Let me set the stage for this post by reminding you of an experience you've probably had. It's freezing cold outside, the snow is falling and your inside staying warm. You've just had dinner and are walking into the living room when something through the front window catches your eye..."it couldn't be" you say. You rub your eyes and look again; sure enough, there is a crazy person running down the street with a smile on their face. I would bet if you're reading this post, you've been that "Crazy Person" running in a blizzard or the pouring rain.
Runners are a unique breed - there's not much that will keep the dedicated runner from getting in his or her daily run. However, just because runners have the mindset to get themselves out the door in extreme conditions, doesn't mean they are immune to effects of temperature, wind, and moisture -- a great cold weather run can turn into a miserable, yet memorable event quickly if your core and appendages aren't protected.
Jackets, pants, gloves, and hats, are key accessories in cold, wet, and windy environments. Advancements in materials allow cold weather clothing to repel wind and rain, keep body heat in, and allow moisture to escape.
There are many different brands and styles of running jackets, pants, and accessories in the market today; so, how do you know which one if best for you? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before selecting a jacket:
Below is a selection of cold weather running apparel to help you find the perfect items to help keep you warm allowing you to finish enjoying what's left of winter running.
To improve in distance running, there will come a point where your normal 4 to 5 mile run will not make you any faster, you will need to do some sort of speed training. Speed training consists of three main types of runs: Fartleks, intervals, and tempo runs. Each run has a different purpose, but all three combined are used to increase speed, ability to sustain a quicker pace for longer period of time and improve mental toughness.
Fartleks (or speed play) are specific amounts of time run at a specific effort with a specific amount of rest in between (ie. 5 x 2 min. with 1 min. rest/jog in between). These runs aid in your ability to run a quick pace when tired and to deal with pace changes that happen in a race.
Intervals are typically done on a track and are repeats of certain distances in specific times with specific amounts of rest in between (ie. 4 x 400m in 75 sec. w/2 min. rest in between). Intervals are usually run at a quicker pace than Fartleks and are designed to increase overall speed and get you comfortable with running while fatigued.
Tempo runs are typically longer distances or time run at a quick, yet sustainable pace. This type of run is designed to increase mental toughness and your ability to sustain pace when tired.
The question is, how fast should your be running each interval, repeat, or tempo? If you have the knowledge and time, you could get specific and come up with paces or times you should aim to be at in order to help reach your intended goal. However, these times would change as you improve and your goal changes. If you want to go the route of having specific times or pace to train at, I would recommend getting a coach to help determine the paces and times specific for you.
I want to share a much easier way for determining how fast you should be running each of the three speed runs - its EFFORT. 100% effort would be running as fast as you possibly can, giving it your all - you should not be able to talk while running at this effort and you will not be able to sustain it for very long. 90% effort is slightly under “all out” - you should still not be able to speak and it will be a little more controlled. 80% effort is more sustainable and you should only be able to speak a few words at a time while running but not full sentences. 70% effort should feel comfortably hard - meaning it’s just fast enough to where you feel a little uncomfortable but with focus you can maintain that effort for a while. You should be able to speak a full sentence while running at this effort but not carry on a conversation. 50-60% effort should feel comfortable and you should be able to carry on a conversation will running.
When running Fartleks, anything ranging from 1 min. to 2 min. sets should be run at 90% effort. Anything from 3 min. to 8 min. sets should be run at 80% effort. Then from 9 min. to 15 min. sets should be run at 70% effort. An example Fartlek workout would be: Warm up by running 1 mile. Then do 1 x 9 min. at 90% effort followed by a 2 min. jog. Then do 2 x 5 min. at 80% effort followed by 1 min. jog between each set. Then do 3 x 2 min. at 90% effort followed by 1 min. jog between each set. Cool down with a 1 mile jog. Use this type of run 3-4 months prior to your goal race doing at least one a week.
When running Intervals on a track - distances from 100m to 200m can be run at 100% effort. Distances from 400m to 1000m can be run at 80-90% effort. Then, distances from 1200m to 3200m can be run at 80% effort. An example Interval workout would : Warm up by running a mile. Then do 1 x 1600 (1 mile) at 80% effort followed by a 2 min jog; then do 2 x 800m at 80% effort with a 1 min jog in between; then do 2 x 400m at 90% effort with a 1 min jog in between; then do 4 x 200m at 90% effort with 30 sec jog in between. Cool down with a 1 mile jog. Introduce interval runs into your schedule 2 months prior to your goal race. You can do 1-2 interval sessions per week depending on how much you want to do and how your body feels.
For Tempo runs, you should run the majority at 70% effort. Aim for 15 to 30 min. runs and you can even build to a 1 hour long tempo run. If you want to practice running your second half quicker than your first half, increase the effort of the second half to 75 - 80% or to where you can speak a few words but not full sentences. Introduce Tempo runs into your schedule 3-4 months prior to your goal race, doing one once a week or every other week, and continue doing them up to two weeks prior to your goal race.
Focusing on effort vs. specific time will make speed training less complicated and help you become more intune with your body. Now, get out there and let speed work take your running to the next level.
Do you need a GPS watch for running? This may be a question you've asked yourself recently and have struggled deciding if you are going to bite the bullet and get one or not. Well, the answer is simple....possibly. Ask yourself this questions, why do I want one? If your answer is to simply time your run or know how many minutes you've run or worked out, then a GPS watch isn't really needed. However, if your answer is to track distance covered on a single run and over a period of time, know how fast you're going at any given moment during the run and your average pace over the entire run, track the vertical feet you've climbed, and maximize and track your overall training, then a GPS watch is your answer.
A wide variety of GPS watches exist on the market today. Some watches do the bare minimal such as pace and distance covered and usually have a shorter battery life when in GPS mode. Other GPS watches offer the minimal options plus heart rate monitoring stride length, altitude, more accurate GPS, and more. However, along with more options comes higher cost.
Below are some GPS watch options to aid in your search for finding the perfect watch for your needs. Here are five things to consider as you review and compare the different watches: (1) Accuracy of the GPS - if you stick mainly to the roads, then a cheaper option will probably do. However, if you do a majority of your runs on trails, in the trees or around tall city buildings, a model with a more accurate GPS would be to your benefit. (2) Reading visibility of the watch, can you see the info you want while running. (3) Battery life - not just how many days the watch will last on a charge, but how long it will run while in GPS mode. (4) Simplicity - how easy is it to use. (5) Budget - how much are you willing to spend.
Garmin Forerunner 35
Apple Watch Series 3
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
Polar M430 GPS