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Cross training: crushing immediate hopes and dreams to build a better runner.

For all of you who have not been sentenced to endless weeks of pool running, let me tell you a secret: an 83 degree pool is not warm. An 82 degree pool is toe-numbing, And an 81 degree pool pretty much falls into the category of "cruel and unusual."  The moment I finally convinced myself to get into the pool today - after staring at the water for an inordinate amount of time as my cold-induced anxiety continued to build - I was once again reminded of why most mammals without large stores of blubber live on land.  Here's my rationale for being a land dweller - the minute I submerge myself in water below about that glorious 90 degree mark my skin turns into a sheet of goosebumps and I start to shiver in such a way that the hardy, adaptable swimmers in other lanes probably laugh at me.  Intervals help the issue to an extent, but don't quite warm me up, no matter how hard I "run" them.  Case and point: I got out of the pool over two hours ago now and I'm still a human icicle.  I'm wearing a hat and a fleece jacket and am curled up under a blanket, I'd wear mittens if I could type in them.  Maybe worse than not running in the unseasonably beautiful weather we've been having is dealing with the much dreaded cold. I should really be grateful and appreciate what I can do and the fitness I can maintain, but alas I'm a runner not a fish.

In other news from "Injuryland," I did go for a pretty awesome bike ride yesterday.  I biked from my house to Garden of the Gods, back through downtown and then up to North Cheyenne Canyon for total of just over 50 km. It was chilly starting out, but riding up the canyon warms a person up (just to refreeze them once they turn around to head downhill).

Now, a note on how entertaining it is to bike with a Garmin.  I should say that my Garmin is not particularly bright to begin with, but biking really confuses the poor dear - it makes these occasional "ding" noises and then says something like "New Mile Record 1:58," yes, Garmin feel free to believe that I just ran a mile in 1:58. 

I have a love-hate relationship with biking - I love biking up hills because it at least feels like it will translate into running; I am not so fond of the temperamental nature of road bikes though. You hit an invisible piece of gravel, for example, and it's time to patch a tire. Ice or water, even little patches, present their own challenges on tires no wider than my thumb.  Lastly, you're obviously confined to roads, which generally have traffic which is a bit scary.  I have, however, come to sort of (very begrudgingly) like biking (at least, unlike pool running, hypothermia is not an immediate threat), so I think it's time to sell the road bike and buy a mountain bike in the spring so I can ride more places and essentially go on better biking adventures than roads alone allow.

 I am - slowing and reluctantly, of course - coming to see the value of cross training, so biking is probably here to stay. That said, cross training is only the crusher of hopes, dreams, and souls if you let it be - it just takes some creativity and determination to get through the monotony of not running (trust me, the boredom of the pool will not actually be the end of you).  It's devastating in that you have to re-prioritize and change your immediate goals. I'm a goal oriented person, I don't give up easily and taking time away from running, even for an injury, feels in so many ways like giving up.  This really isn't the case - so much of the sport is mental, learning to deal with normal human setbacks like injuries is only making a better athlete in the long term.  After all, every hour spent in the pool or on a bike is building a smarter, stronger runner who is more dedicated to the sport.  

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