Get Off the Treadmill

Ok, so I get it, the Florida girl who hates the cold says get off the treadmill. Easy for me to say right? Kinda. I’m ACTUALLY a Maine girl. But………. when I lived there I was overweight, out of shape, and played the flute most of the time so running in the cold? Not so much. So how about this? I moved BACK to the northeast in 2010 when I was VERY much a runner. In fact my first winter back was one of the snowiest on recent record and I had to start Boston marathon training in the middle of it. NOT so easy.

I hate treadmills, yet I spent my first week of Boston training on that horrid belt. It was an awful week. 42 miles of pure hell. I’m an outdoor girl and hate the feeling of being trapped. Not to mention, the one fact people forget about a treadmill: if you slow down while running on the treadmill you fall off it, so you are far less likely to slow down. In a race if you slow down you JUST SLOW down. I knew I needed to learn to embrace the freezing temps but I just didn’t know how. I then went into the city one night for a B.A.A seminar on training. It was 15 degrees that night and the wind was whipping in the city. I couldn’t believe I was bothering to venture out in that. It ended up being exactly what I needed. The first thing they said was GET OFF THE TREADMILL. The Boston marathon is a hard course you need to run outside. I knew this already, having run it the previous year but apparently I needed to drive 45 minutes into the city on a freezing cold evening to hear other runners say it. Tears started to roll down my cheeks. I HATE COLD. Hate. Hate. Hate. So how did I learn to embrace the winter months of training for Boston?

  1. I planned beautiful routes that were less traveled by cars as the snow banks were so high there were no longer sidewalks and I ran in the road. I know people think this is insane, but as long as you are not running in the dark and make sure to stay extremely visible it is a viable solution. And better than falling asleep on the treadmill and getting a concussion on the wall when you fall off.
  2. I looked online for a running group in Boston. The heartbreak hill striders had a group run every week on the course and although it was a 45 minute drive, it was EXTREMELY fun and well attended so there were lots of people to distract me from the fact that my hands were freezing off and I was getting frostbite. They can also take you to the hospital if you fall on the ice and break your bones which DID happen to a few poor runners.
  3. Dress appropriately. Although you may not look as cute as you’d like, warm clothes are a must. The right kind. Moisture wicking layers that you can strip off and tie around your waist if needed. Although gloves are cute, they do absolutely zilch to keep your fingers warm in the cold. I wear wool socks over my gloves 🙂
  4. Wool socks on your feet. Breathable ones. Tights and wind pants if it’s windy. And yes boys can wear tights too.
  5. Cover your HEAD and EARS, no you won’t get sick if you don’t but cold ears are miserable.
  6. Run slower. Too snowy? Just go slower……. I know novel idea right? Aerobic capacity is aerobic capacity…….. it’s similar to trail running get some good shoes with good traction….. they even make yak trax for your shoes for better traction. If you have to do speed work and you have no track fartleks and tempos can do the trick easily.
  7. If you need to supplement with the treadmill I get it, but Boston is a hard course. Get out there and look at it like an adventure instead of a chore. I actually ran Boston 2 minutes faster than the previous year on less speed training. I felt pretty darn badass getting out there in that weather…….. so bad ass I moved to Florida.
On Track

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