I'm still getting used to the ever-adjusting weather down here in the South, but there is one thing that I have learned fairly conclusively. I will never be dressed for my run correctly.
This includes wearing jackets on sunny days and short sleeves in rain. If there is any kind of extreme in the weather, I simply won't be ready for it. And I know what you're thinking: check the forecast beforehand. This is excellent advice, but it doesn't really help me out all that much. For one thing, the temperature changes absurdly quickly down here, so even if I dress correctly for the beginning of the run, I might be in a completely different climate by the time I'm done. My main problem, though, is that I haven't yet adjusted to relative temp.
Relative temp is the idea that a temperature only means something in the context of the surrounding weather. For example, a 50-degree day in Chicago in February is a heat wave, and people contemplate going for a swim. Alternately, a 50-degree day in Texas in June is downright Arctic, and a possible sign of the apocalypse.
My mind is still set on Chicago temps, where 50 degrees at this time of year is a short-sleeve kind of morning. My body, on the other hand, has quickly shifted to Texas living, and the second I step outside, I know I was wrong again.
In general, I'd rather be underdressed than overdressed, at least when it comes to running. The exercise itself will heat up the muscles, so if I'm just a little too cold, I can be confident that I'll be comfortable by the end of the first mile. It's just all that much more important that I actually take the time to stretch before I go outside. Knowing all of this, I just wore a thin, long-sleeve t-shirt today, though I felt a chill in the air when I woke up.
While 50 degrees is a relative temperature, 38 degrees is cold anywhere you go. I had no idea it was going to be that cold this morning, but there I was, breath steaming out in front of me, and the National Weather Service confirmed it later.
Yeah, that was me out there before 7 this morning. But look at that swing in temp! It was 57 by 10:00! It was probably already in the mid-forties by the time I finished my run. I recognize that I'll be absolutely praying for this kind of weather in a few months, but for now I just stand in amazement. Well, I'm sitting, but you get the idea.
With the exception of one stop for a stretch, I felt strong the entire way this morning. Hal told me that this was the "hard" workout of the week, so I should feel free to push myself a little bit. Even though I'm getting all of this information off the website, I actually feel somewhat like Hal is personally giving me advice, and that I'm letting him down if I don't take it.
In general, I'm finding it much easier to stay at a stronger pace this time around, which I'm sure is just the combination of the fact that I'm running fewer miles than I have in a while and that I've been running for several months. I may have to adjust my goal race pace to reflect the strength I'm finding. For now, I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself. I still have a few creaks I'm trying to work out from last weekend, and I don't want to take the risk of hurting myself because of a quick 5 miles.
Still, I felt good this morning. I feel like the muscles in my legs are getting stronger. I can feel them working as I push up the hills, and they relax on their own when I head back down. The whole motion is feeling more automated, which probably has something to do with the fact that I'm focusing on maintaining pace now, so my form deals with itself.
And with a constant form and very consistent pacing, I feel like I'm becoming a solid runner again, and that I can actually count on and predict my performance from one day to the next.
The weather? Well that's another story.
38 Degrees / Clear
35 Minutes, 45 Seconds
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