Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Surviving Winter Running

The heart of darkness is upon us. Winter running in the dark. Whether I run before work or after, it's dark. And cold. The short days will eventually give way to spring, but not quite yet. 

I always forget how much winter running, especially in Illinois, can suck. Last year we had a very mild winter--almost no snow, very few really cold days, no ice. It was quite nice. Not this year! We've had temps well below freezing (-15F), plus lots of wind (windchills of -35F), and a fair amount of snow and ice. Plus, the snow takes a long time to melt when the temps rarely go above freezing. Of course, as I write this, we've had a couple of abnormally warm days (40s with rain). Now the snow/ice has switched to mud. Still not fun. How do we survive such crappy winter running conditions?

With the cold weather, and snow, I've been hitting the treadmill much more often than usual. I normally make fun of treadmill runners. And hate the experience when I do it. I've changed my perspective. I've been ENJOYING the treadmill runs. If you mix it up, throw in some music, and challenge yourself, it's quite fun. Really. I've done progression runs (start slow, keep speeding up, finish fast), tempo (warm-up, then 3 miles at lactate threshold, then cool-down), intervals (400m, 800m, and full mile repeats), and musical fartleks--fast for one song, slow for the next. Have yet to incorporate treadmill hills...but that is coming soon! The only runs I still hate on the treadmill are the steady slow ones. Boring. 

When I do too many days in a row on the treadmill, I venture out onto the roads (usually clear of snow/ice). You bundle up and just finish the run. If the trails aren't too muddy or snow packed, those are always great adventures in the winter. By mixing treadmill, road, and trails, I'm surviving another winter in central Illinois. February will be here soon. Days are slowly getting longer...minute by minute, day by day. Spring will be here soon. I'll survive. 

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