Tuesday, January 24, 2012

As merry as the snow is deep

When the weather is nice, it doesn’t take much coaxing to get yourself out the door for a run. Any argument to the contrary has very little substance. Like, would you ever say to yourself, “Sunny and 65 again. Great. Just Great. How am I supposed to train in such perfect conditions? God and Tim Tebow are obviously conspiring against me.”

No. You wouldn’t. You would sound like a whiny tool.

But when you’ve just survived the blizzard of the century—a storm that warranted the closure of public schools in Montana—a little whining is absolutely acceptable. In fact, if you didn’t complain about the snow, you wouldn’t have much to add to the water cooler conversation at work.

As a runner, however, you have way more cause for complaint than the run-of-the-mill “I had to dig my car out of the driveway,” or “I got stuck in the middle of the roundabout on the way to the office.”

Although it is easy to fall victim to a “poor me” kind of attitude when the weather is less than ideal, this is exactly the sort of situation when us runners most need our skills in positive self-talk.

So, in the spirit of reckless optimism, here are a few examples of ways to correct yourself when negative thoughts about winter running threaten to poison your psyche.

What you’re thinking: Why doesn’t anyone shovel their freaking sidewalk? I’m going to end up spraining my ankle on one of these frozen foot-divots, and then I’m going to sue the person that lives here for thousands of dollars.

What you should be thinking: All of this slick, uneven terrain is doing wonders for my foot and ankle strength. Whoever lives here must be a big proponent of stability exercises.

What you’re thinking: My feet are numb and soaking wet. This sucks worse than anything that has ever sucked before.

What you should be thinking: All of the extra water weight in my shoes is giving me an added strength-building benefit. Once I’m running on dry land, I will feel lightning-quick and totally unstoppable.

What you’re thinking: Running in freezing rain shouldn’t be allowed. I feel like the wind is purposely stabbing each icy droplet directly into my cornea.

What you should be thinking: Free exfoliation! Think of how much I’d have to pay at the spa for this sort of facial treatment!

What you’re thinking: It’s time to buy an effing gym membership.

What you should be thinking: I’m glad I’m not hiding out on the treadmill like some loser pansy. I’m a huge badass for running in this crap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home body

From the time I understood the concept of money, I have been a saver. As a child, I meticulously recorded every Tooth-Fairy-quarter deposit and gumball-machine withdrawal on a ledger inside of the shoebox that contained my life savings.

My frugality followed me into adulthood, and it has served me well in most respects. (I say “most,” because in some cases, you really do get what you pay for. Case in point: bottles of wine that cost less than $5.)

Anyway, when my gym membership expired a few months ago and I was faced with the decision of whether to shell out the cash to purchase a new one, I naturally wanted to make sure that I was getting the best possible deal. Actually, if I’m being totally honest, my membership didn’t so much “expire” as it was “revoked by the manager” after she found out that I was still using the free children’s membership on my parents’ account. She didn’t buy into my argument that since President Obama says you can stay on your parents’ health insurance until you’re 26, you should be able to stay on your parents’ health club membership until you’re 26. I guess you can only work the system for so long.

After a few weeks of shopping around, I still hadn’t found a price that suited my needs or tastes. Plus, due to my propensity for extreme cheapness, I took great pleasure in the fact that my workouts weren’t costing me a dime. In the meantime, I maintained my muscular fitness by performing a variety of strength exercises in the comfort of my own home. After a few workouts, I had developed an entire fitness regimen using nothing more than a chair, my kitchen table and one 20-pound dumbbell that I found at the back of my closet. And you know what? I might never set foot inside a gym again. And if you tried it, you might not either.

“Impossible!” you say. “I’m much too serious an athlete to be doing sit-ups in my living room!”

Well, I have four Big Sky Conference track and field medals, and I’m here to tell you that you’re never too serious for a home workout. Here’s why:

1. You never have to wait for equipment. It never fails: at the gym, once you’ve gotten into a perfect rhythm and you’re totally in the zone, some annoying meathead will plop his big, sweaty, steroid-pumping ass down at your station, where he’ll remain for the next 35 minutes. You will be forced to completely rework your routine, and the interruption will throw off your entire workout. But at home, you get to use whatever you want, whenever you want—just as long as the things you want include a 20-pound weight or a kitchen table.

2. You can sweat as much as you want without embarrassment. When I work out, I get sweaty. Like, really, really sweaty. I’ve always been self-conscious of the perspiration splatters, drops and puddles that seem to follow me wherever I go, especially if the weight room is full of cute boys. When I’m at home, the only thing I have to worry about is ruining the carpet, and in the apartment I live in, that’s pretty much a non-issue.

3. You don’t have to listen to Steve Winwood. Nothing ruins a good workout faster than bad music. How am I supposed to get my swell on with “Bring me a higher love…di dee di dee di di” blaring in the background? At home, I can get pumped up with my own iTunes playlist or my “Fergalicious” station on Pandora.

4. You can work out in your underwear. Although exercising in your unmentionables is generally frowned upon in most gyms, you don’t have to think twice about it in the privacy of your own living room. It might sound weird, but it’s actually much cooler and less restrictive—plus, you’re left with less dirty laundry!