Thursday, January 18, 2007


Quick training update; yesterday I ran an easy 6 miles in the morning. I've also been trying include some type of tempo run during the week. I'm been trying to mix it up a little by varying the distance (anywhere from 3 to 8 miles) and the speed (anywhere from 6:20 - 7:10 pace). Last night I ran 10 miles on the treadmill, including 2 x 3 miles (6:30 and 6:20 pace). This morning I had thoughts of sleeping in, but I was wide awake so I went out for a very easy 6 mile run.

The other day I was volunteered to answer some question for an article on winter running, by the Gear Junkie. I figured the Q&A might make for an interesting blog entry. If you're local, be sure to check out this Sunday's Star Tribune for the complete article.

1. How do your running habits change once the snow falls and the air gets cold?

Since the racing season is over, I use winter for my prime base-building season. I tend to slow down and just focus on mileage. My best months during the year, mileage-wise, are usually December-February.

2. How many miles do you run each week in the winter? What's your
average loop to run? Do you run on sidewalks, trails, or where?

This winter I've been averaging about 75 miles per week. Not all of it is outside. I have a treadmill at home too. I use that more for a second easy run on some days or tempo runs. The treadmill allows me to get in some quality without worrying about slipping. I'd say my average loop is 10 miles, but some days are 5 mile recovery days and some days are 18+ mile long runs.

I mainly run wherever I can find a clear path. Prior to this latest snowfall I was doing a lot of my running on the paved paths in Hyland Park (Bloomington). However, I don't think they get plowed, so I've just been running on plowed sidewalks. It's pitch black out, so it doesn't really matter (scenery-wise) where I run.

3. Do you enjoy wintertime running? More than other seasons? Why or why not?

I guess I enjoy it, but I wouldn't say I love it. It can be very frustrating at times, like when it's 20-below for days on-end or if we get a bunch of new snow and the paths aren't plowed yet. I'll take 10-below over, 90 with a dew point of 70, any day. And 30 and flurries is way better than 35 and rain.

A lot of it comes down to race results. The base training I do in the winter will pay off the rest of the year. So, I'd rather struggle through a few tough winter days and race well, than sit inside because it's "too cold" and end up racing poorly.

4. Do you race in the winter months? Where?

Not really, I mainly just work on base-building. I do usually run the Winter Carnival Half Marathon - more as a benchmark to see where I'm at.

5. What kind of equipment do you need to run in winter (special shoes, clothing, etc.)?

I don't think you need anything special, just lots of it. Obviously, wicking shirts for your base-layer. Every running store is going to sell "technical" clothing. I have 2-3 jackets and 2-3 pants that vary in thickness. I just choose what to wear based on the temp/windchill.

For me, the main thing is keeping my hands warm. I'll splurge on a nice pair of gloves/mitts because if my hands get cold, I'm done for the day.

For my face, I grow a beard in the winter and if it gets around 0 or below, I'll rub Vaseline on too.

I bought some Yaktrax last year and they're great for trail running. It helps if the trail has been packed down.

I always tell people that the key is to continue running as the temperature drops, then just add another layer for every 10 degree drop or so. You can't run a fall marathon in 50 degrees and then wait till it's 10 degrees for your next run. Of course, that's going to feel cold. But if yesterday was 20 and today it's 10, that's not so bad.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages to running in winter?

I think the key advantage is that it "forces" us (Minnesotans) to slow down and focus on base-building. We get off the track, stop doing hard workouts and racing every weekend. Plus it makes us mentally tough. Sure yesterday's hill workout was tough when it was -10, but races are tough too.

A disadvantage would be that our winters are 6 months long. Base-building is great, but by about mid-February I'm ready for it to be over.

7. Are there popular running groups that meet in the winter to run?
Who? Where/when do they meet?

Check out the river road or the lakes on any Saturday morning and you'll see groups of people out running. Obviously if it's 20-below you might not see as many. Matt Haugen's P2 group runs all winter, usually meeting in St. Paul. There's a group of "Old Timers" that meets every Saturday at 7:30 at various locations for a 2+ hour run. I'm sure MDRA, Lifetime Fitness, Minnesota Reds, etc. all have groups that meet throughout the winter.

8. Is winter running a rising or sinking trend in your experience?
It seems like the number of runners, in general, is on the rise, so I would guess that the number of winter runners is on the rise.

Quote of the day (Editor’s note: “poor guy”);

“I don’t drink. I don’t kiss girls. These things do an athlete in.” – Suleiman Nyambui


Allez said...

Do you have a temp cut off where you won't go outside and run in it?

Chad said...

Hmm, -20 is probably getting pretty close. Luckily, we don't reach that too often.

Runner Susan said...

ha! poor guy indeed.