Winter warmer (a success story)

There’s no tear-jerking heart warming story here. Sorry if that’s what you’re expecting! But there’s a bit of personal success and my not particularly novel way of keeping warm. Still with me? No. Ok then.

Ah, but somebody is still reading. Thanks. It’s easier not to but you’re sticking with it for now. In that respect, reading this blog post is a bit like running as Autumn gives way to Winter. It’s easy to be lazy and not bother, easy to find excuses not to run. Easy to lack the discipline. Personally, I’ve traditionally always been a bit of a ‘tomorrow’ person when it comes to healthy pursuits and diet. Why start today when by tomorrow, with a concerted effort, I can have grazed my way through a fridge full of cheese, a cupboard full of cakes or finished off all the kids ‘treats’?

Even with my running head* on I’ve found it easier to run slowly and further, rather than step up the pace, as I’ve been more than ready to do for some time now.

But the last few weeks have been something of a revelation. Rather than work my way through volumes 1-23 of Better Excuses Than The Dog Ate My Trainers, or worry about the various strains of tropical and man flu coarsing through each and every sinew of my being, I’ve kept going. Apart from a small blip caused by a stomach bug and a genuine cough** I have turned out for a regular run. The results – greater fitness, lower weight, and less stress despite increased workload.

Things were going well, then I had a really fantastic run. It was so good that I decided to compare part of it with a similar run over 12 months previously (courtesy of the abilities of my Garmin 305 which I will, as I have already said a few posts back, review in a future post). In shattering my course record (for a favourite 10 mile route) by some eight minutes, I also managed to run the fourth mile, all up hill with a notoriously steep section, three minutes faster than I had 12 months previously.  I’d like to put this improvement down to some miracle formula which I could bottle and sell (not that I condone performance enhancing supplements). But I can’t. It’s down to nothing else other than determination and dedication. From me!

And now I’m able to train faster, pushing my workouts to the next level and, this is the ‘warming’ part of the story, I don’t need as many layers of clothing. I’d always run in the minimum amount of clothing to allow me to walk home, without suffering severe frost bite and hyperthermia, to my front door from the furthest point along my route. This often required the donning of ‘tracky’ trousers, sweatshirts, hoodies etc – or ‘Jeremy Kyles’ as some of my teaching colleagues refer to such items when they wear them to take a PE lesson. These days, if I wore so many layers I’d have heatstroke within a couple of miles. Running faster keeps me warmer. Shock!

As the colder weather appeared at the begining of the week with a bit of snow and minus temperatures, I put it to the test. Despite the cold and sleet and wind I’ve run faster. And now the house does not appear to be quite as much of an industrial laundry premises than it would have done otherwise. 

It’s easier to plod along slowly but going faster has helped my fitness, saves time and saves on electricity and gas costs. Indeed, I have an almost recession proof running strategy!

With a bit of conscientious effort I’ve managed to overcome the inadequate levels of determination I showed at a similar time last year, partly inspired by the hundreds of daily comments on the excellent Runners Forum. I just felt I had to share that – I guess for me there’s a real feel good factor. But that’s why the determination is there to keep going. And just to make sure I do, I’ve entered a half-marathon for the end of March as a carrot to tempt me into running further and faster, and a stick to beat myself with whenever  I feel I can’t be bothered!.


*Please note – I am not Worzel Gummidge (for those of you who remember the kiddies TV favorite scarecrow with interchangeable heads)!

** When I say ‘cough’ I am, of course, playing down something far more serious, never yet encountered in the medical world. Not even in the parallel universe inhabited by those who need to ‘man-up’ a bit. But I survived.