The Great Lung Run

Run, Breathe, Live

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Keeping Active When Wintering in the Countryside

While this site is based on my love, running outdoors, sometimes your situation doesn’t permit you to do that. Each year I spend a few weeks at a family cabin out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. When the snow rolls in, long distance runs are all but impossible due to the lack of clean trails.

While the main reason for why I spend time there is to relax and get away from the day-to-day grind of modern life, I don’t want to let my fitness fall off. Since I can’t run, or run long distances, I need to find other activities.

Even in the cold, I still prefer working out outdoors. I try to always run outdoors, and avoid gyms when possible. I do the same in the harsh Wyoming winters.

Before I do anything, I make sure to dress appropriately. It’s not a little cold outside when I usually spend time in our cabin, it’s FREEZING. I always have thermals, proper winter socks, boots, gloves, a hat, and plenty of layers.

Once I am ready to take on the cold, wind, and snow, I make sure I have a drink of tea or water, as I’ll want to stay hydrated. It’s still possible to get dehydrated when it’s cold outside. Then, it’s off to the great snowy outdoors.

Once outside there’s not a whole lot I can do to get my heart rate up to where I want it. I sometimes like to take a short hike, as the wind and snow offer enough resistance to get my blood pumping.

Another activity I enjoy also happens be an essential one for staying warm when inside, which is splitting firewood. While many people think it’s a task suitable only for lumberjacks, I actually find it exhilarating.

The trick to getting a great blood-pumping workout by turning logs into firewood is to skip the chainsaw. You will need three things:

  • Logs for splitting
  • A log or small splitting table or cradle
  • A splitting axe or maul

The logs are of course a major necessity, as you need something to split. The log or table give you a raised flat surface to work with. And, you need your axe or you have nothing to work with.

My axe of choice is actually a rather hefty Granfors Bruks splitting maul. It’s a little more expensive than most other mauls, but it’s been in the family for years, so it’s paid itself off time and time again.

I also like the extra weight that a maul gives as it makes the splitting easier and it adds a little more resistance for my workout. That being said, use a tool with a weight that works best for your level of fitness and strength.

Lastly, another way to get a bit of a workout is moving around the firewood you just made. If you have a woodshed, you have to transport it all to the shed. If you don’t have a shed and instead keep it in front of or behind your cabin, you have to move it there. Either way, carrying all that wood in cold temperatures in the snow will get you breathing hard.

So, even when you can’t run due to cold and snow, there’s always something you can do to keep fit!

Running Isn’t Only About Legs & Lungs

While this site is dedicated to running, it’s also about staying healthy enough to run. Running is a full-body workout. It requires both your muscles and tendons to work hard. And, you also need healthy organs like your heart and lungs.

It’s not just about having strong legs.

That means that on those days you don’t want to put in the road work, and that okay because some days your joints need rest, but on those days you can still put in some time to improve your running.

I don’t like to do anything that would make me bulky. I’m not trying to get big like a body builder. But I do want to strengthening my core and all the soft tissue around my joints.

To do this, I focus on body weight exercises. I don’t really mess with weights as I don’t feel they will help me achieve my goals.

Some of the best exercises I use to keep my core strong are:

  • pushups
  • pull ups
  • planks

Pushups are about as simple as old school as you can get. I think it was the first type of exercise I ever did back at my time in primary school.

In P.E. our gym teacher would make us jog in place, do jumping jacks, and then do push ups as a warm up each and every class.

I didn’t do a lot, but at least I learned the form. Now, I do them all the time.

Pull ups are also a great body weight workout. They really make you work hard. If you haven’t done a pull up in  long time, try. You’ll see just how much of your core they work. And forget about sit ups for getting a six pack. Pull ups will absolute destroy your abs.

The great thing about the, is there are so many variations.

One negative is you cannot do them everywhere like you can with push ups. I had to go out a buy a free standing pull up bar stand so I could do them whenever I want. Or if you belong to a gym, they should have somewhere for you to do them as well.

Planks might look like the easiest of the three, but again, if you haven’t done them, try. They will have you shaking like a scared baby.

They are another great way to work on that six pack as they also beat up your abs. The crazy thing is you don’t even really have to move. The whole point is to not move. It almost sounds counterproductive!

I still make sure to put in time running though. And like these body weight exercises, I mix up my running. Even though I think of myself as a long distance runner, I still mix in sprints to help with hills and I change the distance of my runs and the pace to keep my body guessing.

I don’t want to get too comfortable and plateau.

Always push yourself, work hard, and try new ways to improve.

American Inspiration

I am more of a long distance runner than I ever was anything short, and I was never a big sprinter. However, I still love watching all the track & field events in the Rio Olympics. This week was especially exciting and motivational.

The other night I had the TV on and was not really paying full attention to the events, and then for some reason I decided to take a break from what I was doing, sit down, and watch the next race. It was the women’s 100m hurdles, something I never ever personally ran aside from messing around with a few friends now and then.

Regardless, there were three Americans in it, so I figured what the heck. I might as well watch as it’s going to be quick anyway. And quick it was.

What was crazy is that for the first time in history, these three American ladies finished the event in first, second, and third place, bringing home all three medals in this one event to America. How amazing!

For the record, their names are –

  • Nia Ali
  • Brianna Rollins
  • Kristi Castlin

These are three very special ladies that will surely share this bond for a long time. You can see the three of them together post event here.

I know I was never a star athlete, and as I said before, short races were never my thing, but still I find this to be a very motivational tale. All three of these women worked so hard individually and together to get into this race. Then, they kept working to make sure they all finished in the top spots.

It just shows how much a lot of hard work and dedication can pay off. This is the kind of story that helps get me out of bed early and into my running shoes. Great work ladies!

The Three Rules of Running

These aren’t really ancient rules carved into some stone tablet. There’s no handbook with these three rules printed on them you have to sign before lacing up a pair of sneakers. These are my three rules of running.

Here you go:

  1. Run for yourself – Some people run to work on their six pack abs to impress others. Some people run to try and finish in the top five so they can brag to their friends, family, and co-workers. Don’t do this. Run because you love to run. Run because you want to be healthy. Run because you want to prove to yourself you can run faster and farther than you ever thought possible.
  2. Don’t run hurt – Running is a way to improve your health, not to damage it. If you don’t feel right, stop. Don’t try and push through the pain. There’s a difference between good pain and bad pain, and don’t try and fool yourself that the latter is the former. You’re only going to put yourself on the sofa for an extended period of time if you try running through an injury.
  3. Engage with others – While this might seem contradictory to rule number one, the idea is simple enough. You can run for yourself while still supporting and seeking the support of others. Just keep a clear head and make sure you can tell the difference between motivation and jealous competition. Working out with others can be a great social bonding experience, and by helping one another you can all improve your fitness and spirt.

There’s nothing here that’s going to end up on the news or become the foundation of a new philosophy. It’s just the way I try to live my life. I hope you find the three rules useful as well.

Now, let’s lace up and run!