It is time, my friends. Whether you want to hear it or not, it is that time of year where every fitness magazine, globo-gym pushing memberships, or friendly health coach with something to sell is going to remind you that you are merely weeks out from having to parade around in nothing but a swimsuit. “Only ___more months until bikini season! Be in your best shape ever!” blah blah, buy this shake now and get your ass moving yesterday, etc etc. You know how it goes.
The whole concept of being “bikini season ready” gets me a little riled up. On one hand, I firmly believe fitness should be a priority 365 days a year, for health reasons and not vanity reasons. Bikini or no bikini, you should be able to sprint for your life and climb that fence to escape from an angry bear at any given point in time. Perhaps I read too much Outside magazine and not enough Cosmopolitan. (Where is the sarcasm font?) The idea of fitness purely for vanity reason makes sad. But on the OTHER hand, I tend to pack on a few extra, uh, winter comfort pounds myself…so I get it, sort of.
The other day, while organizing a stack of magazines at my gym, their covers plastered with claims of “how to get the best butt of your life just in time for summer” or something else equally as ridiculous, it occurred to me that I am totally unprepared for running season. You see: bikinis = summer, summer = running outside, running outside = everything and anything longer than the 20 minutes I put in on the treadmill.
Now, I am not ashamed to admit that I’m what you might call a “fair weather runner”. When that polar vortex popped out of nowhere this winter, I took up residence inside the gym. There is no pair of yak traxs or sub polar rated balaclava in the world that could convince me to tempt my fate on ice covered sidewalks and below freezing wind-chills. What’s that hashtag all of the kids use these days? #SorryNotSorry. So instead, 2-3 miles max on the treadmill is all my legs have seen at one time. I’ve spent my winter consistently lifting weights 5-6 days a week. Add in some plyometrics and cardio intervals on various gym equipment (hello, stairmaster!) to the mix, and despite my lack of faithfulness to long distance, outdoor running, I feel freaking fantastic. So fitting into a bikini isn’t really my concern…instead it’s transitioning back to the outdoors.
You know, sneaker season.
So how does one get ready for ditching the treadmill for the open trails? These tips certainly won’t make the cover of the next Shape magazine, but here they are anyway:
1. Put away the Nano’s that I’ve been living in at the gym. Amazing for squats and deadlifts, not so versatile on Vermont trails. Break in the poor road and trail shoes that have been dying to be tested and reviewed.
2. Spend time on the bosu ball, as the single direction movement of treadmill running has turned my ankle ligaments into softies. No one wants a twisted ankle, and those roots and rocks on the trail take no prisoners. Trust me.
3. Clean this thing out. The picture doesn’t even do the disgusting factor justice. I’m certain that dirt caked on the mouthpiece is from Killington.
4. Dig out some sort of GPS unit.
4a. Find said GPS unit’s battery charger.
5. Stop eating Clif Bloks as a random winter fruit snack. Save for actual training runs.
6. Find a ridiculously difficult early season race that leaves me wishing I had spent all winter logging miles instead of working on a bench press PR.
7. Stock up on pasta, pizza, and beer, for winter “bulking” season will hence forth be known as “carb loading”.
8. Wait patiently for the ice to melt, because really, nothing can truly prepare you those first few runs outdoors, no matter how hard you’ve been training all winter. The transition is shocking. Running is hard. But boy do I love it…
23 days until the official start of spring. Are you ready for sneaker season?
A runner who is not ashamed to have hibernated this winter.