Mile Markers: Polar Vortex

Mile Markers: Polar Vortex

After a relatively mild start to winter, a polar vortex descended upon the Great Lakes region this week. On Wednesday, the actual temperature did not reach above zero and the wind chill reached dangerous levels at -40. Granted, I selfishly loved this because Ryan’s work encouraged their employees to work from home. I loved having his company on Monday through Thursday!

I went into this week with no plan. The treadmill and indoor track are wonderful tools, but I can never plan out my runs too rigidly on them. Sometimes the indoor track feels terribly hot and dry, sometimes the treadmill makes my hips feel tight and my brain feel numbed with boredom. But some days, I can get into a good groove with them and cruise along easily for an hour.

I did slack on strength training this week. Running has come back with relative ease after my fracture; the same cannot be said for strength training. I have plenty of resources at my disposal, I have the time, and I have the energy – I just am struggling with getting back into two strength workouts per week. 

Mile Markers: Polar Vortex

Monday: 35 minute snowshoe run

Overnight, several inches of fresh snow fell. It was also the warmest morning for the foreseeable forecast. I wagered it was safer to run on my snowshoes (since I can walk to a large park) than drive to the gym, and I really wanted some fresh air before negative temperatures required treadmill or indoor track runs.

Snowshoe running in deep, fresh powder is hard and humbling. Doing a snowshoe run in the middle of a snowstorm on the day after a hard strength workout is even more humbling. I averaged about a 15:30 min/mile pace for this run; I had to walk uphills and some downhills due to the snow depth and my legs didn’t have the power to go too fast. But snowshoe running isn’t about going fast, it’s about working hard at something different.

Mile Markers: Polar Vortex

Overall, this was a good run! By the time I finished, I was caked in snow, happy, and ravenous. 

Tuesday: 45 min indoor track run

By Tuesday morning, the wind chill was already well below zero. I simply am not comfortable running in minus zero wind chills, so I bundled up and drove to the Y. I started my run on the indoor track with the intention to split the run between the track and treadmill.

While I ran, I listened to the most recent episode of the Strength Running podcast. I got so wrapped up in listening to Jason interview Sarah Canney about snowshoe running that the first 15 minutes – which are always the most sluggish minutes of a run – passed by quickly. I was feeling good and so I opted to stay on the indoor track. 

Even after my headphones died near the halfway point, I still kept up on the indoor track. My run turned into a natural progression until the 40 minute mark/40 laps mark, with my last few laps around 53-54 seconds (~7:15/mile pace). I have realized my Garmin’s accelerometer is not accurate, so I simply use my Garmin as a stopwatch and manually record the laps. This gives me an accurate sense of distance and pace and helps me not lose track. After I finished 40 laps, I cooled down until I reached 45 minutes. 

Wednesday: 20 minutes Pilates

According to Accuweather, the wind chill plummeted to minus 50 degrees. The actual temperature was minus 20. Our gym was closed so running was not an option at all. Although honestly, I probably would not have driven to the gym in this weather. Instead of leaving the house, I did Pilates from home. 

Thursday: Rest day

So Thursday was warmer, but not much warmer. For a better part of the day, the temperatures were still well below zero with even worse windchills. With the promise of three warmer days (three potential outdoor runs!), I stayed home. I intended to strength train with Ryan but by the time evening reached, I lost all motivation. I am definitely a morning exerciser! 

Friday: 55 minute run

The sidewalks and roads were a mess. But this was the first time since Monday I had been outdoors, so I was just happy enough that the temperature was above zero. I set out with no plan for this run. The first 10 minutes were sluggish through the slush, and then things clicked and the run felt really good. 

Mile Markers: Polar Vortex

Saturday: 48 minute run

Poor Ollie has spent most of this winter cooped up due to the cold and ice. Ryan and I took him with us on our run, which tired him out for most of the day. The 40 degree temperatures felt warm compared to earlier this week! 

Sunday: 30 minute run 

Unlike Saturday, Sunday’s weather was a gross 40 degrees, humid, and gray. I made the mistake of overdressing – it’s so easy to do so when the temperatures swing like this! Once I got past some icy patches, this run felt good – an 8:18/mile average! I feel ready to add in some actual structured speedwork this next week. 

Mile Markers: Polar Vortex

[Tweet “From snowshoe running to the indoor track, a week of training around a polar vortex via @thisrunrecipes #running”]

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6 Responses

  1. What a week! It sure felt good to get back outside, didn’t it? I think one hour is my limit on the treadmill too. Let’s hope we’re done with that bitter cold.

  2. Snowshoeing in deep snow is SO humbling!! I haven’t done it in a while but I never look at my watch and just focus on trying to breathe 🙂 Hopefully the worst of the vortex is behind you (and us) because it was pretty brutal. I’m always SO grateful for my treadmill during brutal weather conditions and the same went for last week!!

  3. Your snowshoe run sounds like one of mine recently. Humbling is putting it mildly. I broke down and used the treadmill this week too. It wasn’t so bad with the right music. I actually kind of enjoyed the change of scenery…even though the scenery didn’t change. ?

  4. I’ve yet to try snowshoe running – I find walking with them difficult enough!

    Supposedly we are getting some polar vortex this week, but it’s not all that extreme for Montana. We’re “only” getting down to -10 or so.

  5. Despite how sick I am of this crazy cold and snow, your snow pictures ARE quite beautiful! I’m from northern MN and still have yet to snowshoe run. You’ve inspired me! Hope you’re staying warm – we’re still dealing with blizzard after blizzard… This winter needs to just calm down!

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