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2011/01/04 - Newsletter

What (not) to wear - and other outdoor running tips

Running outdoors??? Brrr!

Welcome again to the tri-strides newsletter.
This issue is for all of you who are sick of hitting the treadmill in this cold weather but don't want to go outdoors for running.

Chicago started to send in its Winter really early this year - snow, cold, ice, all you don't want when you want to train. I do not think there is anybody out there who fancies a 2-hour run on the treadmill or on the stationary bike.

There are two ways to go:
make your stay on the treadmill or stationary bike more pleasant or
go out and run anyway.

Whenever I train on our bike trainer which is in our garage, I have my video ipod with me (a lap top or TV would do you the same service). Depending on your taste, you can watch cycling movies, video podcasts, youtube-videos, whatever you like. Make sure not to rely on the built in speaker of your computer - rather use headphones; your bike trainer will get somewhat noisy. In case you have a free rolling bike trainer (one which only has three rolls to put the bike on and which requires your full attention), you should give this full attention to your ride, though.

On the treadmill (in my health club) I just watch TV - whatever decent channel I can find. Or I use the indoors running track. Running drills are difficult on the treadmill and outright dangerous on ice outside.

But this newsletter was about alternatives to running indoors.

The first rule for running outdoors is wearing bright clothes. Anything non-gray, non-black, non-white, standing out from the snow and the streets. Why? Because you probably will run your shorter runs on the street, not on the sidewalks. Usually sidewalks are only inconsistently cleared and you have to be really careful not to step on ice patches or deep snow drifts. Navigating around cars parked in driveways over slippery surfaces is an extra challenge you will avoid by running on the streets. If you choose sidewalks, prefer to step on snow over ice.

Only run on cleared low-traffic streets and always run 'British' - on the left side so you face oncoming traffic. If you see a car not keeping distance you can evade it (never had to, though).

An alternative are trails, e.g. in a forest preserve. There might be ice on the path but you usually can navigate around.

If you have intervals on your training plan, an indoor track is one option, but you also can estimate interval distances by using the old definition of the mile: mille passus = 1000 double strides - one thousand times hitting the floor with e.g. your right foot. For those 1000 double steps also are 1760 yards you can do the math: For example, 100 yards are 100 * (1000/1760) = 57 double strides. This rough estimate works everywhere, on the trail and oon the streets, even when your neighborhood high school running trail is closed for the Winter.

As for clothing: if you run in Winter, you should get a good pair of trail shoes, some wind proof jacket (bright color - see above), and some dry-fit-type long underwear. Never wear cotton underwear - they will just cling wet and cold to your skin.

Here is what I wear as a guideline:
When it is below 10F, I wear long underwear, tights, a long sleeved running shirt, a fleece top and above all wind proof pants and jacket. Also a balaclava (or scarf and hat) and gloves. You might put vaseline on the exposed parts of your face and/or wear shades.

Between 10F and 35F, I skip the fleece sweater and maybe the wind proof pants if it is not windy.

Between 35F and 45F: No more long underwear. But that's not cold, anyway - that's balmy for Chicagoland.

Even when all these layers seem a lot just for a medium long run, these workouts are much more fun (to me) than running indoors.

Stay tuned for the next issue of this bi-weekly to monthly newsletter.

Greetings from your coach's desk
Dr. Sylvia Zinser
USAT Certified triathlon coach, USA Cycling Certified coach