Last Tuesday I laced up like any other day. I added an extra layer my torso, wore merino wool running socks and wore my hood up to cover my neck all to prepare for that morning’s chilly 5 degree temperature. It was officially the lowest temperature at which I’ve ever ran and truth be told- it was cold! My route brought me by a middle school boy waiting for the bus to rescue him from the bitter cold. While wearing a smile he shook his head in disbelief when he saw me coming. As I passed him by he shouted, “You’re crazy lady,” to which I instinctively replied, “Crazy about runnin‘!”
Even though I prefer for the temps to hover closer to 30-40 degrees, I still enjoy (and prefer) running outside even in spite of the rain, snow and brutally cold winter temperatures. Running on neighborhood streets quiets my mind, releases stress built up from the previous day and empowers me as I make it up tough hills and zig-zag my way across town. If I ran to lose weight I would probably complete a treadmill workout on the colder days, but this is not the reason why I run (this is NOT a dig on treadmill runners, please see tips below). I believe that if you allow it- running can build both physical and mental strength beyond the runners’ wildest imagination.
To reek the full benefits of a run I need to feel the pavement under my feet with each passing mile, reach the top of the hill to witness the fiery sky during the sunrise and even breathe in the smell of fresh pine as I pass by the Christmas tree farm. I need to experience the road. I need to bear witness to the world around me. I need to know that my own two feet carried me from point A to point B. This experience-in spite of the awful winter weather- is what makes winter running enjoyable, empowering and invigorating. And craving this experience is what gets the “crazy lady” out of bed and on the road each and every morning.
Top 3 Tips for a Successful Winter Training Season
1. Are you still having fun?
A woman came into the running store last week looking for tank tops and running skirts on sale to run in at the gym. She told me, “It’s just not fun to run outside when it’s this cold.” Even though I enjoy running outside at 5 degrees, I am well aware that everyone else does not– and that’s completely ok! It is critically important to find a workout (and workout conditions) that you enjoy- otherwise you simply won’t keep it up!
2a. Be crazy, but not stupid.
While you can control your own two feet, you cannot control the cars on the road. Ice causes cars to slip and snowy conditions causes reduced visibility for drivers. Even though I describe above the significance running outside holds for me, there are inevitably days when a runner should not be on the road due to safety concerns. Hence the reason why I recently ran a torturous 14 mile training run on the treadmill.
Remember, you can still get a fantastic physical workout on the treadmill. When it doubt, dreadmill it out.
Remember: You are allowed to be crazy everyday, but stupidity will get you injured. Only humility/intelligence will safely get you to race day.
2b. Safety first: If you DO choose to run outside on “debatable” days try to wait until condition improve. Then, be sure to choose routes that have wide shoulders (snow will cover sidewalks and you will be forced to the street where a wide shoulder is essential for safety), are likely to be plowed and are relatively close to home! (Also, consider bringing your phone!)
3. Be prepared for the elements: Essential items for winter running…
Below 30 degrees: fleece-lined spandex pants, long sleeve base layer shirt, windbreaker jacket with hood to protect neck, hat, heavy duty gloves, low cut socks.
Below 10/15 degrees: additional layer (tank top), high cut merino wool Feetures socks (as little skin showing as possible); if there is ice- yaktraks
Items I am considering buying: neck warmer, face mask, goggles (?)
*The link to my favorite winter running items*
Week in Review: 12.9- 12.15 and 12.16-12.22
Monday 3.2 miles (8:35 pace)
Track Tuesday 4×800 and 2 x 7.5 minutes
Wednesday 5.6 mi (8:10 pace)
Thursday 5.3 mi (8:09 pace); 60 min weights
Friday Speedwork! 10 x 400 (times ranging between 93 and 97 seconds; fastest was 84 sec)
Saturday 5:25 mi (7:54 pace)
Sunday 14 mi on the dreadmill (8:03 pace) *snow
Total miles: 49.25
Tuesday 5.25 mi (7:42 pace); 60 min weights *5 degrees out*
Wednesday 7.8 mi (7:58 pace) *used my yaktrax (for the first time) to survive the snowy/ice*
Thursday 5.25 mi easy (7:48 pace)
Friday 5.25 miles (10 x 1 minute repeats)
Saturday 7.5 mi (7:35 pace) *felt great!! Final mile was a 7:11!
Sunday 13.1 mi (7:38 pace) with 30 minutes in the middle at a 6:50 pace (ouch, very ouch)
Total miles: 43
My next post will be devoted to discussing various speed workouts (many completed in past 2 weeks), reviewing my first three weeks with my coach and the new training plan.
Merry Christmas Runners!!