Friday, December 27, 2013
Ten winter running techniques that are crucial to survive
I'm wrapping up 11 days in central Wisconsin. That means my only exercise outlet is running. So, for most all of the days here, I cranked out 10 milers. Here are a few relevant suggestions if you plan to put yourself through the winter torture test:
1) Balaclavas will become your best friend. Wear it always. You can pull it up over your face or down around your neck, as needed. There is some comfort in having a completely covered head and neck when it's chill factor zero or below.
2) Get ready for trashed feet. The surface is perpetually uneven. Semi-shoveled sidewalks, plowed snow mounds across your path, slushed-up roads from salt...it's all there, all the time. Try using a shuffle mode, as that will scrape your shoes off as you go.
3) Embrace patience. I noted that there was a 20%-30% slip on every footstrike. My 10-milers were taking two hours. Set the day's mileage in your brain, get started, then throw the elapsed time stats out the window.
4) Realize that some motorists are exceptional, others are jerks. On major snow days I ran down the edge of the road, as it was the only thing plowed. Be prepared to jump for the snowbank on occasion. This is the life of the winter runner.
5) Expect extra torque on your moving parts. When it's 10 degrees or colder, things start to happen. Your hands won't always work well, shins will ache and your Achilles tendons can feel rigid. These conditions aren't meant for high stepping speed work. Keep your feet low and even to the ground (check out my Most Efficient Running Technique video on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDm5_PULCxk).
6) Don't stop. Once out the door, press forward methodically until the run has concluded and you're back in a warm, sheltered place.
7) Understand that small weather changes can make for big issues. A still day at 10 degrees, versus a wind chill at 10 degrees, are two different environments. One is "balmy" while the other will tear the fluid out of your eyes. This morning I ran at 18 degrees, but it chilled me to the bone because the air was damp.
8) Keep your hands and head warm as a first line of defense. They are the gateway to other parts of your body.
9) Appreciate the experience. Don't complain. Embrace it and absorb the sensations. Life isn't always better or worse...but simply different.
10) Listen to local radio stations. Break the groove of your usual digital feed. The rock stations here are exceptional. A bit of metal goes a long way when your going sub-zero into a headwind.
If you're looking at two more months of the winter blues, turn the corner and start a winter running regimen. I hope some of these tips get your enjoyably on your way.