Monday, January 17, 2011

Six Beautiful Miles, One Tired Trainer

Consider the Yaktrax used! I wore them today for the first time, and for about six miles of what could possibly have been the most enjoyable winter run I've ever been on.

I met up with a group of people from the gym—serious athletes with impressive strength and endurance—at Grand Mere State Park. It's situated along the sandy (currently snowy and frozen) shores of Lake Michigan, and it's a truly beautiful place to be on a bright winter morning. Despite the low temperatures.

Back to the Yaktrax. It's amazing how much traction they provide in the snow! I guess that's to be expected since they virtually installed a series of coils along the bottom of my running shoes:

Yeah, I'll be the first to admit that my running shoes are severely lacking in the traction department (clearly you can see the worn out spots in the tread), but these are my old shoes. I like to keep my indoor shoes as pristine as possible, which is probably silly, but that's me for ya. A bit anal retentive, so help me. And really, with the Yaktrax on I hardly even noticed my lack of tread. I felt secure in my steps (as secure as one can be when you find yourself stomping through deep snow), so consider this my Yaktrax recommendation.

I also recommend running outside during the winter, most especially if you can access the trails at a state park.

Our six-mile adventure took us across a web of trails in the dunes and along the lake shore. The snow was fluffy in areas, which lead me to believe that I was on trails not usually traveled by the masses. This was nice, it truly put me in touch with nature—nice to be off the beaten path for a change, however it's a very good thing I was with a group of people so very used to running Grand Mere because, geeze. I got so turned around! Either I was too busy soaking up the experience to keep track of where we were running, or I was just too busy keeping up. Running in the dunes = running up and down hills. Now, I'm not the world's biggest hill fan, so I struggled a bit but ultimately hung in there. And I definitely enjoyed the occasional descent.

And the flat, wide trails where I could really sink into my stride.

I'll say it again: This was quite possibly the most enjoyable winter run I've ever been on. It took me out of my comfort zone for sure, and ultimately tested my fitness. And that's a really good thing. I now know that I need to work on my cardio as it pertains to hills. I need to push myself a little harder at the gym so that I can make it up hill after hill with ease. It's entirely possible, and I'm not far from it, but I'm not there. And that means more work for me.

I urge you to test your own fitness by going outside of your fitness comfort zone. Take that class you've been keeping your eye on, try that cardio machine you always see people on. Run with those people that keep inviting you to join them. You'll experience new things, and it'll show you where you need to improve. And it'll help you avoid that ever-dreaded fitness rut.

Question: Have you taken yourself outside your fitness comfort zone lately? Done anything new and exciting that truly challenged you to work harder than you've ever worked before? Tell me about it.

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