Distance Runners: How to Train During the Cold Months of the Year
Posted by Jon Gordon on Nov 24 2005 at 04:00PM PST
Training becomes difficult for runners during the winter. Our running paths become covered with snow. Ice and snow also make running on the roads tricky. Add to that, the lack of daylight forces many runners to train, in darkness. For that reason alone, winter is difficult even for those who live in warmer climates. Coach Jon Gordon trained in the upper pennisula of Michigan during his College career. The U.P. of Michigan has four seasons, Winter, Mid Winter, Late Winter, and Next Winter. Coach Gordon found that training outdoors in cold weather during the winter months had major advantages. The mere difficulty of running when the temperature dips makes you tougher. You can also run more miles on snow with less impact on your body. Russian athletes train exclusively in snow for this advantage. However, don't pay too much attention to your training pace, because running in snow will typically cause you to run each mile at a slower pace. On days featuring bad weather, simply run at a comfortable pace without glancing at your watch to check pace. Let your instincts tell you how slow or fast to run. On days when the weather improves and the weather has warmed and the roads are clear, pick up the pace. Another major advantage is most of the competition doesn't train outside. Peter Snell, a pupil of the famed New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard and the 800 and 1,500 gold medalist in the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games, claimed he enjoyed running outdoors in bad weather, because he figured all his rivals were indoors doing nothing. How do you run in cold weather successfully? The secret to running in cold weather is dressing properly for it. As much as 50 percent of your body's heat is lost from your head. Always keep a hat on to prevent heat from escaping. The hat is the first piece to remove if you need to cool off. Put it back on if you cool too much. It is important to protect the ears from forstbite on very cold days -- choose a hat or headband that covers them. Ski masks or hats with windblockers are the best. Next, Mittens or even socks worn as mittens (a U.P. favorite), keep hands warmer than gloves because of the warmth shared by fingers. However, if you prefer Gloves, make sure their breathable ones. When the going gets wet and cold, Gore-Tex mittens are the best. Next, layer your upper body with a long-sleeve shirt, and a jacket. Last, it is vital that you wear running tights designed for cold weather running, underneath sweatpants. If you have trouble finding a place that sells running tights, contact Coach Jon Gordon for suggestions. Road Runner Sports is one of the best suppliers of running tights in the country. If the weather is below 10 degrees Fahrenheit and colder, you may train inside, by running on a treadmill at school, home, or a gym. But if you still want to train outside, make sure you have 3 upper-body layers, two lower-body layers, mittens, and a hat with wind protection. Dedication to winter training will pay off at IHSA State Championships in May.
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