Now that January’s about half over, I think that it’s high time for me to put up a post about my training for the Cleveland Marathon!

January has been a pretty interesting month, to say the least.

When we returned to Cleveland on New Year’s Eve after a great visit with Sheila’s family in the DC metro area, I saw that the driveway was full of snow. With the sidewalks far too icy and snowy for a run, I figured I’d knock it out first thing in the morning as my “workout” for the day. Unfortunately, the double-fisted punch of waking up with an extremely painful lower back and no electricity meant that we started off the year on a bad note. I’m still not sure what caused the back pain—maybe bad posture on the drive back from DC?

I try to find a silver lining in everything, though, and my back pain drove me straight onto the yoga mat with Sheila in an attempt to keep my back loose and to keep it from tightening up. I’m sure someone, somewhere thinks that yoga isn’t a real workout, but yoga wears me down like nothing else I’ve ever done before! Bethenny Frankel’s DVD—while probably not yoga in its purest form—is my favorite DVD to use because it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

I’m probably the only guy out there who is going to publicly admit to enjoying Bethenny’s reality shows and using this DVD as a regular part of his workout regimen. Don’t take away my man card, though…I watch 12 hours of football every weekend in the fall.

I’ve done it so much that I’ve wound up subconsciously memorizing 90% of the positions, so I’ve started doing them on my own without the DVD while listening to music. Here’s a song that tends to put me in a really relaxed frame of mind…is this what teenagers call “dubstep” these days? (I feel so old…someone put on some Guns ‘N Roses, quick!)

Along with helping my back, yoga has also helped me learn how to stretch out my leg muscles in ways that I did not previously know how to do. I’m pleased to say that this has helped the starts of my runs become much easier! Previously, I would need about a half mile to get totally warmed up, and this would lead to major thoughts about turning around shortly after I left the house. Although the annoying voice of doubt in my head still does its best to get me to turn around and head back to the couch early on in my runs, my increased flexibility has done wonders in helping me learn how to silence this voice.

Since I’m training for a half marathon, I should probably do some running at some point, right? Let’s talk about that…

One of the high schools at which I work has an indoor track. This is an enormous blessing as it allows me to get a run in even when the weather outside is awful. I also enjoy using this because I see some of the students with whom I work as I run and it gives me something to talk about with them other than employment readiness and college preparation! I’ve used this once so far this year, but fortunately the weather has been nice enough that I’ve been able to run outside a few times. The only drawback of using this track is that I tend to forget how many laps I’ve done (the track is 1\8 of a mile), so I’ve started running for a set amount of time rather than a set amount of miles when I run on this track so that I don’t spend the entire time dedicating my mental energy to counting laps.

My outdoor runs have gone surprisingly well. I’ve done various lengths ranging between 3 and 5 miles in and around the Tremont neighborhood. Although I didn’t get as much running in as I had hoped while we were in DC, I was grateful to know that I could still easily do my “base” distance of 4 miles and feel like I could have gone for at least another mile after I was done. Last Friday, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and knocked out 5 great miles. I even had to ditch my running jacket (which was already soaked with sweat) early on in my run because of the 60 degree temperatures. Unfortunately, my left foot hurt slightly the next day. Having already gone through this issue with my right foot, I’m not going to take any chances with the left foot—no point in injuring myself before I begin my training program! Consequently, I went for a run tonight and took it relatively easy when I thought that my foot began to tell me to stop. There’s a long and fun season of racing ahead of me, and I’d hate for a mistake in January to haunt me for the next 11 months of the year.

On a very positive note, I’ve dropped at least 2 pounds since the start of the year! I’m not exactly sure how much I weigh, as the slightly warped floors in our 1890s-era home often throw off the readings of my digital scale, but I am definitely trending downward past 197 pounds and below.

We’ll see what comes with the second half of January. Hopefully the snow will continue to stay away and the sidewalks will remain clear for all of us as we prepare for May 19th. I don’t have any races on my calendar until the Cleveland Marathon, but I think that’s going to have to change—I haven’t felt the incredible rush of standing at the starting line with my fellow runners in far too long! To those of you who are training, I hope that your training is going well. Feel free to say hello if you see me out and about on the streets of Tremont sometime!