Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Crazy Thought

Last night's run was not for the faint of heart.  Snowy, slippery sidewalks, -21 degrees with a biting wind, and 13 kilometres to run...alone.  By the time I got home I was half frozen.  My legs felt...well to be honest, I couldn't really feel them.  They were quite numb. 

When I realized how cold they were, I had a thought. Not a what the hell am I doing running in -21 degrees alone in the dark kinda thought.  A hey, I wonder if running in -21 degrees might actually be good for me kinda thought.   

Stick with me on this - it's crazy but kinda makes sense.

You see, running causes all sorts of challenges - shin splints, sore muscles, plantar faciitis and so on.  My typical pattern is that, once I reach 18k, things start hurting.  That's when I call my massage therapist in a panic and spend the rest of the training icing, stretching and trying to make it to race day in running shape. 

Well, I've run 18k and 20k and things still feel pretty damn good. No major pain, no daily icing, no panicked phone calls. What's up with that??

That's where the crazy thought comes in.

It occurred to me last night that running in the cold may actually be helping my legs.  Kinda like running in an ice bath. It prevents my muscles from overheating, swelling and then acting up on me.  Who would have thought?

Looking back, my legs are always at their worst by about August.  Weekly massages, shin splints, and Advil take over my life.  I just figured it was because I had been training hard since January and my legs were tired.  But maybe it's because, by August, I've been running in the heat for a few months.  Heat and humidity = lots of swelling.  

So my new hypothesis is: my legs do better in the winter because the cold keeps the swelling down.

Guess the next few weeks will prove whether or not I'm right. It's gonna suck if I have to move up to the Yukon during the summer months but it's a small price to pay for happy legs.

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