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Winter Running

Posted by Coach Jenny Hadfield Nov 19, 2007

I am sure for many of you the start of the winter running season begins when it snows or in December at the Winter Solstice.  That makes perfect sense.  For me, Winter running always kicks off with racing the local Chicago Turkey Trot  on Thanksgiving morning. 


It starts at 9am so there is plenty of time to sleep in and still get to the start.  It is an 8K and plenty of miles (and Ks) to tackle before grazing those wonderful turkey day treats.  But most of all, its a great way to socialize with the runners in the community and wish them a happy holiday.  I consider the running community an extension of my family (the part that doesn't think I'm crazy for running!).  


I look forward to this day almost as much as I look forward to the official start of the Spring running season (Shamrock Shuffle).    On the surface, Winter running sounds just awful, but after a hot and humid Summer it sure is a treat to run in the cold temperatures.  There is an honesty to running through Winter.  The cold blustery days teach me exactly how strong or weak I am in my running phases and reminds me of the importance of mental strength. 


There is also a solitude about running in the Winter.  There are rarely other runners out there and in most cases its just me, the cool, crisp weather and the sound of my feet hitting the ground.  It is a great way to defrag from the high intensity of the Summer season and run easy for a few months. 



Like the change of seasons, our bodies need phases of training.  It makes for an interesting and motivating year of running but it also allows our bodies to rest, train, perform at peak levels.  So, as the leaves fall off the trees and I begin to set out my Winter apparel for the new season's workouts, I look forward to a fresh phase of running and one that will help me recover from the magnificent year I've had.





Happy Trails,





Coach Jenny



Check out Coach Jenny's Training Programs HERE 



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I am getting up in miles for my long training runs in preparation for the Disney Marathon . Although I am running the race with my brother, he lives in St. Louis so we aren't able to train together. I had to run 15 miles Friday and I just couldn't motivate myself to run along my usual training route on the lakefront path in Chicago. It is a great place to train as it runs 18 miles along the beautiful lakefront, but it is where I coach year-round and I am just plain burnt out on the course.



So, when the motivation and scenery is lacking in my long runs, I add an element of adventure to spice things up. I decided to run home from the north shore, or on a point-to-point course.  I mapped out on the USATF map routing website  and calculated where 15 miles north of our home is. Then had my husband John drop me off and ran home!  It is my favorite way to get in a long run because every step brings you closer to your goal (home), the course is new and it includes a few great hills which are lacking in the city.



As I ran my way south towards the city, I navigated to find quiet side streets with less traffic.  It became a game of finding the best route home.  It was a beautiful fall day and there was a nice tail wind to push me forward. Mixing up your terrain is the easiest way to bring new energy and excitement to your runs. Especially when you are running long...



My next long run I hope to run with my brother Thanksgiving weekend. It will give us a chance to catch up and learn each other's pace. It will be a 16 miler, and another good opportunity to run point to point. But this time I may have John drop us off on the south end of the lakefront path and run 16 of the 18 miles north to show off our beautiful city.



The next time your motivation is lacking, try a point to point route and see what you can find along the way!



Happy Trails,



Coach Jenny

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Excuse me for a second while I get up on my soapbox...


Over the weekend a friend sent me this blog post

on  I encourage you to read it but beware, feelings of anger and thoughts of throwing

something across the room may happen. 


The Cliff Notes version is the author (who has never actually finished a marathon, but tried once) writes about how Oprah and all the slower runners have wrecked the competitive spirit.  He writes:


"With all these runners, and all this technology, you'd think America wouldbe turning out faster and faster marathoners. Instead, the opposite ishappening. The more we run marathons, the slower we get -- an averageof 45 minutes slower over the last 25 years. Ryan Hall is the swiftestAmerican-born marathoner ever. His best race isn't in the top 250 ofall time."He must not have done his homework when he wrote this blog on Friday because Ryan Hall beat the Marathon Trials record from the early 80s with an outstanding 2:09:02 on a very challenging, hilly Central Park course.  And it was only his third marathon ever.  That, and the top three men (Dathan Ritzenhein and Brian Sell) a spot on the Olympic Marathon Team are training on "Teams"sponsored by Nike, Brooks/Saturn, and Asics.  These companies are investing in developing elite US marathon runners BECAUSE of the masses.  And it is working.


He also fails to mention Deana Kastor who broke the American Marathon record and won a bronze medal in Athens.  Little does he know that the elite runners are getting stronger because of the masses of mortal runners toeing the line at marathons.  The elite runners are also the first ones to encourage mortals to run.   They are by no means negatively affected by the slower runners.  The larger the race, the larger the prize purse and sponsorship.  Runners fast and not-so-fast contribute to their winnings.  


It also hit a cord with me because he blames Oprah and the Penguin, who just happens to be my loving husband.  I don't know Oprah but I love who she is and what she's done.  Her marathon was all about transformation in

her own life.  And she ran it in a very respectable time too.  John has spent the better part of 12 years motivating inactive people to get active and discover the runner within.  With obesity creeping up to being the most deadly disease in the nation, getting people active is a very good thing.  


And yes, the average finish times are slower than they were 20 years ago, but there were a mere 1,000 or fewer runners in marathons then too.  The times are slower because there are 30,000 runners not 1,000!  It simple math.  Not to mention, had the author tried to run a marathon 20 years ago, he would have been in the back of the pack.  Which is the group he is blaming for the dumming down of the sport. 


Today's runners fast and slow are motivating tomorrow's champions.  The sons, daughters and even grandkids are watching their parents finish the race and that not only motivates them to run it also gives them permission to try.  Life is short.  Get out there and run, cycle, and be fit.  And never let anyone tell you that you can't.  Because being a marathoner is not about how fast you get to the finish, it is about having the tenacity to train, prepare and gather up the courage to show up at the start line.







Happy Trails,







Coach Jenny
















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