Thursday, January 07, 2010


I think the thing I hate about winter the most is not running as much as I would like. When I first started running over 20 years ago, I had no treadmill or access to a gym so was forced to run outside every time. It was my only option. It was all I knew. It probably made me tougher, both physically and mentally, but also led to winter running injuries: slipping on ice; twisting an ankle trying to cross a street with a huge mound of snow at the curb; overuse on ankle tendons trying to keep from sliding all over the place. And then there was the harshness of the weather also. I didn't even have proper winter running gear for the first 3 years so basically froze every time I ran.

The motivating factor in my winter running for years was starting early in the year to train for our annual 25k (15.5 miles) race in early May. And for years (and still to many locals) the defining standard for running that race was under 2 hours for men abd right around 2 hours for women. A hard standard to live up to, especially living in climate of ice, cold, and snow. But many, many did in fact meet that standard.

I came close one year: 2:10. What was the secret that year? Consistent long run training all winter long. I don't remember it being a mild winter so it wasn't the weather that made it easier. It was just consistency. Something I have not followed for the past several years.

With the introduction of a treadmill and access to a gym into my life, I have opted to take the easy way of training by staying inside quite a bit from January through March. Also, since most of my running is done in the early morning hours, and its still dark until almost 8 am, I know its safer and more comfortable, but it doesn't have the same quality as outdoor running. At least for me it doesn't transfer over to running a decent 25k time. While I find it easy enough most of the time to get in 3-5 miles on a treadmill, those miles are usually at speeds way too fast for me to transfer over to outside running. I find myself hurrying just to get it done, or doing fast intervals because I am bored by it. This is okay once or twice a week, but doesn't cut it trying to get in a long run, and we all know that is the key to improvement and the ability to do endurance events. I always vow at the beginning of winter to stay out as long as possible, but then somehow slide on that promise by the time January comes and the sidewalks are no longer clear.

Today I realized for the first time ever how much I miss running in the winter. Walking to do an errand, even though it was cold, windy, and snowing like crazy, it was also somewhat pleasant and exhilirating to be outside, even for a brief while. It has motivated me to find ways to venture out more. Let's see how that goes tomorrow morning.


I Run for Fun said...

I is exhilarating running in the cold. And I enjoy it far more than I like being out in the blazing heat of summer.

Just_because_today said...

I agree. I also look for the treadmill for an easy way out. I get my miles done but don't adjust the incline to mimick roads. However, I ran in such cold a windy day last sat that it has taken me a week to get over the chill in my bones. The treadmill can be a better option sometimes

Anne said...

The only thing worse than running on a treadmill in a Michigan winter, is running on one in a San Diego winter. I know what you mean though. I was the same with winter training for spring races. Just remember: there are plenty of Boston Marathoners who aren't taking the path of least resistence right now either!

Lily on the Road said...

Treadmills have their challenges too!!

I'm not missing running in winter (yet), but I am enjoying xcountry skiing and snowshoeing. Both are excellent workouts!!