Friday, January 29, 2010

Running in Cold Weather

If you're in Northeastern US right now, you're doing your best to stay warm. Last night I drove up to Killington to check on our house there, and the weather forecast for today was for high temps about -5! And windy!

So how do conditions like this impact your training? I've heard from countless people how running outside in temperatures cooler than 20 degrees can freeze your lungs! Well, that's just not so. The body has an incredible ability to warm the air before it gets to your lungs. While you do have to be prepared for cold conditions, there's no compelling reason why you're limited to the treadmill.

First thing, dress in layers. A good tech fabric shirt as the first layer will wick moisture from the skin. A mid layer to trap warm air is critical to being comfortable. Then, your outer layer should be a wind proof fabric. Wear two layers on your legs. A pair of tights against your skin will help manage moisture and a pair of wind proof pants will keep you legs warm. One pair of fairly heavy socks should be fine on your feet. The most crucial items of clothing will be gloves and a warm hat (like an old wool ski hat). If you can keep body heat from escaping through your head and extremities, you'll be surprised at how warm you'll stay.

Once you have your clothes laid, do a warm up routine before getting fully dressed. A very important element to running injury-free in cold weather is to keep your leg muscles warm. Starting out with increased circulations which results from a warm up routine will get you ahead of the curve. Cold muscles are much more likely to cramp or knot than muscles that are warm and supple.

Running is a huge limiter for me, but when I'm coaching on the mountain at Killington, I almost always run home from the locker room at the end of the day. And those runs where I'm generating a great head of steam on a very cold day are some of my favorite experiences. Enjoy the outdoors!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Training Off to a Good Start

Well, with a repair to my rotator cuff out of the way, I'm starting to get into a good rhythm of training. The shoulder work was mostly cleaning out scar tissue and bone spurs, as well as doing a decompression (removal of some bone to make some room for the muscles in the rotator cuff). The tendon was mostly intact, so no long term recovery is needed.

So, I'm thinking about my goals for this coming race season and wanting to get faster on the bike. My game plan is to build a huge aerobic base through January and February, but not ignore some work I need to do to increase my speed. Working primarily with power this year, I'm monitoring my wattage output, having measured my Functional Threshold Power (FTP). My endurance rides are primarily about 70-75% of FTP and my shorter rides during the week include some intervals at FTP (e.g. 20 min warm up in power zones 1 & 2/ 2 x 10 min. at FTP or slightly higher w/ 5min recovery, and 15 minute spinning cool down at about 75% of FTP).

If I were not using power, I'd likely be doing similar kinds of work using Heart Rate, so the intervals would be at Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR). You can substitute your HR zones and do the same workout.

I recommend the inclusion of intervals to those athletes who have some depth of experience with training. For those doing their first full or half iron distance event, I'd focus more on the lower heart rate work to build that base with perhaps some shorter intervals after the first four weeks of strictly endurance (zones 1-3) work.

My key "A" races this year: IM USA, Lake Placid and Age Group National Championship. About 6 other "B" and "C" races on the calendar starting at Columbia this May.