My spring training slowed when I landed a part-time job (20-30 hours a week) at the garden center in town. Physical exercise was a big part of the job – watering, rearranging plants, trimming shrubs and trees, dead-heading flowers, sweeping up debris, and loading soil for customers. When I wasn’t busy doing these chores I had to operate the cash register. Overall, it was enjoyable, but physically demanding work which left me exhausted at the end of my shift, so I limited my running to 3 miles every second day. I also had to work on the weekends which meant missing out on local running events.
The garden center closed a couple of weeks ago and now my training is back on schedule. Last week I did a couple of 3-mile runs and two longer sessions of 4 miles each. Although my focus is on distance rather than time my pace has gradually improved from over 12 minutes per mile a few months ago to slightly less than 11 minutes.
This week I did my first 5-mile run this year, with a fairly decent pace over the first half and then a dreadfully slow pace for the second half. The main thing is I did 5 miles in less than an hour! Yesterday, I set out to do four miles, but my Garmin battery went dead before I hit the 2-mile mark, so I slowed down, walked some, took some photos, ate some blueberries, and jogged home.
My favorite part of my route – flat, smooth, and some shade trees.
Stopped to pick some blueberries on this road.
This is a hilly, unpaved side road that I usually avoid.
This is a short trail though the woods.
I sometimes run on this path in the woods, but the terrain is rough.
The calendar may indicate spring, but the temperature and outdoor conditions are still wintry. It is a challenge to go out and run in the cold, surrounded by snow-covered landscapes, but I need a break from the boredom of the treadmill.
When I step out the door I feel so cold and miserable and I am tempted to return to my warm house. However, if I can withstand the freezing temperatures for a few minutes I will survive. So, I walk as fast as possible for 10 minutes to warm up before running. Thank goodness, in a few minutes, I start sweating and quickly forget about the frosty weather.
Last week I did three 3-mile runs and one 4-mile run. The running trails near my place are still too icy, so this means that I am limited to the main rural highway and some side roads in my neighborhood. Luckily there is virtually no traffic on the side roads, so it is possible to run in the center of the street where the pavement is less damaged and there are fewer potholes. Nonetheless, I have to pay close attention to my footing to avoid injuries and by doing this I usually miss the nature around me. There were lots of deer on the roads, but my huffing and puffing sent them running in the woods, making it difficult for me to get my camera out in time to snap many photos.
This is a side road that gets little traffic, so still plenty of snow here.
A couple of deer out for a run.
Close-up of one of the many potholes that I have to skirt around.
This is the road where I am training until the trails are open.
Looks like the trails won’t be ready for a few weeks.
Still too much snow here. Is it really spring?
This past week with the dawn of spring and milder temperatures on the horizon I decided to move my training from the ease of controlled pace, limited inclines, and comfortable conditions on the treadmill in the basement to the rural road and the reality of spring potholes, rough gravel, uneven pavement, melting ice, snow, and wind. My first outdoor 4-miler of 2017 is in the books with a time of 46:04 and I am quite happy with this because I didn’t push myself and I didn’t need a walking break – even on the hills.
During my winter training sessions on the treadmill I have gradually improved my endurance by doing 3 or 4 mile runs at least three times a week. Additionally, without focussing on time, I have lowered my pace from over 12 minutes per mile to slightly under 11 minutes. In April, I am planning on increasing my long run to 5 miles and doing 4 miles on the other days. I would also like to improve my pace, but at this point my main focus will remain on endurance.
In other news, this little deer has been hanging out in my backyard for a week or so and this is a solid sign that spring is here.
I am going to sign up for the Miramichi Rock ‘n Roll 10K on June 25, so I have approximately 3 months to get ready.