March 1, 2011

Where there's a Will there's a way...

It would be fair to say that we're having a pretty serious winter in Banff this year. The snow came a little late but pretty much since January rolled around we have been in serious winter mode. Living in the Canadian Rockies this should come as no real suprise but even locals are remarking at just how cold and snowy it has been. Normally we get cold snaps of a few days and then the temperatures warm up again (relatively speaking) but this winter is has been more cold with a few warm snaps thrown in. Not the best running weather for sure!

This past weekend I wanted to get two long runs in and due to working in the week, long runs are either done at the weekend or not at all. On Sunday it was fairly mild (minus 15 or so, and yes I am serious when I say that is pretty mild!) and it was mostly sunny so perfectly ok to bundle up and head out onto the trails and roads for 4h30mins. Unfortunately Banff runners have been forced onto the roads more as with the recent snowstorms the trails are pretty inaccessible right now. There are always a few options like going up Sulphur mountain which is a well used trail so the snow is always packed down, but most trails around here see little human traffic so it's often a case of knee-deep exploration. So Sunday's run was ok - I was glad to be outside, I enjoyed the fresh air and I managed not to get too frustrated with the amount of snow on the trails.

Monday was a different matter. I woke up and it was a snow storm. Ok, I thought - I'm not planning to head out until the heat of the middle of the day so likely the snow will ease off. At about 11am I headed into town to run a few errands and that was enough of a mission: it was still minus 22, but that was before windchill and there was decent wind driving the snow right into my face. I hunkered down into my down jacket and trudged through the drifting snow on the sidewalk home. For while I considered doing 2hrs outside and then going to the gym to finish of my run but I think the point when I decided not to run outside at all was when I was seriously considering ski goggles and a headlamp (so traffic would see me through the blowing snow). Yeah, this was not going to be either fun workout or a quality workout.
So I trudged up to the gym (a friendly local stopped to offer me a ride the weather was that bad). I had one aim - beat my 2h30min treadmill PB!!!

Luckily as this was middle of the day Monday the gym was pretty quiet so I got all set up on my treadmill, it was kind of like getting the car ready for a long drive - everything within easy reach to make this as enjoyable as an experience as possible. Four bottles of water and Clif electrolyte drink, shot blocks, gels and the all important iPod (with fully charged battery). In I plugged myself and off I went.....

As I had run Frozen Ass 50km the week before which is a very flat course I had really wanted to be on the trails to get some elevation and variable terrain in the mix. Well, there might be no roots and rocks on a treadmill but I varied the pace and the incline and even threw in some very steep power hike hills to add to variety.

As the treadmill automatically times out after 30mins this nicely split the workout into manageable chunks as did switching my music every 30mins. It would also be worth noting that 2hr treadmill sessions have become pretty standard for me this winter so to try do a long run on the treadmill was less of a mental challenge for me that for someone who never runs on a treadmill. I had some good company with another woman who was on the treadmill next to me for over an hour, a definite sense of solidarity as I think we both knew that we weren't just running, we needed to run because we were training. There were also the demoralisaing companions who walked on the treadmill at a pace slower than a stroll, and they looked younger than me and not especially unfit. I just tried to ignore them as I ploughed on.

I did have to chuckle at myself as I chomped away on Clif shot blocks, tested out some gels and chugged back my fluids. I would say about 50% of the people in the gym I go to go in order to lose weight so what they thought of me happily muching away on all these calories I'm not sure! But who cares, I kept well fuelled and it was good to practice doing so, sometimes when it is so cold outside the temptation is to not stop to drink or eat so being in a warm gym was good to get back into that rotuine. I also figured that even if the gym was not super hot, it was a darn sight nearer the temperatures that I will be running in at Comrades and Western that it was outside!

So all in all, I plodded on, got a solid work out in and tumbled off the t-mill feeling still suprisingly sprighly 4hrs after I had got on. T-mill PB smashed!

Now please, could we just have some warmer weather please?


  1. That is crazy! Being on the treadmill gives you a place to store all your gel and water.

  2. 4 hours?!!!! Oh wow, that is a LOT. Good for you getting through it, and yeah, better temps for those races indeed.

    Ever try snowshoe running?

  3. I say time to call Guiness and have a crack at a treadmill marathon/50km world record (I can't find a listed woman's time for either) or

    you might get a free gym membership out of it :)

  4. I hear ya. I'm training in Winnipeg, and the weather is getting quite tiresome. I've been pushed to the treadmill recently because I'm just so sick of the cold and wind.
    Best of luck in your training and racing this year.

  5. hey sara - ironically enough I snowshoe ran a bit when I lived in Vancouver, but not since I've been in Banff - must do that though!
    Adam - I'll have to sort that 30min automatic time out if I go for that record idea :)
    Joel - nice to know it's not just Banff that is getting the big freeze, hope you get some warm weather soon.
    Brenda - let's just call it WS panic training - don't dare stop training so got to get the miles in one way or another :) Hope your training is going well x

  6. We did an 18k here in Grande Prairie on Saturday and we felt like we were snow shoe running but we were not the trails were so drifted. The TM is my wind savior I don't mind the cold -20ish but the wind oh the wind! My PB on the TM is 2:30. 4 is a long time. I have to say I should practive more nutrition on the TM.

  7. 4 hours on a treadmill? That does sound like you have the WS fear :) Me too.

  8. Incredibly impressive! Amazing the mental toughness getting that in.

    You should be able to find the codes online to reprogram the treadmill and change the automatic shutoff. It's usually just a matter of holding down a sequence of buttons and changing the time.

  9. Ian - you have fear? I think the ultra world has fear of you! A little Comrades fear thrown into the mix too :)
    Derrick - that suggestion made me laugh...but surely my gym membership will be revoked!! I think they might already start charging me extra for wear and tear on their treadmills!

  10. Nice work! We just got another foot of snow and January-like temps too, but I haven't been nearly that motivated. I might just try that, though.

  11. Alison - see you at Chuckanut, I am so looking forward to green trails :)
    Janette - thanks for the respect but really I think 4hrs on treadmill is slight sign of obsession! Today was much warmer, still a tonne of snow but I got OUTSIDE - even if it was sloooow trudge in the snow :) Just beautiful!

  12. Been on the treaded dreadmill a lot myself this winter, watching many a movie. I have a challenge - run on the mill and watch Carlos the Jackal, at 5:39:35 runtime it sounds like your kinda movie! (I watched it in a wimpy two sittings....)