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Winter Running Safety: Where Can I Run?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Monday, February 09, 2015
in Training

Running in the winter can be challenging. I live in New England so during a “good winter” dealing with freezing temperatures and a time period of snow covered roads is a seasonal reality. This winter was incredible until about three weeks ago. We had received barely any snow and I could still see my grass. Since then winter has returned full force and we are now breaking records for snowfall totals. Running on the roads is now impossible.

Some runners insist on running on the roads despite the impossible conditions. Now maybe you don’t understand what I mean by impossible road conditions. Take a look at the picture below. The white line of the road and sidewalk are completely buried in snow. Running on a road like this would be equivalent to running in the middle of the road in the summer. In addition vehicles are now driving on snow/ice and also have limited visibility due to the snow banks.

So why would any runner insist on risking their life to run on main roads? Good question. Running outside in these conditions does not prove that you are tough or some kind of iron runner. It is just plain stupid. Not only are you putting yourself in extreme risk but you also force drivers into impossible situations as they try to avoid hitting you. Please..Please..Please..do not run on these roads until conditions improve.

So where can I run safely?

1)      Treadmill- Most runners hate the treadmill but at certain times of the year it is the best or only option. Join a gym or buy one for your home. Even when winter conditions don’t prevent you from running outside it is not fun to run in sub-zero temperatures or in the darkness all winter. Mixing in a few treadmill runs in shorts and a t-shirt is great when it is dark and 10 degrees outside. Not to mention the risk of slipping on black ice. Embrace the treadmill and many times you can get a much better workout than slipping and sliding outside.

2)      Run in a quiet neighborhood- Once the roads are plowed many people can find a quiet neighborhood where they can repeat small loops without much danger from vehicles. This is fine as long as the neighborhood is virtually traffic free. These type of runs are also boring as you usually have to repeat the same loop numerous times but at least you are not on the treadmill.

3)      Snow shoe running- I am not an expert nor have I attempted snow shoe running but many people enjoy this type of running. Just strap on specially designed snow shoes to your running shoes and you are good to go. This is so popular in some areas there are even numerous snow shoe running races during the winter/early spring.

4)      Cross-training- If your only option is the treadmill and the thought of running 4-5 times a week indoors is not something you could possibly do then consider cross-training. Cut back to 2-3 runs a week and mix in 2-3 alternate workouts such as cycling, elliptical, swimming or some other form of exercise. This will mix up your workouts and help get you through the tough winter months. This is also a great time to try out a spin class, yoga, or any other class that looks interesting at your gym.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that if you live in a winter climate there will be times when you need to adjust your running habits. Runners are creatures of habit and this is tough for some of us but please don’t put yourself or others in danger. I have learned over the years that every winter at some point “treadmill season” will begin and it is just a fact of winter living. Be smart this winter and keep running. Just do it safely.

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Surviving the Tough New England Winter

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Sunday, February 10, 2013
in Weight Loss

Today is the sixth update of my goal to to return to race weight by April 13th. I am in a "sort of" competition with my brother-in-law Mike to reach our mutual goal of 169 pounds. See my first blog for details on where we started. I think you will see we both tackle weight loss in a completely different way. The goal of this series of posts is to show how a couple of average guys get back to their goal race weight.

 

 Dave

 Week Six Summary and Results:  
Surviving the tough New England winter and maintaining your fitness is extremely difficult. Let's be honest...you have every excuse in the book to miss workouts. It's freezing cold and there is 2 feet of snow on the ground. Time to cash it in and wait till spring, right? If you allow yourself to fall into this trap you will be very unhappy with what you look like in April. If you want to get in shape to perform well at spring road races or just want to look good at a Florida beach during April school vacation week the time is NOW to start losing the holiday weight. Don't wait! No excuse! There is no snow at the gym and if anything, it is too warm not cold.

Last week was a good one for me. I mentioned on my last post that I had a bad weigh-in, and I think this week's results prove that. I dropped 2 pounds last week, and I am still going strong.  And it's going to take some mental toughness over the next few weeks.  As the picture above shows, the New England winter dumped close to 2 feet of snow yesterday. It looks like I will be forced to complete all of my runs on the treadmill indefinitely, but I am mentally prepared and I will get it done.

 Exercise:

Sunday- ran 6 miles tempo

Monday- off

Tuesday- ran 5.25 miles easy

Wednesday- ran 10 miles (long run)

Thursday- off

Friday- ran 10 miles (another long run to beat the storm)

Saturday- off...if you call shoveling for hours a day off

Totals: ran 31.25 miles (first time over 30 miles in awhile)

 Results:

 Starting weight: 189   Feb 10th weigh-in: 183   YTD loss (6 weeks): 6 lbs

 

                                                                      Mike

 Week Six Summary and Results:  
Every great athlete will usually have the old adage "finish strong" drilled into his head from the time they first start competing. Finishing strong and pushing through the pain at the end of a game or a run is essential for realizing your best as a competitor. Hitting heartbreak hill and pushing through, or making sure your splits are faster in a 5k, both take practice and discipline. When I finish any training run, I usually am running uphill. I try to go as fast as I can and after I cross the finish line, I want to have nothing left for the day.

 The same is true when losing weight. The beginning is easy, you can see fast results, get caught up in the adrenaline of the "race", but after the pack weeds out, that is where it gets hard. Losing weight is like running, you are alone, most often racing against your own time and goals, keeping focus over long periods of time.  

 

 Like running, the only way losing weight works is to make it a lifestyle choice, not a goal.  When I was new to running, to finish a 5k was my first goal. When I finished my first 5k, I didn't stop because I met my goal, I just kept running. Do I train the same every day, week after week? Truthfully no, but I wish I did. Some weeks I am busy, some weeks I have other things I just need to do, and still other weeks, I find myself in "running burnout". Losing weight is a part of something bigger, being healthy. Like running a race is part of being a runner. So even if I have a bad week, bad weigh-in, or get sick, it does not matter. I have had slow races or have run injured, just to keep up the practice. And I have taken it easy, but have gotten back up and run faster or stronger.

 

Now I am approaching the end of this particular goal, and this is where the focus has to be greater, and I have to remember that losing weight is part of a lifestyle choice. The weight is not my ultimate goal, it is to be healthy.  Bell lap, under 5 pounds to go...174.2, see you at the gym!

Exercise:

 Sunday- 1 hour elliptical

Monday- 75 minute run

Tuesday- off

Wednesday- 1 hour yoga

Thursday- 1 hour spin

Friday- 1 hour run

Saturday- 1 hour run

Totals: 1 hr yoga + 1 hr cycling + 1 hr elliptical + 3.25 hrs running

  Results:

 Starting weight: 192.5  Feb 10th weigh-in: 174.2  YTD loss (6 weeks): 18.3 lbs

 Week Six Recap:

 Losing weight is a marathon not a sprint. As we get closer and closer to April, the key is to know you are on the right path and continue moving forward. You have to maintain focus on your goal day after day week after week. Mike survived his vacation last week and has returned to juicing. He is determined to hit his goal weight ASAP...he isn't content to wait until April like I am. Since I was training outside for most of my runs the most recent blizzard will put more pressure on me than Mike to maintain focus. Training indoors is tough and gets boring quick, especially for long runs. We will see what happens....

As you can see from the results of the past 6 weeks Mike's strategy is extreme but really works. He has lost over 18 pounds in 6 weeks. If you would like more detail on what he is doing check out his blogs from last year. He used this strategy to lose over 60 pounds in 2012.

Mike's Story

 

Next Update February 19th!

 

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