balancing act.

Maintaining miles during winter months has always proven challenging.  Even though weather tends to become even less cooperative later in the season, December is often the toughest month of all with numerous family obligations and increased hours at work.

There's still time for running, but I have to be careful to seize any and all available opportunities.  I've set the goal of 20+ mile weeks in hopes of hitting April without feeling like I'm starting from scratch.  I don't do gyms, so that means getting outside.

Unless I want to sit out weekdays and log all my miles on longer weekend runs, I have to sneak in runs before and after work.  Our front door is exactly 3.1 miles from my place of work, so I've got a 5K at the ready if and when I don't need to have my car at the ready.  Two to three nights a week, I need to pick up Lily and Piper from the babysitter after work, so I need the car parked outside.

This balancing act has led to my having to plan my running week ahead of time.  I need to determine when and where I'll need the car and packing changes of clothes and shoes.

I'll use the past couple of days as an example.  On Saturday I hoped to run 7 or 8 miles.  I would have also liked to run on Sunday, but had signed on for an 8:30-3:30 weekend work shift.  Lindsay was slated to work on Monday and Tuesday, so it looked unlikely that I'd be able to tack a Monday run on the back end of the weekend.

Here's where brainstorming came into play and managed to secure me 4 separate chances to run.  Midday on Saturday, I pulled out one of my backpacks and filled it with a headlamp, a change of running clothes and two separate sets of pants, shirts, socks and underwear.  I slipped into shorts, sneakers, a long-sleeved shirt and a windshirt (my favorite running layer) before jumping in the car, driving to work and parking in the lot.  Unlocking the front door, I headed up the steps to drop the backpack by my desk before heading back out the door and leaving the car behind.  Nearly 8 miles later, I'd gotten in my Saturday run and was back at home with the family.

Early Sunday morning, I stepped out the front door and into the freezing rain.  I love running in ugly weather and 20 minutes later, I arrived outside my place of work feeling wide awake and ready to punch the clock. 

Eight hours later, having removed the clothes I'd changed into upon arriving at work and slipped into new, dry running wear, I headed back outside for my run home.  Grinning as I passed my still parked car, I noticed that the freezing rain that had turned to rain during the warmer midday hours was now converting back to ice.  Because visibility was limited by the cloud cover and falling sleet, I turned on my headlamp and adjusted the fit on a backpack that I'd decided to test for a possible backcountry hiking/running trip in January.  I'd loaded the pack with my wet clothes from that morning's run and the clothes that I'd worn during my work shift.  I'm sure I looked bizarre as I made my way through Manheim borough and out the other side of town towards home.  I couldn't have been happier.

This morning I tumbled back out my front door for another run to work.  With some careful planning, I'd managed to get in 22 miles for the week and start the next with a brisk 3.1 miles.  The car had patiently waited for my return and was well rested for the drive to pick up Lil and Pipe.

Tomorrow will come and go without any additional miles, but will give me a chance to examine the days ahead, do some laundry and pack appropriately for the rest of the week.

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