HIGH COUNTRY RUNNING: Planting winter seeds

Julie Hammond’s Special to the Daily Sun

Thursday’s snow flurries were a chilly omen of winter days to come.

The aspens and oaks are dropping their leaves. We see the sun rising later and setting earlier, its slanting rosy rays turning the ponderosas into orange candles.

This turn in the seasons is harvest time, a fruitful moment to assess the growth of seeds planted last spring. Early in 2022, I committed to running more races at my favorite distance, the half marathon. I’m pleased with how that seed grew into memorable experiences in Monument Valley, Prescott and on Flagstaff’s Observatory Mesa this year.

I also committed to doing more strength workouts and other cross training. In the spring, I completed those workouts nearly every week. Somewhere over the summer, I lost the cross-training mojo. Now, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, but mostly I don’t.

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Now is a time to assess such mixed results and ask myself why this is so. Was it too pretty outside to sweat indoors? Did other commitments cut into training time? Was my schedule too haphazard?

If I choose to replant these seeds now, maybe they’ll yield a winter crop. What resources do they need to survive? How can I encourage them to take root more firmly this time?

Maybe these particular seeds will thrive in the colder weather. When it’s nasty outside, I’m more likely to stay indoors and fire up a workout video on YouTube.

This week’s snowfall enticed me to look ahead. Running when the air bites your lungs or when snow and ice make footing treacherous requires commitment. Now is the time to set reasonable goals and figure out what it will take to accomplish them.

As a high country runner is it wise of me to commit to a certain number of runs every week no matter what? Innate stubbornness just might power me through the stormy days.

I may have better success, though, if I set a mileage or time goal for each month. Then I can run mostly on warmer days when the footing is good. If that means five runs one week and two the next, I’ll have to be OK with that.

Wait a second. Am I really thinking about staying in shape with outdoor runs this winter? That can be tough to achieve. Maybe I should think up some alternatives. Is it time for a gym membership? A treadmill? A move to a warmer climate?

Just kidding… I think.

Send your strategies for winter training (or any other running-related news) to coordinating editor Julie Hammonds ([email protected]) to be featured in a future High Country Running column.

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