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Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Bandana: Dashing Through the Snow – Tips for Runners

Not much BBQing happening
on this deck. Post-run stretching?
 photo: Anthony Trendl

You see the same snow I do: Piled high along roadsides, taking over precious parking spots where you work, and drifting deeply on great running paths like the Illinois Prairie Path. Still, the sun is shining, and sometimes, when the wind is not blowing, it is almost pleasant.

Pleasant? The Great Blizzard? The aftermath of the Snow Which Ate Wheaton? Snowlycow, tsnownami, SnowhogDay, Snowtorious B.I.G.?

Yes, pleasant. Perspective is everything: The flickering, shimmering glimmer of a wandering snowflake resting on a lonely branch. The blue sky swashed with a few clouds, contrasting an Earth all white except for the roads scraped just enough so cars can drive through. The flash of red and blue sleds with children attached, holding on for dear life, rushing down neighborhood embankments.

Have I convinced you that bliss can be found in the brisk winter?

* Run slow, going out against the wind and returning with the wind.

* Bundle up, and realize you are not going to enjoy the fluency of a September run.

Alps 21" Snowshoes* Pretend to smell the roses. Right. No roses in February. Smell them anyway. This kind of snow happens rarely. Soak it in, and tell the tale in 20 years about how you fought through 500 feet of snow.
(more on this:

* Avoid running on streets and sidewalks. The cold ground is unforgiving on your knees, and cars will have a difficult time seeing you behind the snow mounds. Black ice is out there as well. One slip and bad things can happen.

* Running in the snow: If you run in the snow itself (my recommendation), run in a marching style. The high stepping will function somewhat similar to running up the Wheaton College stadium steps with less impact.

* Drink water. Despite all the snow on the ground, there is not much moisture in the air. That healthy sweat you felt while dashing through the snow also needs to be replaced.

* If you are older, be extra vigilant. Cold weather can thicken the blood and cause heart issues. Talk to your doctor.

Tips for the Snow-trapped Runner

What will you are unable to run outside for two days?

* Spend time with family. You hardcore runners are the ones I am talking to here. If you are running under 20 miles a week, your time sacrifice is not tremendous. If you are looking at significantly more than this, your spouse might like to see you again. A full-time job and heavy mileage can severely impact relationships with a spouse and children.

* Eat well. Since you have extra time, and are not concerned about the next morning's run, make a full meal with all of the trimmings. Think of it as Thanksgiving in February. Invite a few close friends and feast!

* Sleep in. Rest is good for you body and mind. If by getting up early each morning, you are only enjoying six hours of sleep, imagine how great you will feel after eight hours.

* Stretch. Take a warm bath and stretch. Stretching slowly and carefully all parts of our body is often ignored by runners. Turn on some soft music and give yourself 30 minutes of this. Remember to never jerk and bounce, but gradually get into position and hold.

* Mall walk. Before you start laughing, think how big the malls are. Parking might be tricky with the massive snow mountains, but the change in pace might be fun. Keep your pace faster than a waddle, keeping good form and a longer stride. Wear your running shoes and loose clothing. However, I do not recommend workout clothes (especially tights). Invite some non-running friends, walk enough laps to equal an hour, then stop by that place which makes the huge cinnamon rolls.

* Nothing. If you have been diligent with your training, logging miles upon miles, consider using this opportunity to let your body take a vacation. A little R&R will allow your body to repair some nagging aches.

Running Playlist Song of the Week
"Let It Snow" Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
So maybe it is a Christmas song from 1945. It snowed. You can't fight it. Come on, just run with it.

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Writer Anthony Trendl loves looking at winter from a warm living room. Contact me to send your favorite tips, songs, recipes, or to tell me about your road race. See
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