Cold. Snow. Weather. Repeat.

People keep asking me if I’m signing up for this year’s Hypothermic Half. This is the local half marathon series in February each year, the same where one gambles with one’s very safety and sanity by registering to run on a day that will either be (a) #coldAF or (b) literally the worst road conditions —ice, pebbled ice, oatmeal chop snow, fresh wet snow, or ankle-deep tire ruts— for a medal, a breakfast, and bragging rights for being a hard-edge CanadianMF who doesn’t let the snow and cold stop them from kicking nature’s ass.

I’m not signing up. Nature wins. I’m skipping a few years. I’ve run that, and the result has always been a great story, a good breakfast, but a miserable stretch of training, cuz, oh right, you need to winter-train for that race.

It’s been the worst this past two weeks. Worst. The winter training analogy to rolling a two, getting pwned in the tutorial level, or drawing the card with the instructions printed on it when playing high stakes poker. Why even bother weather. Worst.

It was cold. Bitter, miserable, frost-biting, asscheek-numbing, chew-the-skin-off-your-face cold.

Then the cold broke, but it snowed. Heavy, ankle-deep, cover-the-slick-ice-below snow. Six klicks through that the other night left me humbled and picking pebbled ice-wads from between my toes.

As a countermeasure, we’ve been mostly running inside. On a track. Warm. Dry. Flat. Round. And around. And around. Did I mention around, flat and boring? Another lap you say?

Weather, amIright? Do I read a bit bitter?

The solution has been cross-training. I gave myself a little rule this month. And next month. And frankly, until I feel like I want to start training-proper, so likely until late-March-ish. It’s the guilt-free run plan: I run when I run, how I run, if I run, and I don’t feel guilty… so long as I’m doing some cross-training.

We’ve been spinning. I have that Peloton app and the rec center does a gruelling session.

We’ve clocked about an hour on a rower.

The pool bekons me and I’ve been swimming laps.

The weight machines have counted a few rounds of reps. Grunt. Lift. Repeat.

And, a few round, and around, and around laps on the track.

It’s the great 2020-cross-training winter-rules guilt-free running-not-running plan.

I mean, there’s that whole spring and summer of races to think about, y’know later… but I’ll let the snow melt a bit before I get myself in a knot over that. And I’ll be sleeping in while the rest of you are out kicking nature’s ass in the Hypothermic Half this winter. And by the way I’m just fine with that.

The Commitment Equation

Commitment equals results.

Math! *mic drop

So, I signed up for a gym membership last night.

Well… let me back that up a bit.

I did some actual-factual numbers-and-money-related math and realized (ding-ding!) that calculating for the employee discount I get plus the savings from a payroll deduction credit against the pay-per-entry per-use cost of visiting the recreation center a mere four times per month, it would be better for me to just bite the bullet and sign up for an ongoing pass to the local facility.

Gym. Weights. Equipment. Track. Drop in classes. Instructors. Pool. Hot tub. Lockers. Cafe. Friends.

The math worked out, but (and I was explaining this to one of my fellow runners last night when he asked me about my decision to switch) there is another equation to consider besides just money: Commitment value.

See, buying a punch-pass is a great excuse to NOT go. Yeah, I get a discount. Yeah, I have a dozen punches on my card. But every one of those punches represents what (in my head, at least) could be a capital-W Workout. They have individual value in themselves, and I know myself: I want to find an optimal use for that value. One punch could (should… must) be a swim of a certain length, or a workout plus a run, or span a specific length of time.

If I’m smart, I set time aside and so having the time to go means I (optimally) think about my visit as I paid some bucks to be inside, so I gotta make it worthwhile.

But this quickly turns into I’ll need to pay some bucks to go inside, and I don’t have time to make it worthwhile so… maybe next time.

No commitment. No visit. No results. Fail.

In switching from a punch-card to a pass, I turn this whole calculation into, I’ve already paid a few more bucks to go inside whenever I feel like it, so any time that I go is worthwhile.

Where I might not have just gone to do some weights for twenty minutes after a run, it now seems like a no-brainer. Where I may have avoided a swim because just ten laps struck me as a waste of a punch, now: what the hell! Where I may have tried to optimize my visit by equating the value of a punch to the cost of a class, now I can go do a spin class or a yoga class and not worry about finding value beyond participation.

Results are not guaranteed, but adding commitment to that formula has gotta be a factor, right?

Core: Appin’ Up a Cross Training Solution

No one loves sit-ups.

If they say they do, they’re lying to you. I mean, you can get some valuable fitness outcomes from slapping your face into your crotch over and over again, I guess, but if sit-ups didn’t lead to six-pack abs, no sane person would ever do one twice.

Or whatever. Suit yourself. But I hate sit-ups. I have a little app on my phone that let’s me progress towards being able to do a million sit-ups and sometimes I even remember to use it. I also have an app for push-ups. And a few weeks ago I signed up for that whole Peloton app things so I can make my iPad yell at me about pedalling faster on my spin bike while I listen to mediocre EDM. Yay, apps. Feel the love.

Last time I seriously tried to get in shape for a marathon (as in not half-ass like literally last time I ran a marathon, to which I’ll defer to a later post for explanation, but last time I actually tried) the whole app thing wasn’t a thing. I recorded workouts in spreadsheets and kept track of runs with my garmin. But apps?

Now I have apps.

Not that I know if it will matter at all, but I’m going into this one full app-mode. Apps up. App-a-licious. Notificatation-driven-to-win-it. (Well, finish. Let’s start there.) And the apps are gonna be the answer to my cross-training dilemma. That’s the plan, at least.

Let’s inventory.

Peloton. Jumping in with both feet on this one. I’ve been trialing the subscription app for a couple weeks, online spin and strength classes, and I think I’m going to attempt to round out my training schedule plan with at least two 30 minute spins twice per week. It may mean some early morning rides, or squeezing in on Saturday morning, but this is my new plan to help prop up the burgeoning virtual spandex industry… and low impact my cardio buzzwords.

Runtastic. Makes those situp, pushup, squat apps I alluded to a few dozen words ago. I used them a few months ago. Even paid for the pro versions. So, dammit, they are going to get used again. I will do a million situps if it kills me. Or I’ll stop shortly before that point. This isn’t about the abs. As a mid-40s dad, I don’t require abs for much beyond looking less tubby in family photos. But my core strength is going to be an issue if I don’t sort out some way to balance out the whole middle strength quandary.

Strava. Nothing new here for me. I’ve been on Strava for years, but I thought I’d list it to cope with my obsessive list-making completionist mindset. I’ll be tracking everything and putting it in this social media platform for health wonks (of which I am clearly a card carrying member, he insists lovingly.) Progress shall be tracked and kudos shall be had.

Now if only my phone was waterproof, I could start swimming too.