Training Report: Snowy Motivations and Running Frustrations

James Knott shovels snow after 6 inches fell on Columbus, Ohio.

James Knott shovels snow after 6 inches fell on Columbus, Ohio. My first round of snow was actually at 4:45 am when I woke up to work out. This was round two, where I shoveled the gigantic pile of snow that the plow shoved in front of our driveway.

Six inches of wet, heavy snow and ice fell across the greater Columbus area last night and this is probably the best thing that could have happened for my training.  Why? It caused me to reconsider my workout agenda this morning.

For the last two days the arch of my foot has been a little tender when I walk on it.  There could be several potential causes in my mind:

  • Pushing myself too hard or too far when I run.  Maybe I need to build up my mileage more slowly.
  • I might need new running shoes.  I bought these last winter and although I didn’t run on them most of the year, they might be getting close to their mileage limit.  (I’m not good at buying new running shoes because the frugal part of me always feels like I can squeeze a few more miles of life from the old ones.)
  • Poor arch support in my winter boots.  I have a pair of “Maine Hunting Boots” from L.L. Bean and I don’t feel like they provide much support for my feet.  My feet first started aching on a slow walk in them with my boys around the neighborhood.
  • Or, all of the above.  Maybe pushing the limits of my running, in my old shoes, weakened my arches and made them more susceptible to injury in my unsupportive boots.

Curses!  So frustrating…

LL Bean Maine Hunting Boots

L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Boots – The arch of my foot started hurting when I was walking around the neighborhood in these boots. They are good at keeping your feet dry, but beyond that I don’t recommend them, at least as a winter boot. They aren’t particularly warm and don’t provide much support when you walk. Furthermore, they don’t have very good traction for ice, snow and mud. What is the intended purpose of a boot like this?

Just because I have an ache in my foot doesn’t automatically mean I shouldn’t work out though.  After all, if I avoided training every time I had a little soreness somewhere on my body, I would never make it out the door – and never get in shape in the first place.

Part of training is pushing your body beyond its limits and then letting it rebuild itself a little stronger for the next effort. Tight muscles and minor aches have been a part of my life since I reintroduced running to my regimen this winter.

This pain felt a little different though and made me second guess whether I should push it or not.  I don’t want to train too hard and create an injury that will take me out for several weeks.

It’s a fine line between perseverance and stupidity.

Despite my doubts, I was planning on pushing forward with my running workout today.  But, when I started down the street to use my mother-n-law’s treadmill my arch started aching as I walked in the snow.  I decided that I needed to change my plan and let my foot rest a few more days.

Snowy Workout: Cross-Training, Core Strength

Instead, I shoveled snow for 45 minutes.  It was really wet and heavy and I was definitely using muscles that don’t normally get a good workout.  There was not a lot of stress on the arch of my foot.

I wore my heart rate monitor while I shoveled because I was curious about how many calories I was burning.  It gave me credit for 153 but it definitely felt like much more than that.  Does anyone know whether a heart rate monitor for running can be used to measure calorie burn for other activities?  If so, let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

After shoveling I did 7 minutes  on the elliptical.  WOW!  A whopping 7 minutes!  After all the soreness I’ve gone through with the running I decided that I am going to build up really slowly with the elliptical.  I only plan on adding 1 minute each time I use it and keeping my effort at a low to moderate intensity.  I plan to combine running and elliptical into the same workouts to continue with the cross-training, but cut the pounding of my joints from running in half.

Jimmy Knott's Fitness Emporium

Jimmy Knott’s Fitness Emporium: I moved an elliptical from an upstairs bedroom down to the basement next to my spin bike. It should get a lot more use now. I have the TV set-up with cable, Roku for internet streaming, DVD, VHS, & music. Plenty of entertainment. I’m weighing the idea of getting a treadmill. It would be nice, but I have access to one down the street. Jimmy Knott’s Fitness Emporium membership dues are $20/month. 🙂

The Previous Day – Cutting It Short

The day before the snow I had planned on doing a hard 120 minutes on the spin bike.  I ended up only going for 60 minutes with most of that being fairly easy because my legs were feeling sluggish.  My thought is that I needed more recovery from the workouts I had this weekend.  Saturday, I did 150 minutes of moderately strenuous work on the spin bike.  This was my long ride of the week and I was building endurance.  Sunday, I ran 8.5 miles on the treadmill with a top-speed of 7 mph and an average speed of 6.5 mph.  Monday was a day of rest.

For the first time all winter, I wasn’t sore after my running workout.  As such, I don’t think I gave myself enough credit for how punishing the weekend had been.  I thought that giving myself the day off on Monday would be enough recovery, but it seems like two days might have been necessary.

That’s the frustrating thing about working out when you are highly motivated.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how eager you feel, your body can only take so much.  You have to slowly build up to the level you want to be at over the course of a season or several seasons.  You also have to be patient while your body repairs itself.

It’s that waiting that I have a problem with.  I’ve been waking up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. every day (so that I can workout before my kids get up).  I’m ready to push myself hard every morning, but I know if I do too much too soon, I risk injury, fatigue and burnout.  Also, if you try to go hard every day you end up going moderately fast most of the time, when your real goal should be to ride really fast just some of the time.  How do you balance it all?

Should Running Be A Part of My Cycling?

While there are many ways to structure your training and it varies depending on the type of event that you are training for, most of what I have read recommends working out in a hard-easy-hard-easy pattern with at least one day of complete rest.  If that’s true, then at most you should only have three hard workouts per week.  The other three workouts should be easy recovery rides of no more than 30 minutes to an hour.

White board with training schedule for James Knott

I’m starting to write my non-cycling workouts on this white board to keep track of my progress. I will try and build up my running and elliptical time slowly to help prevent injury.

How does running fit into that?  My initial thought was that I could use running for my recovery workouts and that would allow me to be a more well-rounded athlete.  It would also allow me to get back into it a little easier in the off-season when I need a change of pace from cycling.

So far though, running has been very taxing on my body and I’m not sure the benefits outweigh the costs.  It may be too intense to qualify as a recovery activity – at least the way I’ve been doing it.  Also, I wonder whether it’s diluting my bike training time.  The jury is still out on what I should do.

I recently started reading about book about triathlons, not because I want to do a triathlon, but because I wanted to learn how to balance the demands of multiple sports.

Check out “Your First Triathlon” by Joe Friel on

Let’s be real here.  Most of us aren’t going to be professional athletes.  We are doing this for our health.  When you look at it like that, is it more important to add additional sports to the training quiver and be well-rounded, or, is it better to focus on one sport and increase the specificity of the training to achieve specific goals that motivate you – in my case, that means doing well at mountain bike races.

Let me know your thoughts.  Do you stick to riding your bike or do you try to do other sports like running, swimming, skiing or kayaking to mix things up?  How do you balance multiple sports at the same time?  If you run, do you feel like it helps your cycling at all?  Is it better to be really good at one sport or just moderately talented at two or more.  I would love to hear from you.  What do you do?  What do you think I should do?

This is kind of like a big “Choose Your Own Adventure” story and you get to help me decide what to do.

For the short term I plan on scheduling more runs to see if my body adjusts to it.  As the mountain bike season gets closer though I might drop running to focus completely on riding.  My #1 goal is still to do cross country mountain bike races in the 15-30 mile range.  I still have several weeks to decide what to do.

There will be more articles here at Quickdirt about my training and racing all season long.  Hopefully, this year’s story will end with a strong performance at the OMBC championship race at Mohican State Park in October.  You’ll have to tune in to find out.

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Happy trails,


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