Sunny days in Helena this winter. No snow or ice on the neighborhood streets in town for a few weeks.
Sunny days in Helena this winter. No snow or ice on the neighborhood streets in town for a few weeks.

We’ve been really lucky in Montana as far as winter weather goes. Or unlucky, depending on your perspective.

February has been on track to be the warmest ever for Helena, 13 degrees above average. This’ll be only the 3rd day this month we’ve remained below freezing and we’ve had several days near or above 60. We’ve had little to no snow cover in the Valley all month and -7 this morning was the coldest since the first week of January. Definitely a complete contrast to the experience to my first February in Montana.

This means I’ve been able to avoid the treadmill in favor of some road running during the past few weeks. I’d rather try a few trails, gearing up for races I have planned in a few months, but there are still muddy and icy spots on the hills surrounding town.

I’ve averaged 20 miles running for the past 7 weeks, by far the best since before my wreck last June. I’ve worked to included speed and strength training and made progress on longer runs of 6 to 7 miles, peaking at 8.25 this week. Those accomplishments feel great after being stuck on a plateau of 3 to 4 miles for such a long time.

I’m far from a marathon or career runner, but the farther I go, the more I enjoy it. Running is a huge stress reliever after long days in the office chair. There’s a lot of negativity around ranching and agriculture these days and it’s easy to get bogged down. Running definitely helps clear my head for a better night’s rest. Even if I’m on the treadmill, which I take most people despise, I’ll just plug-in an audiobook and completely tune out the world.

Yes, white legs. We don't get much sun during short Montana winter days.
Yes, white legs. We don’t get much sun during short Montana winter days.

I’ve made my way through several books in the past few months:

And I’m currently halfway through:

One of my biggest changes in regimen has been eating habits. I’ve not been one with a big sweet tooth for several years, but I’ve definitely made a bigger effort to cut out the junk food over the past year. I’ve taken to eating smarter, having a high protein breakfast each day, cutting out excess and added sugars and carbs, measuring my food portions and drinking plenty of water. I feel better, have more energy, and have definitely seen that reflected in my running progress, focus and ability to deal with stressful situations at work. And yes, beef is a daily part of my diet.

Despite changes in dietary guidelines released this week, lean meats are a great source of nutrition per calorie and pack a punch in getting my essential nutrients. Combine some lean or ground beef with a few vegetables, cheese and rice and I’ve got an easy meal each night. Cooking for one isn’t convenient, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bland.

Here’s to a healthier, more adventurous 2015! #TeamBeef!