The Perfect Escape

If there’s one certainty I know about running, it’s that consistency is the surest and quickest way to making progress.

A steady diet of regular runs, even at an easy pace, will produce big dividends, particularly for those starting out or rebuilding their fitness. Any formal training plan — no matter the distance — will offer up a schedule of distances and days.

And once consistent training becomes a habit, adding a little bit of variety can bring the next leap in performance. It doesn’t even take a lot of hard work — a small dose of intervals, tempo runs or hills offer enough adaptations to promote improvements in running economy and efficiency. The key is making the right choices without overdoing workouts.

After surgery and 2 months of downtime, my focus turned to a methodical approach for regaining fitness and becoming a better runner. With numerous races planned, the best approach to setting myself up for the upcoming season would be building my weekly mileage through a measured and consistent training plan.

Deep in the heart of winter, it isn’t easy to find the motivation — especially when a weekend long run means spending a few hours outside. When we face winter’s worst, getting up early isn’t the most appealing activity.

On Saturday, when I set off for my long run over snow-covered roads, I queued up an audio book to keep my mind focused on something other than the weather.

Most Tuesdays feature a speed session in the morning and a group run in the evening. So when Wednesday morning rolls around, it takes an extra dose of motivation to get moving. Again, an audio book helps pass the time on the treadmill.

Frequently, I find myself listening to the trio of books by John L. Parker: the famous Once a Runner along with the prequel and sequel.

The sequel, Again to Carthage, follows the main character through his post-collegiate aspirations and several chapters offer the perfect escape to the sunshine state.

Besides the nuggets of wisdom, detailed characteristics and lively writing, Parker’s novel provides vivid descriptions of living on and near the Florida coast while Quenton Cassidy pursues the dream.

My mind wanders to memories of joining friends for a Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West, where we experienced snorkeling and fine Cuban food, and summers spent boating on Leech Lake. Those memories are far removed from the subzero temperatures and blustery winds of the wintery plains, but enough to keep me running until warmer days arrive.