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By Lora Erickson, BlondeRunner.com
Winter can pose many additional challenges for runners. Poor air quality and cold temperature can drive asthmatic runners indoors or to travel to higher elevations to get out of the inversion. Obviously breathing bad air can pose health risks so it’s important to check and see if levels are safe to exercise in. To check air quality in your area visit airnow.gov. Some people opt to run outdoor with masks however often complain of having a hard time getting enough air exchange and the condensation in the mask can be annoying. I suggest taking the workout indoors if the air quality is bad. Treadmills can have many benefits this time of year. Not only do they provide a more giving surface and they obviously don’t have the concerns of slipping. It’s convenient and allows bathroom breaks if needed. It is also easy to set a pace and just hold that pace on the treadmill. While it can feel like a “hamster wheel” to some it offers safety from traffic and can be done any time of day or night. I know many young mothers with small children that utilize a treadmill extensively; however, I often caution them when they start running outdoors more in the spring to do it gradually to allow the body time to adapt to harder surfaces.
If you really struggle with indoor or “dreadmill” running, I suggest cross-training on bad air quality days. Indoor cycling and swimming can have many benefits for runners and challenge the body in different ways. I always like to suggest yoga for my runners and triathletes as well. This is great for recovery and flexibility. Don’t be afraid to utilize the snow for other fitness activities; like cross-country skiing or snow shoeing. These are all great aerobic workouts to supplement the training. It can also prevent burnout or keep you active if you tend to not to want to run in the snow.
While exercising outside on better air quality days I suggest dressing in layers. As your body warms-up you can remove layers to control temperature. I often see runners wearing too many layers so usually in 20 degree temps I wear two layers on the top, earwarmers, gloves or mittens (sometimes with hand warmers) and tights. If it’s snowing I also suggest a hat or visor so you don’t “blink” yourself to death. Surprisingly, I often wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from the sun’s bright reflection off the snow. Glasses can also block the wind from making the eyes water and tears from dripping down the lacrimal ducts causing your nose to run. This can be annoying and lead you to wiping your nose excessively.
Often while running outdoors the feet can get wet and cold and there are concerns of slipping. For this I would suggest running in trail shoes that have more traction and are generally more water proof. I also like to use a water-proof spray on my shoes and clothes. If you can stay dry you won’t lose as much heat. Short gators can also prevent snow from getting in your shoes and melting. If you are concerned about black ice and slippery surfaces you might consider using yaktrax, IceTrekkers, or Kahtoola MicroSpikes. They can all be found at Wasatch Running Center or a local running store in your area.
If you are like me and it takes you a while to warm-up in cold temperatures but you don’t like to be stuck indoors, I would suggest warming up on a treadmill or indoor exercise bike then take the run outside. Remember running on slick snowy surfaces isn’t going to be as fast as you can go on a treadmill but it’s still a great workout. If you usually train by pace I would suggest using heart rate numbers to train with during the winter. Contact me if you need more training tips.
Another outdoor concern is traffic safety. I often find myself winding back and forth from the sidewalk to the street to avoid really deep snow or icy patches. As always be aware of your surroundings and assume cars don’t see you. I also suggest running against traffic, wearing bright colors with reflexive strips, blinking lights or utilize the Tracer 360 visibility vest (noxgear.com 20% off with code BLONDERUN) which can be seen from all directions. I don’t use music as much in the winter so I can hear my surroundings better and stay safe. It is also helpful to train with others as a group since you are much more visible to traffic.
Either way, whether you plan to workout indoors or outdoors don’t let anything get in your way. Yes, winter can make it more challenging to get the workouts in but if you want the rewards you have to do the work. No excuses.
Coach Lora Erickson
About the Author:
Coach Lora Erickson is a nationally ranked and All-World Triathlete as well as certified running, triathlon, swimming, and cycling instructor. She has a true passion for nutrition education, fitness & health promotion and has been coaching for over 25 years. She works with all level of athletes and relishing the opportunity to help beginners harness their true potential. She offers community classes, in-person and on-line custom coaching. To learn more contact her directly at email@example.com or visit BlondeRunner.com to read health articles.
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If you are looking for a great running race calendar for Utah I highly suggest checking out UtahRunning.com
It’s a great resource!
Coach Lora Erickson
I am a big fan of yoga! I think it’s really great for runners and I know it helps my muscles recover from workouts. It’s something that I started integrating into my training some time ago and I believe one of the reasons I am able to function so well today. I was thrilled to try out this new wheel I got from YogDev for my own home practice at home (my kids love it too). It’s great because the wheel comes with this little card showing you how to use it doing the poses, it’s simple.
The bridge and bow were very doable for me. Many of the poses are beyond my ability but it gives me something to strive for. It’s a high quality product. This could also make a great gift for any fitness enthusiast. Learn more Learn more about yogdev wheels
Coach Lora Erickson
Want some more fitness structure and accountability? Hire Coach Lora, contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
This has been a busy year with races and travel starting with the 1st place division win at the March Madness Half Marathon followed by a memorable Oceanside 70.3 Ironman event in April (Read the Oceanside Race Report). That was a tough race beginning with a difficult choppy ocean swim leading to salt-water consumption that affected my race causing GI issues during the ride and ultimately lead to a slow run with more bathroom breaks than I care to admit. Needless to say it was a huge disappointment as I had trained hard for this event and was prepared to have a strong performance. It is hard to start out the triathlon season with a bad race but I was determined to prove to myself how strong my running was so in May I took on the Ogden Half Marathon completing it in a time of 1:34 taking the 1st Overall Masters spot in a major downpour and chilly conditions. While that eased the blow of the Oceanside bomb it was still a difficult race to “get over.” I resolved to learn from it and tackle my swim aversion, cycling fears and cope better with past injury; unexpectedly winning a trip to Hawaii to train with Dave Scott and compete in the Honu 70.3 Ironman event really helped. It made me face an open water salty ocean swim head-on again. I ended up having a strong swim in Hawaii (the clear warm ocean water was awesome!) and subsequently I placed 9th in my division with a strong bike and run. I was pleased with the performance and will always cherish the memories I made there with Dave Scott and the BioAstin community. What an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience! I moved forward with my plans on doing the Boulder 70.3 Ironman the following weekend since I had already signed-up. I knew it was going to be tough with extra travel and jetlag. My body would be tired from racing a 70.3 only 7 days before. The back-to-back 70.3 was tougher than I expected leading to severe leg and feet cramping starting on the ride and worsening on the run so it was a victory just to finish. I was still glad I did it and have a lot more sympathy for those that deal with cramping regularly. That has never happened to me before. After this event I started building my miles for the Vineman Ironman in July. This was my main focus for the year. As always Ironman training is time consuming and you put a lot into one race so it was upsetting to be struck by another cyclist during a training century ride just three-weeks before the event in a freak accident. Up to that point my injured knee was able to handle 18 miles without much pain which was great progress. Last year while training for the Maryland Ironman I was experiencing pain at mile 11, so I was running stronger this year. I was also riding and swimming strong in training so the hit to the knee left me not knowing how my knee would hold up in the race. Unfortunately the hilly cycling course proved too much for my knee and my ride and run was severely compromised foiling my attempts of qualifying for Kona but I didn’t let that bring me down. It was on my 44th birthday and I was please to finish my 2nd Ironman despite a slow performance. After some time off I was determined to get my knee stronger to tolerate more miles so I built my volume slowly and finished out the season with a 2nd place division win at the Soldier Marathon in November in Georgia to honor my Samantha and other loved ones (RaceForGrief.com). I am happy to report my knee held up really well and only started to bother me at mile 22, so that was more progress! I was also pleased to be able to mark-off three states towards my 50-states goal this year: Alabama, Georgia & Hawaii. Learn more: A Journey To Race in All 50-states
I am pleased to report that I will be recognized as an Ironman All-World Silver athlete (top 5% in my division in the world) during the 2016 season.
Over all it was a busy season with lots of training, travel and learning opportunities, in total I completed; two 100-mile century rides, two ½ marathons, three 70.3 Half Ironman events, one Ironman & one marathon this year. It was a full race schedule! As always I appreciate the opportunity to compete and do what I love. Thank you to my family, friends and sponsor support. I couldn’t do it without you! I am looking forward to a successful 2017 season.
Coach Lora Erickson
Need help with training? Contact Coach Lora directly at email@example.com
See more race results & learn more about Coach Lora Who is Blonde Runner?
Learn proper swim technique, developed cycling skills and run faster and more efficient. All aspects of triathlon training are covered including nutrition instruction. Beginners welcome. On-line and in-person triathlon coaching is available.
Coach Lora Erickson
aka Blonde Runner
“I have enjoyed working with you on my triathlon goals and races. I am highly satisfied with your coaching, I appreciate your efforts in my training and I want to continue to succeed with your help. Last year, you helped me break ALL of my PRs in running and this year (so far) you have helped me SET 3 new PRs (Full Marathon, Half Century and Duathlon)” – Angela M.
About the Coach:
Coach Lora Erickson aka Blonde Runner is a nationally ranked triathlete competing in all distancing of triathlon including Ironman. She is a USA Triathlon All-American. She is well-educated and holds many certifications including: NASM – Corrective Exercise Specialist, B.Sc. Degree from Utah State University in Health Education with duel minors in Nutrition and Chemistry, USATF certified coach, USA Triathlon Certified coach, US Masters Swim Level 1 & 2 Coach, & Slowtwitch Cycling Triathlon Coach. She welcomes beginners and loves to help people meet their health & fitness goals. Learn more
I was so thrilled to have Champion Systems make this new one-piece kit for me this year. I have a tri top and bottom, jacket, arm warmer etc…You name it, they’ve made it for me. I just love the quality of Champion Systems products and I especially love that it’s custom designed with my logo and sponsors. I have also had them make my TBR triathlon team kits! I am excited to continue working with then as a sponsored athlete in 2017. If you are looking for good quality custom designed race or team clothes you should check them out. They make more than just triathlon & running gear. Let me know if you need a contact name/info. Good stuff! Learn more about Champion Systems
Happy Training & Racing,
Coach Lora Erickson