Very well run…and now, all done! The weekend before last, between two very intimate gatherings (in Oakville & Toronto), almost 100 Marathon Dynamics runners, and a few coaches and “athletic supporters” gathered to celebrate and commemorate the summer/fall 2008 running season, and look forward to ‘09. A wonderful time was shared by all (especially a few at the Toronto bash still partying past 2am…yikes!)
From the over 150 of you we worked, ran and played with this season, the coaches had some tough calls to make to decide on the award winners…but alas, we did. Click here to see who came out on top, and who earned honorable mentions. We did our best to keep track of everyone’s results throughout the season, and have also come up with the TOP 100 Summer/Fall ’08 Marathon Dynamics runner performances. Click here to see if you made the list!
Please note: these are not necessarily the fastest runners, or even those with the highest age category placing, but are chosen based on how well they trained, improved and rose to the occasion on race day, relative to their season-starting ability, in light of the race day conditions and/or circumstances (also: unless you called/emailed us to let us know how your race went, we may have missed you, so be sure to do so in the future!)
We all know how important it is to tune up your car for the winter season, right? Or to winterize your home BEFORE the cold and snow arrive (e.g. put plastic on windows, seal any drafts, maintenance check the heater, etc.) So why not winterize your running?
Now that we are in between seasons (or most of you are!), it’s the perfect time to learn or remind ourselves of the critical behaviors and skills to keep ourselves happy, efficient, and motivated running machines throughout the long winter ahead. Based on the accumulated experience of over 100 winters our MDI coaching staff have now run through (between all of us…not by any one of us silly!), we’ve compiled a list of time-tested tips to help you be all the runner you can be this winter!
12 Terrific Tips to Make Winter Running a (Cold) Snap!
1. GET “GEAR READY”…BEFORE THE REALLY NASTY STUFF HITS! All to often, runners wait until the first big blast of frigid temps, or a big dump of snow, to go search for their thermal tights, base-layer tops, running gloves, mitts, headbands, wind-briefs, winter running socks, etc., and invariably can’t find stuff, or remember then that they were going to replace some of that stuff after last season, right? Sometimes that leads to skipped runs, and/or less enjoyable first winter run efforts. So consider your running goals for this winter spring, assess your anticipated gear requirements, and make a quick trip to the running store to fill in the gaps. Then create a space at home (closet, laundry room rack, box system?) where you have everything you need organized and at the ready. This way, no matter what the conditions are, when the mood/opportunity (or “responsibility”!) to run hits, you don’t have to forage through a mess of worn out/lost gear before you get out there!
2. PLAN YOUR RUN...RUN YOUR PLAN: If at all possible, attempt to run into the wind when you start, and with the wind as you finish. This stops sweat from freezing up on you and chilling you down as you progress into the later stages of your runs. This also prevents wind from adding to the challenge of cold condition running, by letting you “cruise” home with the wind at your back—especially helpful on longer or faster runs when your energy may be lagging late in the run. Also, try to run loop-shaped courses (with “cut short” options), as opposed to “out-and-back” routes. That way, if you ever have to stop mid-run (i.e. muscle pull, ankle sprain, stomach cramps, etc.), there’s less distance between you and home-safe-home!
3. BE BRIGHT—BE SEEN: It is especially important to be seen by drivers in the winter, due to the darker conditions, poorer visibility, and slippery roads. Make every effort to stand out by using reflective clothing, vests, or arm/leg bands, flashing lights and or headlamps, and never assume you have right-of-way in intersections, driveways, or parking lots.
4. TAKE “EXTREMITY” MEASURES: When running, your head, hands, and feet will feel the effects of very cold weather much sooner than the rest of you. Up to 40% of body heat is lost through the head, so cover it up with a breathable, synthetic running cap or headband. Also, ensure you wear a good pair of synthetic running gloves (or mittens if it’s really cold) which are relatively light weight and more breathable than “regular” gloves. With socks, and go with a little heavier weight than you do in the summer for some extra warmth, and make sure to get the “crew” cut, not the ankle/mini-crew, to ensure no skin is exposed directly to the elements if running tights/pants ride up.
5. BEWARE AND PREPARE: Bring cell phone, or coin(s) for telephone calls, money for cab fare, tokens for buses/subway, and I.D. for emergency information. The extra clothing you wear in the winter gives you extra places to carry these things, so there is no excuse not to bring them, especially during cold weather, when the likelihood of needing them, and the risks of not having them, are higher than ever. It’s also a good idea to inform another person of your route and expected run length as you head out, so that he/she knows when to push the panic button, and where to start looking for you!
6. DON’T BE SLIP SLIDING AWAY: Many runners worry too much about icy conditions. Obviously, if the roads and sidewalks are completely covered in sheets of ice, it’s best to retire to the gym’s treadmill, or put your run off till the next day. But most of the winter we are faced only with icy patches and sections of rough footing. For ice patches less than 10 metres in length, the best thing to do when you run across them is...nothing...at least, nothing different. Keep your direction, speed, cadence, and stride length exactly the same as just before you hit the icy section, and you can cruise right across it on your momentum. It’s only when you suddenly change your speed, rhythm or direction that you end up with a bruised torso. With rough footing (snow, slush, uneven surfaces), its best to slightly shorten your stride for balance early, hold your arms out from your sides (hands splayed at the ready) and attempt directional and speed changes gradually and cautiously.
7. RUN SOCIAL, RUN SAFE: Running with others is still the best way to ensure your safety and enjoyment of winter runs, especially--but not exclusively--for women. Also, when the conditions are absolutely fierce, it’s just nice to know that someone else went through what you did! Make an effort to join up with training group or running club (like Marathon Dynamics…hint, hint!) …you just may find that it’s not only safer, but more fun too!
8. USE INTENSITY AS YOUR GUIDE, NOT SPEED: When the footing gets poor due to snow and ice cover, runners lose up to 1 minute per mile (40 seconds/km) of “ground speed” at a given effort level, regardless of their normal running speed. Faster runners transfer more power/force through each foot plant, so they slip more on each stride, losing more speed than slower runners, who lose less of their speed proportionately, but about the same “seconds per mile” speed loss. Thus, it makes little sense to attempt to maintain the same running pace as you would on clear ground. So either use your well-honed sense of intensity to moderate your pace, or invest in a heart rate monitor, which will do it for you! As well, in complete or nearly complete snow coverage conditions, make sure, especially on longer runs (over 10 miles/15km) that you shorten the actual distance you plan to run, since otherwise you’ll end up running much further/longer that you or your training plan called for (i.e. on a 16 mile run you could end up running 16 minutes longer than you would have on a clear footing day…that’s like adding 1.5 to 2 miles more to your run than you’d planned…and in awful conditions to boot!)
9. HAVE A PLAN B! It’s very unrealistic to presume we won’t get hit by some rough weather stretches over the course of a 4-5 month winter, so no matter how “hardy” you are, and/or how much you pride yourself on being able to run through “anything”, it just makes sense to build in some options and flexibility to your winter running plan. If you don’t own or are not willing/able to buy a treadmill (and at $3000+ and up for a good one, few are!), get a membership to a fitness club that has a good supply of high quality, well maintained treadmills, ready and waiting. Even if you’re not an active aerobic trainer, or don’t regularly do strength training as part of your overall fitness regime (which are two more great reasons to invest in fitness club membership), inquire about a “3 month trial membership” for the roughest winter months (ie. January to March). This way, you’ll have the option of switching over to a treadmill for key intensity workouts, steady state runs, or even (once in a blue moon, for sanity’s sake!) the odd long run, when the weather outside is too dangerous or depressing.
10. WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE: During the winter, many runners forego the rehydration rituals they employ so diligently when summer running...don’t make that mistake! You’re often still sweating as much as in the summer for a variety of reasons (hard effort, one too many layers), so maintain your regular drinking frequency...especially on long runs. Extra tip…on very cold days, make sure you fill your bottle with room temperature water (or even lukewarm), since cold water will often freeze the spout and/or cap of your waterbottles within 30-60 minutes. Also…drink early and drink often…not just because your body needs it, but because the more you use your bottle, the less chance there is of it freezing shut! Similarly, with gels, don’t pull them out of the fridge before you go, leave them out overnight at room temp, so they don’t start to thicken up in the cold.
11. THE GREAT COVER-UP: In very cold conditions, make sure to cover exposed skin (cheeks, forehead, chin, around eyes, etc...) with petroleum jelly, and/or wear a balaclava--just remember to remove it before stopping at any gas stations or convenience stores! (Trust me on that…funny thing happened one late night run I did years ago...but that’s another story)
12. "LESS IS MORE”: The great majority of runners, even experienced, technically savvy, post-synthetic revolution runners, tend to wear too much clothing (and/or too many layers) through the winter months. We must learn to gradually test the limits of these space-age super-fabrics that we spend a good deal of money on, and trust that they will do what they purport to do—thermally regulate our body temperature by transferring moisture away from our skin…cause guess what? They do! The more you try this, the more comfortable you’ll be, the less money you’ll spend on apparel, and the less wash you’ll do after every run!
...Walk 'em off!
In one of our e-newsletters last year, we highlighted an increase in “ankle lever” running injuries of late--basically, pain involving anything from the plantar fascia, to heel, to Achilles tendon, to calf muscles (soleus and gastroc). We also prescribed some helpful fixes and healthy habits to prevent or minimize problems in that area.
However, more than a year later, we’re finding we’ve got to step it up in the war against “ALI” (ankle lever issues), because the incidence and severity of running injuries specific to this area is NOT decreasing (far from it). Two cases in point are the awful times that two MDI coaches have had in 2008: Jennifer Faraone with a chronic Achilles problem, and myself with a “worst in 25+yrs of running” calf pull.
So, I spent a great deal of time thinking about and researching this problem…since both from a personal (i.e. my own running) and professional (ie. everyone else’s running) standpoint, it seemed very important to come up with a solution.
Well, a few months, and 3 “watershed instances” later…I think I’ve got it!
1 - “ALWAYS ON THE RUN” – last year, I came across the website of a runner/coach in the states (a sub 2:30 marathoner, so no slouch!), who strongly believed in what he called an “always on the run” philosophy. He felt that any aspiring runner required to sit still for many hours a day (i.e. desk work), should make an effort, at least every 3 hours, to get up and go run a little (i.e. 1 mile) in addition to regular training, to condition the body to movement. Hmmm #1…
2 - “100 YEAR OLD WISDOM” – next, I happened to be perusing a book that an MDI runner gave me as a gift after we coached her to Boston last year (Bridget, if you’re reading this, thank you!) called “Training for Athletics and General Health”, by Harry Andrews. It was written in 1903, and is basically a compendium of Mr. Andrew’s beliefs on how to train distance runners in his day. Now, you’d expect his book to be riddled with inaccuracy and faults given the ensuing 100 years of advances in athletics and sport science since he wrote it, wouldn’t you? However, though certainly there were a few elements that were nothing if not amusing (with a century of hindsight to draw on!), what was most amazing to me was how dead on the great majority of what he had to say still was! And most interesting, was that while the best runners of that era were being coached to RUN just 3 or 4 workouts per week, they were required to WALK anywhere from 5, to 15, or even 20 MILES PER DAY in addition to their running! Here’s a quote:
“it is in keeping with the rest of the beneficent provisions of Providence, that the very best exercise is walking, which we must all of us perforce indulge in to a greater or less extent from the time after our entry into this world when first our legs are strong enough to carry us….softly, easily, unconsciously, but surely, walking gets at every muscle in the body…no undue strain is cast upon the functions of any particular part, but all are affected for good”
3 - “A BUDDY OF MINE TOLD ME”…– finally, a long time running friend of mine, who was a national level and world ranked road racer “back in the day”, had gotten out of running for almost 10 years, but then upon becoming a master (40+) got back into it when his competitive juices started to flow again. Within about a year of training, he placed 2nd at the Canadian Masters Cross-Country championships and ran a 1:14 Half Marathon, and then…got injured. Badly injured. Despite throwing many thousands of dollars at sports med/treatment at his achilles tendon injury over 4-5 months, he couldn’t get healthy again. So you know what he did? He started walking to work (High Park to downtown office, at least one way, every day). And a month or two later, you know what happened? He was able to run again.
As all the above percolated through the coffee maker of my mind, I arrived at the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, the reason that my calves and achilles had slowly become my biggest injury nemesis over the last 10-12 years, was because my lifestyle OUTSIDE of running (or even aerobic x-training) had become increasingly sedentary. Pathetically, one of my daily rituals had become a morning drive to/from Tim Horton’s for a coffee & bagel (just 1 mile away…ugh!), and most of my work day now, unlike 10-15 years ago, involved sitting a desk. And oh yes, let’s not forget that my carcass is now 10-15 years older than it used to be.
The ankle lever is the conduit for all the combined force that your mind, heart, lungs, upper body, and big leg muscles (quads and hams) can muster, as it passes on through your feet and into the ground, to produce thrust to move you forward. And if you’re generally using your legs less and less in daily life, then the differential from “0” (sitting still for long periods) to “60” (training as hard as you always used to, or want to in the future) is very likely too big a jump, so “something’s gotta give!” (thanks Jack Nicholson!). It appears that for myself, and for many of you “non-spring chicken, day time desk jockey” runners, what “gives” is a link in the ankle lever chain.
So early in August this summer, I started walking…almost every day, at least to Tim Horton’s and back (2 miles), often a little further. And almost immediately, guess what I was able to do that I hadn’t been able to for 4+ months prior? Yup…RUN!
Now, I wish I could say that since being struck by this “pedestr-iphany” everything has come up roses and that I’m running fit as ever, that I’m a walking zealot, never missing a days “constitutional”, and that I was smart and cautious enough as I started back into running not too push too hard, too soon, and exacerbate my sore calf (and/or other borderline injuries).
Unfortunately, though it would make for a truly great newsletter item, such is not the case. I have been too aggressive starting back, I have experienced minor injury “hiccups” along the way, and I do not—yet—walk EVERY day of the week (4 or 5 is my current average).
However, despite those “water-muddying” circumstances, I am now firmly convinced that regular daily walking can injury-proof runners…especially those who a) are sedentary for much of their day, b) have a past history ankle lever injury, and c) are talented and/or experienced enough to run fast (when fit and healthy)—thereby widening the chasm between rest and average running speed”, and increasing the bottleneck of stress and strain on the ankle lever.
Perhaps in the coming months and or years, many more of you runners will be out on brisk morning, afternoon or evening walks, chanting my new favourite mantra as you go:
“2 miles a day keeps the sports doctor at bay!”
New Season, New Coaching Groups, New Approaches...
As you decide on your running goals for 2009, whether you’ve run with Marathon Dynamics before or not, we hope you’ll consider what we have to offer.
If you’re new to Marathon Dynamics running services, we feel that on every front—from our staff, to our systems, to our services—we can provide the best training plans & personal running coaching, and deliver the best results, for the best price. To find out more about our how our Customized Training Plans work, please click here, and if you’d like more information on our Personal Coaching Services, please click here, and to find out more about who our coaches themselves are, please click here.
If you’re a “Repeat MDI Runner” (i.e. training plan and/or coaching in the last year) then you can receive a 10%-37% discount on your CTP development this season (depending on your recent and current MDI services)
So without further ado, here are the Winter/Spring ’09 Marathon Dynamics' Coaching Groups (our Coaching Services info is now also updated on our website too).
All sessions @ 6:30-8pm , Dec ’08 - May ‘09 (unless otherwise noted):
1. MONDAY — Downtown Toronto: Quail & Firken (Yonge/Bloor) - starts Jan. 5th
2. TUESDAY — York University: Indoor Track - starts Dec. 2nd
3. WEDNESDAY — High Park: Grenadier Restaurant - starts Dec. 3rd
4. THURSDAY (9:30AM–NEW!) — Midtown TO "Women Only": Sunnybrook Park - starts Jan 8th
5. THURSDAY — Midtown TO: Sunnybrook Park/Leaside HS - starts Jan 8th
6. THURSDAY — Oakville: Revolution Health & Fitness - starts Jan 8th
7. FRIDAY (6AM!–NEW!) — Mississauga: Rivergrove Comm. Ctr - starts Jan 9th
We will be hosting “Early Bird Meet, Greet & Hit the Street” Coaching sessions for the Midtown Toronto (PM) & Oakville Groups on Thursday, December 4th and December 11th in order to do initial speed assessments and get those who would like to rolling before the holidays (i.e.. those with early Half, ATB 30K and Marathon race dates to train for, and/or those with “big dreams” who want to get solid momentum going before holiday lethargy sets in). Those groups will then go on a 3 week hiatus over the “thick” of the holidays, and start up with a vengeance the first week of the new year.
If you'd like to secure your spot in one of these groups, do so ASAP. Here’s how:
1) Go to our website and carefully complete (if you are new to MDI) or update (if completed last season/year) your ONLINE PROFILE (see “Ready to get started?” halfway down homepage).
2) Then go to Coaching Registration (drop down off homepage menu) and complete your registration/invoice to claim your spot in the appropriate group.
Or, if you would like to “tawk shop” about your training, and/or have further questions about our services, please give a shout (best time to reach us is 10am-4pm weekdays, or just drop us an email)
New Stuff: aside from the services many of you have come to know & expect from Marathon Dynamics Coaching (workout prep/summaries, analysis, feedback, Mix 'n Match, Supporting Cast referral, Silver/Gold Level Coaching, E-Coaching, Race Day Coaching, E-bulletins, etc.), we’re shaking things up in two new ways this season, for the better, we hope you’ll agree:
1) Runner’s World Online Training Log – we’re still working on our own version which brings together the MDI training plan system with an online log, but that’s still months away from completion, so in the meantime, we are asking EVERY RUNNER we work with (whether “just” with through Training Plan, or especially if also through Coaching), to begin using the online training log found at Runner’s World (unless already using a similarly functioning online training log). We’ve been using it ourselves for the past few months, and find it to be an excellent tool for recording, tracking, analyzing our training. Most importantly, it provides a quick and easy common interface for training information between coach and runner, without the need for emailing files or faxing pages, and is a HUGE improvement for those who have to date attempted to use the admittedly clumsy Excel training log portion of our training plans. So for anyone planning on running with Marathon Dynamics in the coming year, please start logging your training (running, aerobic cross training, strength training, shoe use, conditions, etc.) NOW (i.e. December 1st onward) on the RW Online Training Log. Go to www.runnersworld.com and click on the “Training Log” header at the top to get started…it’s really easy!
2) Race Pace Run (RPR) Update – the landscape of the running scene has changed markedly since back in the late 90s, when we first began hosting RPRs in conjunction with our clinics and coaching groups. The advent and refinement of personal GPS and footpod distance/speed measuring devices, and internet resources such as www.gmap-pedometer.com, and its more running-centric successor “Map My Run” www.mapmyrun.com have largely addressed one of the primary reasons we started RPRs, the establishment of accurate distance/speed/pacing guideposts for runners. Furthermore, the growth of “mid season” races (such as Chilly Half, Around The Bay, Nissan 10 Miler, Midsummer Night, etc.) has rendered the RPR format largely redundant (albeit at a much more expensive price tag!), and made restructuring training plans, and finding dates to draw most runners together for RPRs, increasingly difficult. As such, after hosting approximately 80 RPRs in the last 9 or 10 years, we’re retiring the venerable “workout workhorse”, and replacing it with what we hope will be a much more flexible, convenient (and free!) alternative. From now on, Marathon Dynamics runners are encouraged to use our High Park Sunday Morning High Park Run Group (see info above) to do their RPRs, even if you don’t do your regular weekend LSD runs with us. This way you can run mapped & measured routes (using the maps provided online), and benefit from the social motivation of running with an appropriately paced group.
Reading & Watching Running (in case you’re not sick of running by the end of this newsletter…lol):
On our “Books to Read” list:
“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” – Haruki Murakami – philosophical musings on running with a practical bent
“Wired To Run” – Scoop Skupien – a racy, wild and hilarious take on what it means to be a runner
On our “Movies to Watch” list:
“Run Fat Boy Run” – romantic comedy about a man determined to run a marathon to prove his worth to the woman he loves
“Saint Ralph” – (hard to find, but a true classic!) comedic drama of a boy who believes his running and winning the Boston marathon is the miracle that will save his dying mother
Well…that’s certainly a year’s worth of running e-news crammed into one newsletter wouldn’t you say! We hope you found some useful info in there you can use to make your running better, stronger, and most important, more enjoyable in 2009! In case we don’t see you until the New Year, have a super and stress-free (yeah right!) holiday season with your friends, your family, and of course...your running shoes!
Your Faithful Marathon Dynamics Coaches,
Kevin, Jennifer, Jackie, John, Robin , Todd and Steve!
BE YOUR OWN TROPHY...or give one as a gift!
WINTERPROOF YOUR RUNNING: 12 Terrific Tips
WATCH & LEARN FROM THE BEST: Haile & Irina take Berlin
FREQUENT CALF, ANKLE, FOOT INJURIES? Walk 'Em Off!
ONE RUNNER'S STORY: From A(nnie) to Z(urakowsky)
MDI HIGH PARK SUNDAY RUN GROUP: Free To Join!
MARATHON DYNAMICS NEWS: Winter '09 Coaching Groups & More