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.
Local Race Discounts:
April Salt Lake Marathon- blonderunnerslc17 for 20% off any event. Get Registered: http://www.saltlakecitymarathon.com/
Utah Valley Marathon – br15 for 15% off any event. Get Registered: http://www.utahvalleymarathon.com/
Ok peeps. The Salt Lake races are just a few days away. I did the half last year and it was seriously one of the most organized races I’ve done with timing clocks on route, pacers and a great expo. It’s not too late to sign-up and they have other events besides the Full/half marathon available like the bike tour, 5K, skate etc. Check it out and use the code blonderunnerslc16 to save $5
Such a great event!
“Lora, thanks so much for the expert tips and advice with my swimming stroke analysis! This was exactly what I needed. Now to really incorporating all the great suggestions. You are awesome. I have nothing but great things to say about this analysis and your expertise!” ~ Jessica P.,R.D.
The kids team triathlon training program will begin the first week of April this year. This is a 5-week training program for the Splash ‘n Sprint triathlon March 9th. Children 8 and up are welcome to participate. The sign-up deadline is March 31st. To learn how to get your child registered message Coach Lora Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: You child will need to be able to swim all the way across the pool by themselves.
To learn more visit: Team Blonde Runner Youth Triathlon
Like us on Facebook: KidsTBRtriathlonteam
There are so many great marathons in Utah, it was really hard to narrow it down, but I’ve noticed there are some top features that really do set some races apart from others. The marathons that have been around for a while are usually the ones that have things in common that runners really like and keep them coming back year after year. Here are the top picks in chronological order among local Utahans.
Salt Lake Marathon in April
The Salt Lake Marathon has had its fair share of twists and turns over the years with course and management changes since its beginnings in 2004, but the race has attracted some of America’s top quality racers. “Since acquiring this race just before last year’s event, Life Time Fitness has received great feedback, especially in regards to the new marathon route,” says Jennifer Nelson, one of the race organizers. “Feedback has been that it is a beautiful, challenging course.” The course takes you through some of the most iconic parts of the city starting at the Olympic Legacy Bridge at the University of Utah, the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic Athlete Village, and past the towering Wasatch Mountains, through Memory Grove, Sugar House and Liberty Parks until it culminates at the finish line in the heart of downtown at Washington Square. Last year, nearly 7,000 participants toured this Boston Qualifier course. It is also certified by USA Track & Field (USATF) and sanctioned through the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and named a Utah State Half Marathon Championship race for the second year in a row. Divisions include open, masters and 18 age groups. They have also partnered with the Huntsman Hometown Heroes as the primary charity affiliate. They also offer a Full and Half Marathon,5K, Bike Tour (cyclists take to the closed marathon course before the runners do), Kid’s Marathon around the City Building (1K), and new this year, a 10K Skate. To learn more visit SaltLakeCityMarathon.com
Ogden Marathon in May
Locals know this race fills up fast, especially the half, so if you want to get in this event you better be ready when the registration opens. Not only is it well organized but it is a beautiful route (are you noticing a tread with good races and routes?). The Ogden Marathon was voted one of the “Top 10 Marathons in the World” by the Runner’s World Readers Poll in January 2010 and it is easy to see why. “Coined ‘Utah’s Spring Run Off’ the Zions Bank Ogden Marathon is one of the most scenic Boston Marathon Qualifiers in the country,” states race organizer Mike McBride. More recently, February 2015, Shape.com indicated that this event was the “5th Best Marathon in the Country for Beginning Marathon Runners.” So, if you are looking for a first time marathon, this is it. The course is slightly downhill with almost no uphill so it’s a perfect environment for new personal records. The Ogden Marathon is one of the most well supported races in Utah with over 1,800 volunteers on the course on race day! Participants rave about the well-executed planning and great communication this event provides. Over the 15 year history of the event; from the first event in 2001 with 650 participants, it has passed ownership to the GOAL Foundation. This year they will have a combination of over 10,000 runners made up of the full, half, relay, 5K and kids K events! Wow, I can see why they need all those volunteers! The GOAL Foundation really does aim to inspire others to “Get Out And Live!” To learn more visit OgdenMarathon.com
Utah Valley Marathon in June
If you are looking for a race with amazing scenery, you won’t want to miss the views of Deer Creek, the Provo River, Bridal Veil Falls and Provo Canyon that you can experience with the Utah Valley Marathon. It’s a beautiful course, with wonderful volunteer support! These are a few of the many reasons that this race was named the top 10 race in the country by Runner’s World Magazine. It is also a fast course. The Race Director, Hyrum Oaks says, “We commonly hear that people set their fastest times on our course, and the proof can be heard with our PR bell being constantly rung in our finish area after people set their personal best times.” They also give out Boston Qualifier shirts to runners that qualify on the course (how cool is that?). To top it off they will have Ryan Hall (the American record holder for the half marathon) coming to speak at the expo this year. It is no wonder that the race has grown from 240 participants in 2008 to over 7,000. This year they have also added a K9 Dash (5K) on Friday evening, the night before the main event. To learn more visit UtahValleyMarathon.com
Top of Utah Marathon in Sept
Living in Logan for some time as I attended Utah State University I can attest to the beauty of Cache Valley which is the location of the Top of Utah Marathon. The Marathon starts at Hardware Ranch, in the Wasatch Mountain just southeast of Logan and winds down the Blacksmith Fork Canyon’s gradual decline and then through small neighboring communities to the finish at Merlin Olsen Park in Logan. The course is a USAT&F-certified Boston Qualifier and has a net elevation drop of 1,045 feet and is getting great reviews. The race is organized well with great support and volunteers. To learn more visit TopOfUtahMarathon.com
St. George Marathon in October
Having been around for so long the St. George Marathon makes the list. This will be the 39th year of the event and holds a special meaning to me personally as it was the first marathon I ever ran back in 1996 where I qualified for the Boston Marathon. This race is especially known for being downhill and a beautiful course and I would echo many of the comments made by fellow racers; “Best organization in any marathon I’ve ran,” “Amazing supporters”, “ I love the way it is put together, the expo, the energy from the volunteers and the staff.” The event has reached such numbers that it now offers a lottery to get in. If you’re lucky enough to have your name drawn out you can experience this great course for yourself. All the amazing things I experienced many years ago are still in place, like the fires at the starting area, the great finish support and volunteer help as well as a great community feel. This race truly has a great hometown feel and there is a real sense of community when you are part of it. I don’t doubt it will be around for many more years to come. From its meager start in 1997 with 43 racers to it now nearly 7,700 that toed the line in 2014; It is no wonder they were voted the most organized marathon in the nation by Runner’s World Magazine in 2010. You simply can’t have an event continue for so long without being well organized. To learn more visit StGeorgeMarathon.com
Deseret News Classic Marathon – This event is well organized and is the oldest running marathon in Utah holding the first event in 1970. The prize money attracts some of the fastest runners in the country. If you are looking for good competition, this is a great event. DeseretNewsClassic.com
Big Cottonwood Marathon – So many people rave about this beautiful downhill route. If you are looking for some amazing scenery, you’ll want to check out this event. RunRevel.com
Moab Trail Marathon – We can’t leave out this Trail Marathon. If you tend to favor the trails over roads then be sure and check out the Moab Trail Marathon which captures the rugged natural beauty of Utah. They also offer a half marathon, fun obstacle 5K and kids K. MoabTrailMarathon.com
About the Author: Coach Lora Erickson aka “Blonde Runner” is a certified running and triathlon coach with over 30 years of athletic experience. She loves to work with all levels of athletes and trains people for all distances, in person as well as on-line. She also offers community health classes & corporate motivational lectures. To learn more visit BlondeRunner.com