No slacking off in preparation for my January half marathon here.

The past week’s workouts were:
Monday: Body Pump class, 1 hour
Tuesday: Rest (scheduled)
Wednesday: 3 miles on treadmill
Thursday: Speed workout
Friday: 1.75 miles on treadmill (4 were scheduled)
Saturday: 5.25 miles outside (3 were scheduled, plus 2.25 mile make up from Friday)
Sunday: Rest (6 miles scheduled)
Monday: 6 miles outside
Tuesday (today): 1/2 hour of cross training planned for after this post

Charleston Half, here I come!
Charleston Half, here I come!

I had been facing some discouragement between feeling more sluggish during cold winter nights, as well as my weekly speed workouts leaving me with the aches and pains I experienced when I first started running (tighter muscles and such), but I’ve been working through it. If I missed a day from feeling sluggish in the cold, I switched around my rest days in my weekly schedule to stay on track with the mileage I mean to get in. My PRO Compression socks have been getting put to a lot of use, as was my treadmill.

The treadmill, however, is finally getting kicked to the curb, I think, except in case of extreme weather. A little dry cold won’t be enough from here on out to hide inside. I thought the treadmill would give me a good workout, and while that may be true for my upper body, it just made transitioning back outside onto the road even harder. It is a MUCH harder mental workout, and on Friday, my mind won.

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Over the weekend, though, it was unseasonably warm, downright pretty even. Still, I found it hard to get myself moving on a day where I just wanted to read The Hunger Games books. But after an evening Christmas party, I felt the outdoors nagging at me, my blood begging to get moving. So when I got home, at 11pm, I laced up and struck out in the gorgeous night weather in just a t-shirt and capris.

It was GLORIOUS. Though the impact of pavement (and at times, grass) left my ankles pretty salty at me, it was exactly what I needed to get excited about running again. Somehow I was slogging through my weekly work, but not happily. Getting back outside, treading my route again was exactly what I needed. Speed work and the treadmill were leaving me highly conscious of what my pace can be (and therefore what I began thinking it “should” be), but being outside without a stop watch ticking off my every quarter mile was all about running happy.

After such a refreshing run on Saturday, the rain came down on Sunday. Plus, I was completely enthralled in Catching Fire and stayed up until 4am just to finish it. So a momentary setback when I had 6 miles planned for the day, but I made up for it yesterday.

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Why run during the daylight during Christmastime when you can run at night and drink in everyone’s Christmas lights? It was way better than driving along and creepily slowing down in front of everyone’s house, that’s for sure. Through my cold breath and being close enough to see everyone’s small touches on their decorations, I felt like I was finally experiencing the Christmas season. I haven’t been actually out shopping much this season, due to lack of money and desire to fight crowds, so just like when running through fall foliage provided me a tactile experience with this year’s autumn instead of having to pay for hayrides or admission to pumpkin patches, my own two feet afforded me a Starbucks-free, shopping mall-free, long line-free Christmastime tour.

The six miles felt hard, on my ankles and shins especially, and times on certain hills in my neck of the woods had me gritting my teeth, creasing my brow, mouthing the words to my playlist just to mentally egg myself on, but regardless of what kind of physical or mental “work” out is better – outside or the treadmill – these six miles were invaluable to me. I’ll still do my speedwork once a week and my strength training once a week, but the rest of my scheduled miles will be done not from “what will make me a better runner” but from “what will bring me joy?” Which means, outside.

Merry Christmas!

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