big Mac eating challenge.

  12. 01/03/2011 11:30

    March is my birthday month too!
    I hate the bike so much more than the elliptical, but elliptical isn’t great for foot injuries anyway. I hope you heal soon.
    Texas racing season ENDS in April, or even earlier.

  13. 01/03/2011 17:18

    these paint skills should be an olympic sport.

    wow daylight until 4:18. i’d kill myself. i whine about it being dark at 5:45.

    hmm personal triathlon: eating m&m’s, i wouldn’t even have to complete two other sports because all my competitors would be eliminated.

  14. 01/03/2011 19:33

    Another lover of the paint skills, you’re great. Sorry about your foot, we do share that, for sure. Triathlons do seem the perfect way to deal with the cross-training while going for a goal at the same time. Plus, since it’s 3 sports, you can really use these months ahead. That said, your description of the bad shit that goes down in a triathlon is hilarious but exactly what I think it must be like, too.

  15. 01/04/2011 08:18

    Some dudes in my running club recently completed the following triathlon (of sorts) in 24 hours – 24 beers, 24 donuts, 24 miles. I don’t think I could ever do that, but I was super impressed.

    Huzzah for getting jacked this winter. I did some crunches yesterday – does that count??

  16. 01/05/2011 23:10

    Sorry about the foot — hopefully it’ll come good before the warmer months. Quite warm here now — I’m running at 7.30pm tonight (in the daylight) 😉

    Ah, not sure about triathlons. A triathlon maybe. I ‘did’ triathlons for a couple of years in the ’90s (swimming for X-training after an injury) and my running went backwards. If you can triathlon train 2+ hours a day your running might go forwards.

    I don’t excel at anything, but my personal triathlon would be flat-water kayaking, biking, running… OR, 200m swim, 10k bike, 20k run. My favourite months of the year are February, March, April — least favourite July, August, September.

  17. 01/13/2011 09:54

    I have been working on the pull-up thing (admitedly not working hard enough at it) since August. I’m a such a weenie.

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