Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Running in a Winter Wonderland

1/25/18 Update 
Over the last few years, I’ve cut way back on my outdoor winter running. Really though, I’ve cut back on my winter running in general.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy running outside in the winter—I do. But, besides running less in general in the winter, I don’t enjoy the preparation that comes with winter running. I need to find a relatively clear route, dress in the right amount and right kind of clothing, choose the right traction gear, or, if I’m snowshoe running, deal with the hassle of finding a good trail, driving there, and putting on and taking off snowshoes with cold fingers.

Still, I miss the days when I ran more outside in the winter—especially with a friend or training group. I like the convenience of jumping on the treadmill or indoor track, knowing exactly what to wear and knowing there won’t be any snow or ice to deal with, but I miss running with friends and I miss the outdoors. Here’s an old post about running outside in the winter:

I've been slow to get myself outside this winter. I've never been a huge fan of running in the dark, and from the beginning of December to the end of January in Minnesota, it's dark when I leave for work and almost dark when I leave for home.

I can still run in daylight on the weekends, but this year I've been dragging my feet getting footwear for the snowy and icy conditions of the Twin Cities sidewalks and trails.

Before Saturday, the only outdoor running I'd done in the snow was a little snowshoe run after work one day. With the snow in Eagan not too deep and the temperatures seasonable, I was really itching to get away from the fluorescent-lit treadmills of the YMCA and into the winter wonderland of snow and ice on the Eagan trails.

With visions of runs on the snowy paths and trails of the Twin Cities, and possibly Rochester (where I am now), last Saturday Laura and I dropped into Marathon Sports. I had a $20 gift certificate I'd won at the Victory Labor Day 5k in September, and I was itching to spend it on some trail shoes.

It just so happened that the gentleman who helped me pick out some shoes was John Long, the owner himself. John helped me decide on a pair of Saucony Pergrine 2s. I won't spend any time reviewing them since Saucony has rebuffed my attempts at procuring free gear. I will, however, say that in my one run so far they felt pretty great. They also look pretty slick.

After running outside in the Peregrines on Saturday afternoon, on Sunday morning I hurriedly drilled some sheet metal screws into the bottom of my older pair of Kinvara 3s. I wanted to get a quick tempo run in before we left town for Rochester, and going to the YMCA was going to eat up too much time.

If you run in a winter climate, I highly recommend this shoe modification. With 3/8 or 1/4 inch sheet metal screws and a hex head drill bit, you can winterize your running shoes in about five minutes. I could tell you more about it, but this article by the great ultra runner Matt Carpenter does it much better than I could.

The downside of running in the Kinvaras, however, is that the upper has practically nothing to it. Its lightweight material and ventilation are great for 2/3 of the year, but running outside in temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit make for some numb tootsies. My tempo run went well, but when I got home my whole body was hot except for my feet, which didn't regain feeling until halfway through my post-run stretching.

Yesterday was another run on the treadmill, and today I'm going to sneak to the YMCA to try out a cycle and core strength class. I'm getting pumped to run the Modesto Half Marathon in March, and while I know a PR is not likely, I'd like to try to run under 1:20.

For those venturing outside soon, enjoy it. While winter running can get complicated, it’s totally worth it.

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