Coach Jenny Hadfield at Runner’s World recently wrote a post answering this reader’s question:
I’m training for my first Boston Marathon and struggling to run through this winter’s Polar Vortex. I’m getting concerned that my preparation won’t be enough and will fall short of my typical training plan. I’m also feeling fatigued from long runs in this epic weather we’re having. Do you have any tips for training through the PV? Thanks a bunch! ~John
Poor John. Bad winter to be training for Boston. Spring marathons can be tough for us northerners.
Coach Jenny had some good advice, which you can read here.
As for me, I’ve employed a few tactics to get through this winter.
I scale down mileage considerably every winter. Last weekend, I didn’t run at all (2 degrees? fine, 2 degree with wind? heck, no!) and instead opted to do some cross training workouts with Team Adrenaline — walking icy miles across Presque Isle Bay on Sunday and a balance/strength/core workout on Saturday morning under the pavilion at Shade’s Beach in Harborcreek, which was actually quite pleasant, considering the weather conditions that morning.
It’s all about….
And bundling up… (Truth be told, I was actually overdressed).
Winter is a good time to work on strength and balance and it will help you tremendously come race season!
All photos above by Eloise
I’ve also run a few times during my lunch hour, which I enjoy much more than I ever thought I would. The college I work for keeps all the paths nice and clear, and I can get a good 4 to 5 miles in because when it’s 3 degrees, you don’t sweat much so you don’t have to shower — a few baby wipes, a hairclip and fresh undies will get you through the rest of the workday (OH….don’t you “ewwww” me, you know you’ve all done even grosser things….who among us hasn’t ran a few…or fifteen…errands on their way home from a long run…amiright???)
I’ve have pounded out a few miles on the treadmill over the last few weeks, too. I hate running on the dreadmill and cannot manage more than 4 to 5 miles, though. (Unlike my friend Carol who ran 24 miles…TWENTY FOUR miles on her treadmill last week…I kid you not!).
Also, on a recent snow day at home, I totally booked a family vacation to Florida in March.
I asked around to see how others were handling this winter-from-he#$:
“I do intervals on the treadmill. It’s too cold and I know the treadmill is boring but intervals make it a little more exciting.” —Jessie Zahner
“Cross Training – my knees aren’t handling the change in gait from ice and packed snow very well. I also enjoy swimming and Team Adrenaline!” — Kristen Currier
“Scale back distance and increase cross training!,” — Leslie Cooksey
“Decrease distance (though I’m terrible at following this rule myself) increase cross-training. I prefer lifting/weight machines and swimming now,” — Bethany Kelley
“Cross training and treadmill. I have managed to get the majority of my long runs done outside but marathon training indoors is not my idea of fun. I will get my runs in one way or the other and prefer to have them all outside, but when it gets this cold, I would rather be safe and indoors then injured.” — Amy Cronk
“I still run, but I scale back and do way more cross training - classes at the Y (zumba, kick boxing, spinning), and I do weights/strength training 3x a week. But a good running tip for frigid temps in addition to the obvious “layer/bundle up” is to run with a buddy! No one wants to find a frozen runner buried in a snow drift!” — Karen Beebee
“I have made friends with the treadmill…and try to justify it as wisdom and not wimpyness!” — Jennifer D.
“Polar vortex = opportunity! Last Sunday, we ran from the peninsula, across the bay to the to the Erie Yacht Club, then back across the bay to the monument. From there we ran on, past Horseshoe Pond before returning on the peninsula trail (lake side). You don’t get to run across the bay in warm, easy weather!” — Jason Robertson
“I dress like it’s 20 degrees warmer , put on my YakTrax , and give it h@#$! I focus on keeping my steps quick and light. I’ve been able to run outside all winter using this strategy!” —Ramon Patron, Jr.
”Layers! Scale back as needed. Slower pace. I like Karen’s advice…running buddy!” — Debbie Humphreys
“Like Kristen, my knees have had a hard time with adjusting to the snow and slippery conditions. I’ve cut back on my mileage and focused more on crosstraining.” — Bri Hodges
“I love to run and it’s my sanity! It’s all about this proper layers. If you dress right it’s not bad. I cover my face with a neck warmer and wear double gloves. It slows you down but you can still get great exercise and fresh air! It’s just about toughing it out!” — Karen Groshek
“I’m with Karen, if your layered right, just go. The only time I scale back a bit is when it’s mostly ice, and not many clear spots along the roads. Early mornings (5am) works for me it’s refreshing and there is little traffic which allows for running in the road more ,with little distraction. — Rob Dever
“Wear extra layers on head, neck and hands. Stay close to home and pick routes that are not directly into the wind for long periods of time. Keep time not miles and be prepared to cut it short if things go bad.” — Ginny Sackett
“Wear double layers – shirt, tights and gloves. Make sure I have my buff to pull up over my face if running into the wind and run my planned mileage. I will plan a route that can be cut short if necessary. I also put Vaseline on the exposed parts of my face for protection.” — Karen Manganaro
“Always start against the wind.” — Chris Borgia
“I run on the treadmill hate every minute but I’m think its too cold to run outside. I need at least 25 degrees last time I ran outside under 25 my fingers were numb for months. Sorry not worth it. It’s also a good time to cross train in the winter and take a break from all those long runs.” – Amy Morrow
“Decrease distance and increase cross-training at home and then Team Adrenaline a few times a week!” – Stacey Hammer
“Layers, scale back, and yak trax! Point to point is preferred…especially if the end is at Romolo’s for mint mochas!” – Jen Kelly