March 2, 2021 – Train like a cat

Hi Everyone!


I was about to say I think I can smell Spring, but then it just started snowing with a cold wind blowing in, so I think we’re in for some back and forth for the next little while.


Last week was a tough one weather-wise for training for many of us. At least three days were either deep snow, slick, invisible ice, or a combination of both. I think almost everyone changed and adapted their runs and workouts based on what was in front of us.


As I opened the door to let my cat out after her breakfast on one of those freezing icy days, she took one look and said “no thanks”, turned around and contentedly curled up on a chair instead.


It occurred to me that there is a lot we can learn from cats (full disclosure – I was also inspired after reading a review of Feline Philosophy by John Gray). 


Cats are masters of contentedness. They basically exist to please themselves, and they are very good at making the most out of any situation in order to do just that. If it’s cold, wet and windy out, they are just as happy to not go outside, and they feel zero guilt or shame or longing. Then when it’s nice out, they might disappear for a whole day with no excuses. When my cat wants to be patted, she’ll follow us around and makes sure she gets attention. Once she’s had enough, she turns around, throws her bum in our face and walks away. Unlike dogs (and humans), cats don’t have anxiety about what is to come or what other people think. They are completely self-reliant and know they have the ability to make the best of whatever comes their way. Just picture a cat. Whether it is sitting in a sunbeam or prowling in the garden, you can’t picture a cat wishing it were doing something else and not being fully content in whatever it is doing.


What can we take from this? For starters, don’t beat yourself up if it’s gross out and you don’t want to go out. Who is your master anyway? If it’s not going to bring you joy, you don’t have to do it. Or at least not for as long as when it’s nice out. It IS inherently less enjoyable when it’s freezing and slippery. There is no shame in admitting that.


And on the flip side, when it is nice out, take advantage and enjoy it! (and trust that you will) When we take our cat to the cottage she just goes and goes and goes until she collapses – when we get home she’ll sleep for two days! Similarly, sometimes we’re just gifted a beautiful day, a scenic setting and energy in our legs. On those days, we should go out for as long as we like and enjoy ourselves! Make yourself happy – you can rest up later.


Another lesson: don’t let the judgements of others dictate what you do. Our cat will take our love, but she doesn’t beg for it or live for it. You can tell by the state of our couch that she’s not trying to win our approval. This is how we should approach our relationships with our training and race results on social media. Likes and accolades are nice, but we can live without them. It’s our own respect that we need.


So try pleasing yourself with your running. Practice being content with whatever training decision you make on any given day, and trust yourself enough to know that you’ll go out and work hard when the time is right. Also, go sit down in the next sunbeam you see and close your eyes for a bit – it feels pretty good.


On to workouts for this week:


  1. 3-4×1000 with 1:45 rest at 5K pace (if doing these on our path, do them as 800/200 then combinations of 600/400), 4 min rest, 4-5×400 with 1:15 rest at 3K pace (or just a bit faster)
  2. If doing fartlek style: 3-4 x 4 min Hard w 1:45 Easy, 4 min easy, 4-5 x 1:15 Hard, 1:15 Easy
  3. Hills if you missed last week bc of ice and feel like doing them
  4. Tempo: 3 x 15 min w 3 min rec (this is if you’ve been building them and are training for ATB – Option of 3 x 10 mins if you’re not there yet)


Have fun and hope to see some of you on the roads at some point!