The weather today was wonderful, at least in comparison to the past couple months. It was almost warm, and sunny, and dry. All day. Not very windy, either. And all day, I thought “If it’s like this when I get out of work, I’m going to run outside, not in the gym!”

It’s been a long time since I ran in the sun. Since Christmas Eve, actually, when I went out with my nephew. I did run outside in the streets on New Year’s Day, but that was at night. And even though the days are getting longer, and it was still light outside when I left work at 4:00 PM, I wasn’t sure that there would continue to be light enough for me to run.

In fact, the negative voice in the back of my head tried to talk me out of running outside today. It told me it was too cold, that I hadn’t packed the right gear (shorts and a short-sleeved t-shirt), that it was too windy, that it was going to be dark by the time I finished… lots of excuses.

Good thing I ignored them all.

I hopped to the gym to change, and headed out for a run around the Esplanade. It was a training run, after 3 weeks off, so I didn’t expect a fast pace. However, I did want to see if my strength training had an impact.

I started out strong – probably a bit too strong. I did make it to about the 13:00 mark before having to slow to a walk, which was OK. My legs felt great, actually – the reason I had to stop was my lungs. I guess elliptical trainers don’t work the cardio-vascular system quite as well as running, no matter how fast I push those pedals.

But I only had to stop to walk several times (maybe four? I didn’t keep track), and I tried to make up for those short (0:30 – 1:00 each) by throwing in some faster, harder running. So I turned the loop into a fartlek run.

And I noticed that stronger legs mean several positives. First, of course, they don’t tire as fast, and I was able to push myself along the ground better. But the other main improvement was that they provided far better shock absorption and cushioning, and I was able to maintain a better balance and stronger forward-and-back motion – everything felt much better aligned and in the groove than I remember them being in the past. And that was from the waist down. Yes, even my “core” being stronger helped. I will definitely continue the strength training, as the benefit is clear to me.

My breathing, however, was constrained and wheezy, dammit. I’m hoping part of that was the break in training, and another part is the cold weather. We shall see.

My final time for the measured distance (2.87 miles per Google Earth) was 0:30:41, for an average pace of about 10:41. Just about perfect for my first training run of 2006.

After my run, I went back to the gym and did two circuits (upper/core/legs), with a bit stronger weights than I’d been using last time. Then I tried to sit in the steam room but the steam room was absent any steam. Ugh. So I showered and grabbed some dinner (Bourbon chicken at the mall).