Winter Running

With the cold dark days of winter into full swing many runners have made the transition from hitting the road to striding out on a treadmill.  There will always be a handful of strong willed individuals that will run outside no matter the time of year, ignoring the bite of winter.  But for many of us we tend to migrate indoors.  I must say I do encourage all runners to take advantage of those “mild” winter days and absolutely get out into the fresh air for an invigorating run.  Personally I set specific criteria for determining if my long weekend run will be on the treadmill or outside.  I want the temperature to be at least 25 degrees with minimal wind.  YaktraxEven with my pair of Yaktrax I’m not a fan of running on slick, packed down snow or ice.  One slip and fall and running could be over for a very long time.  For many of us runners the thought of missing a run or multiple runs is more than our brains can handle.  So, I’d rather be safe than sorry.  If you do run outside this winter just make sure you have the appropriate gear from head to toe.

There are several things we can do to make treadmill running more enjoyable, or for some I should say less excruciating, monotonous and down right boring. 

-Take advantage of the various programs available on most treadmills.  These programs will automatically change the elevation at specific intervals during the run mimicking hills on the road.  Some programs allow you to incorporate a change of speed at set points as well without you having to push a single button.  Hit the 5K program from time to time and set a new indoor 5K PR.

-Watch a movie, television or listen to some music.  If you have a long run, throw in a favorite movie to watch.  On Thanksgiving morning I watched three hours of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives while on a long run.  Nothing like preparing my appetite for what was to come later that day.  Want to go extreme, try this.  Listen to some music while watching the television (closed caption) at the same time.  *You’ll have so much stimulation overload you won’t even know you’re on a treadmill.

*I want to conclude with the most important point.  No matter where you choose to run this winter, take time often to listen to your body without distractions.  Focus on your breathing, your foot strike, your arm action.  The television goes off, the music is left behind.  As coach Gerard (GP) Pearlberg told my wife and me at a running clinic one time, “To perform at your best you have to be a focused running assassin.”   

The winter can be a great time to focus on specifics within your training and preparation for the spring season and racing series.  As a side note to that if you are training for road races in 2011 make sure you are adhering to a proven training program or better yet work with a qualified running coach.