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.)
3. NO RACING OPPORTUNITIES UNTIL APRIL.
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.)
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?
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?)