"My training is ruined because I can't run outside!"
That is the general tone from my east coast runners this week. They are under a huge blanket of snow and are being forced inside due to the dangerous conditions. I am a big believer in getting out the door and braving the elements. I think you need to be prepared for any conditions you might face on race day. If you only run outside when it is warm and sunny, how will you react when it is cool and rainy on race day? However, ice and several feet of snow make running outside too risky.
Here are the concerns I have heard this week from several runners:
Q: I heard that running in the severe cold is bad for your lungs. Should I run in the cold?
A: Cold is not an excuse for skipping a run. Get the proper gear and get out the door.
Q: What is the proper cold weather gear?
A: Layers! Start with a compression base layer. Then add a long sleeve technical shirt, gloves and wool running socks. That should do the trick down to the 40’s. In the 30’s add a thicker long sleeve shirt or fleece vest and pants or tights for your legs and a hat. Into the 20’s add a fleece jacket and disposable hand-warmers in your gloves. When the temperature drops below 20 add a heavier jacket.
Q: Due to the rules at my gym I can only use the treadmill for 20 minutes during busy times! What do I do?
A: Mix it up at the gym. Run 20 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes on the elliptical machine and 20 minutes on the stationary bike. It is not exactly a perfect replacement for your run but it is probably the next best thing. Your heart and muscles still get 45, 60, 90 minutes of cardio work and your legs don’t take as much of a beating.
Q: These ten days stuck inside are going to wreck my mileage! How will I ever make it up?
A: Instead of mileage, think of it in terms of "time spent moving". Instead of 8 hours of running this week, you get 2.5 hours of running and 6 hours of "other". Your cardio system does not know whether you are running, cycling, whatever... it is still working hard. You can put your “running equivalent” in your running log instead of mileage.
Q: When the snow melts should I make up my missed mileage?
A: NO… once the ice melts do NOT, repeat NOT, try to make up for lost time! This is a tried-and-true recipe for injury. Just pick up where you left off. If you diligently cross-train inside for a week you will NOT lose any fitness. You might actually benefit from the cross-training and give your legs a break from the pounding.
Run smart… and stay warm!