Running in the winter, a harsh necessity for those wanting to keep their fitness they gained from the previously pleasant and warmer months. When the temperatures drop, the cold air becomes an abrasive element. Why does it hurt so much to breathe in cold air? Why do you lose feeling in your fingers, even if you have gloves on?
Frozen fingers and toes
Your fingers and toes become numb because of vasoconstriction. Blood flow to your extremities is reduced and focused on vital organs such as your heart. This is also why the most common areas of frostbite are your toes, fingers and ears.
A nose that runs when you run
Cold air contains no humidity or moisture. When inhaled, it dries out your internal passages, especially your nasal passages. Your nose drips to try to relieve the dryness, but overcompensates in the process, leading to an endless annoying drip.
Increased difficulty to run
Have you felt that your runs in the cold seem more challenging to accomplish than in warmer temperatures? In cold temperatures, your body has to work extra hard to keep your core temperature up. The shivering you do to warm up, uses up energy, leaving you with less energy for your run. Don't be surprised if the routes you normally run fast and easy on, become harder to do so. There is a blessing in disguise. Your metabolic rate and calorie burning abilities are enhanced by the harsh, cold weather.
Lungs on fire
Does it feel like your lungs burn with every breath you take? Surprisingly, it's not your lungs. Your body has an amazing ability to warm up cold air as it travels through you. By the time air has reached your lungs, it has been reformed to match your internal temperature. The fiery sensation is associated with your trachea. It too dries out considerably from the dry, cold air. When your trachea is dry, your breathing creates a burning sensation, making it feel as though your lungs are on fire.
Regardless of what you do, your muscles feel tight running in the wintery cold. The colder the temperature, the more difficult it becomes for them to contract. as they can in warmer ones. Less oxygen is able to release from your body's hemoglobin, which less oxygen for your muscles, leaving them feeling stiff. Be cautious of making matters worse. There is a tendency for runners to make matters worse by doing warming up or stretching inside, failing to realizing that their will muscles tighten again when they step out into the cold. Be sure to warm-up in the same cold temperatures you'll be running in.
Happy happy holidays and happy new year to all you runners. Be well and run on!
As 2015 comes to a close, I congratulate all you runners out there who have ran your heart out in your marathons. You've pushed yourself beyond your limits, achieved goals you thought were out of reach. You've done quite awesome. After logging all of those miles in your most recent marathon , there's no doubt you have a good aerobic base, so what happens now? Do you start your next marathon training asap, dial down the distance and race shorter distances such as a 5k, or perhaps shut things down, take a lengthy period of time and let your body recover?
Much of the Elite marathoners take about a day off of running for every mile in the marathon, which comes to 21 to 28 days of rest or minimal running. It's a conservative approach that helps to prevent injuries associated with over training, as well as give the mind time to rest and avoid burning out. However, applying this approach may lead you to lose your fitness, leaving to start all over again to build your running body back up.
Much of it is dependent upon how your body feels after the marathon. It's quite common to feel a perpetual soreness, jello-like legs, and lethargy. Until symptoms such as these, have dissolved, it's wise not to do another marathon so soon.
What did I do?
After the Morgan Hill Marathon on October 25, 2015, I had the Revel City Marathon just 13 days later. No coach or experienced marathoner I talked with, recommended I attempt such a thing. They said it was likely I'd get injured, and that it was crazy to even conceive of the idea. I didn't have any data to support my case. I simply had the belief that I could do it it. Not only did I believe I would do it, but I would run my fastest marathon to date and qualify not for one, but two of the Elite marathons (Boston & New York City), within a single year.
I listened to my body closely. The next three days I did 1 to 2 hour recovery rides on my cycling trainer indoors. My reasoning was that I wanted to keep up my cardio while allowing my connective tissue (bones, ligaments, tendons, etc.) to heal. I still had my fitness from the Morgan Hill Marathon, there was no need to do any hard training to gain more. In my opinion, if I recovered right, I'd gain more for the Revel City Marathon. After the 3 days of recovery rides, I began implementing recovery runs of 6 to 8 miles. If I felt like it wasn't good to run, I hopped on my cycling trainer for an indoor recovery session. After 13 days, I lined up at the starting line of the Revel City Marathon, feeling fresh, and ran a 02:49:15, setting a new PR and qualifying for the Elite NYC Marathon over 3 minutes faster than required (02:53:00).
What should you do?
The first thing you have to consider is that there is no absolute formula for recovery. Each of us are unique in how our bodies recover. The most important thing you can do is listen to your body, and listen closely. Remember that running provides the workload, but it's rest and recovery that allows your muscles to repair and be enhanced by the workload. There's no point in training hard if it's not going to benefit your running. Perhaps start by taking a day of rest. Heck, you gave your best, you've earned it. Try cross training such as swimming or cycling, doing so with light exertion. These activities will utilize the same aerobic system you use for running, without impact. If you feel that your body is ready for running, start out with a low mileage and build from there. Here's an example of a 4 wk recovery training plan from renowned running coach Hal Higdon (www.halhigdon.com). The "race" on Sun of Week 4 to help you with motivation. After the "race", feel free to pick your next training or racing goal
You know yourself better than anyone. As long as you listen to your body, you'll be able to know how to recover and be ready for your next marathon.
Be well and run on!
I lined up at the start of the CIM Marathon in Sacramento, CA, clinging to an emergency blanket and marching in place to keep warm. The weather report the day before showed there would be a strong chance for heavy winds and rain, it did not prove false. Tiny drops drizzled and gusts of wind shook the banners hovering over the starting line. My mind ran through a gauntlet of thoughts. I was trying to find out what I was here for. Why was I running this marathon?
A month prior to this race I had wanted to set another PR. I had set a gusty time of 2hrs 45min. When I learned of the weather on race day, I did a reality check. I had accomplished two of the biggest goals for a marathoner, qualifying for both the Elite Boston Marathon and the Elite NYC Marathon, and I had done this within a single year. My new goal for this marathon would be to finish strong and in good health, ready for 2016. My new time goal would be a sub 3 hour marathon.
The gun went off and no sooner did the rain really begin to rain. My shoes quickly turned into sponges that squished with every footfall. I couldn't help but smile at the ordeal I had found myself in. In these situations, you get the opportunity to enhance your ability to adapt, and that's what I did. I shortened my stride and dialed my pace down a bit to avoid slipping. I stayed within a pack of runners to shield myself from the wind, moving out only if the pack was slowing down. Eventually I ran out of packs of runners and found myself spread out among a few runners treading the soaked streets, the wind finally getting its chance to howl at me. I felt cold the entire race, having no luck to dry up due to the continuous rain. All this was good mental training as far as I was concerned. The more discomfort and pain, the better. You don't ask life for the perfect hand, you play the hand you're dealt to your best, and become stronger and better as a result.
I did a systems check at mile 20 and it was clear that my legs were hurting and tired. I wouldn't be able to hold the 6:37 pace. The only thing left to do was to fade into a sub 3 time. It's amazing that when you have no other choice, you find out how strong you are. There was a lot of valuable lessons I learned this year. Among these lessons, was knowing when to push it, and knowing when to pull it. In the remaining miles I passed over a handful of marathoners who had passed me earlier in the race, now limping or pulled over to the side. They had pushed themselves too much, and now were unable to finish. I had never seen so many marathoners injured in a race before.
In the midst of the pain and fatigue, the desire to finish strong lingered in my veins. The final mile I gave one last push. Each runner ahead was motivation, they were goals to conquer, bringing me ever closer to the finish. As I came around a left turn, I saw two more runners ahead, and just beyond them, the finish. Whatever juice I had left went into my muscles. With one final kick I passed up one runner, beating him by 9 seconds, missing the second runner by a mere 2 seconds. Regardless, I had given my best and left everything out there. I had accomplished my goal, running a 02:56:24 marathon, closing 2015 on a high note.
"It's important to know
that at the end of the day
it's not the medals you remember.
What you remember is the process,
What you learn about yourself by
challenging yourself, the experiences
you share with other people, the honesty
the training demands -- those are things
nobody can take away from you whether
you finish twelfth or you're an Olympic Champion."
-Silken Laumann, Canadian Olympian
Be well and run on!