Cold Intervals, No Snow

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Post-Thanksgiving, I’m starving for snow.  But with temps below freezing and none of the fluffy white stuff, the workouts still go on.  In this case, afternoon rollerski intervals with my training partner, Frank.

Classic intervals, approximately 9 and a half minutes each. Five of them.  Alternating full technique and double-pole.  At least, trying to double-pole.  The pavement is so hard at these temperatures, it’s hard to get the pole tips to grab and stick.

Other than having to watch out for traffic and road debris, it’s much like a workout on the snow.  Heart rate rises and falls.  Sweat builds beneath jackets and then freezes during recovery.  The wind burns.  The dick freezes.  The sun dips, shadows lengthen and throw more cold onto working athletes.

Thus, five intervals are cranked out, despite my initial disbelief at such prospects.  I feel stronger on each full-technique, but the double-pole cripples me. In the end, it is a successful workout and I head home for another round of Thanksgiving leftovers.

 

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Freezing Rollerski

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While some of my friends are heading out to West Yellowstone or planning northerly trips to snow, I’m still on rollerskis. So while this morning’s sub-freezing temperatures were a welcome sign of winter, without snow it’s just another hurdle to overcome.  Honestly, I debated going out into the cold and the wind to do rollerski intervals.  But I did it anyway.

The first few minutes were tough, with the wind cutting through my tights, finding its way through the holes in my gloves and burning the exposed skin on my face.  It was a shock to my body that had been used to temps in the 40’s, not much less, up to this point.  But then it started to feel normal.

I did threshold intervals — 6-7 minutes long, skate technique, alternating between full technique and no-pole.  I still felt out of shape.  The cold didn’t make the rollerskis feel any faster.  The headwind forced me to a crawl on the finishing climb.  My legs — the muscles in my hips especially — felt woefully inadequate.

But I did it anyway.

Slowly Falling

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There was snow this morning.

First snow of the season. No accumulation. Just a taste. A promise of what’s to come. And a reminder of how slowly my fall is going.

I’m way behind compared to previous years. The marathon training took a bigger toll than I had realized. I got a virus in early October. Knocked me on my ass for a few days with body aches and exhaustion. I didn’t shake the fatigue until just last week.

I’ve had some non-exercise related stress, too. A lot, actually. I’m told that it is the primary contributor to my feelings of poor health.

Blood tests were negative. But my morning heart rate was still 5-10 beats above normal. Maybe I wasn’t sleeping enough? So I started sleeping more hours. Maybe I was drinking too much coffee? So I drank less. Maybe I wasn’t training hard enough? So I trained more. Maybe I was training too hard…?

In the past, I’ve been able to rely on exercise as a way to clear that stress. It’s not working so well right now. Poor sleep. Low energy. The difficulty of squeezing in workouts with dwindling daylight. It all prevents me from using my go-to panacea. Or maybe I just need to rest…

Or maybe bigger problems require harder workouts?