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Well this may not apply to all members, some of you may be looking out your window right now at a winter wonderland, even in Vancouver this week; cue the winter training tips. If you’ve been hit with Snowmaggedon, don’t be discouraged, many great long distances runners have trained through a great Canadian winter. How does the saying go….’what doesn’t break you, will make you stronger’. Well that’s true and good motivation to get you through the winter, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you bound through the snow without setback. 

  • Be safe – Injuring yourself by slipping and falling is a concern when running in snowy and icy conditions. Sometimes road are cleared better than sidewalks and pathways, and you’ll be relegated to running on the roads. Try to find quite roads to run on.  Be sure to run against traffic so you can see what’s coming at you. Snow banks can get very high after a few snow storms and drivers may not be able to see you crossing the road. Pay extra attention at intersections and when drivers are turning right.
  • Footwear modifications – there are several options out there for providing better grip while running on snow and ice. A good pair of trail shoes can go a long way on icy pavement. Another popular option east of the Rockies is to use Yaktrax. Another is to put good old fashion 3/8″ sheet metal screws in the bottom of an older pair of runners. This is only recommended if your entire running route is going to be on packed snow or ice.
  • Plan your route – there are several things to consider when planning your run that you don’t really have to think much about during other times of the year. Since you may be relegated to running on the roads, try to plan a route that is in a low traffic area, this is one instances in which living in the ‘burbs may be an advantage. You should also plan out an approximate time or distance for your route, nothing worse than running too long or far in the cold. You should also be conscious of the wind direction. Start your run into the wind and try to finish with it at your back. If you run with the wind at your back during the first part of your run you’ll get hot and sweaty and then when you run into the wind during the second part of your run you’ll get cold very quickly.
  • Dress Appropriately – Layering is very important in winter. We recommend a wind proof outer-layer, and insulated and wicking mid-layer that moves sweats away from the skin. Your body temperature increases with running so dress for conditions that are warmer than it is. You should feel chilled when you go out, but your body temperature will increase and you’ll warm up quickly. Also wear a reflective outer layer if you run at night.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust – It’s better to adjust your scheduled training for the day, by either cutting it short, finding an alternative, or pushing your workout off til a better day, when the snow is too deep or the roads too slippery. It’s better to alter the schedule a little bit in this way, than try to push through and potentially end up slipping and falling and tweaking a muscle that then hampers you for weeks or months afterwards.
  • Aches & Pains – Speaking of tweaking a muscle, you have to read your body really well when running on snow and ice. There’s a good chance that you’ll be a bit sore the day after running on snow, especially loose snow. Running on loose snow is similar to running on sand, it requires the use of many more stabilizing muscles than running on solid surfaces. So, if you’re sore the day after running on loose snow, it may not be reason for huge concern, as you’re waking up some stabilizers that have been dormant for a while. But, if you feel a particular muscle getting tighter and tighter during exercise, this may be more serious and cause for concern. So, tread carefully…
  • Hit the Treadmill – This is always an option that we don’t want to deter you from. Sometimes the elements just aren’t worth braving, and a run on the treadmill is a better option. We’ll have more tips for treadmill running in the coming weeks.
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For many of you that goal race for the season has come and gone, whether it was 1 mile or the marathon. So let’s talk off-season. You are now in that transition time between seasons and big blocks of training. I can remember that time well, the post-marathon blues were something I often experienced during this time. You’re out of routine, eating like crap, drinking more than usual and those spring races are way off in the future.
This is definitely the time to indulge. But don’t just sit on the couch, instead now is the time to try something new in training or in racing. Sign-up for that trail race you’ve always wanted to do or start that strength training routine you’ve neglected for so long. Mixing it up a little should help you to get rolling again this fall.
If you haven’t planned out your racing schedule for the spring, now is a good time to do that too. Sit down with your coach, talk about your goals and make a plan to achieve them. This has always been something that helped me kick start my training again after a little down time. Getting those goal races set in stone can help you visualize what the training will be like over the next few months.
All that said, it is important to respect your downtime. It’s as important to listen to your body now as it is when you are in the thick of training. If little niggles pop up, don’t try to run through them. Deal with them. After the 2012 Olympics I had some nagging pain in my hip and pelvis. It took several months of running through pain before I took the initiative to deal with the issue. It turned out to be a stress fracture. Ignoring it set me back in my training cycle and made me rush things. That set off a cycle of injuries for me. So please listen to your body and deal with any issues your experiencing now, during this transition time.

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  1. Be prepared for race morning: Leave nothing to chance. Know what you are going to eat, know how you are going to get to the race, know where you are gonna stash your gear. Arrive early, no need for added stress on race day, you are there to compete and perform. Unnecessary stress will affect your performance.
  2. Warm-up: For some this is a 20min run and active strides. For others this is a 5min walk and some stretches. Either way, get those muscles loose and ready to go, it’ll help avoid injury and have you primed to perform.
  3. Find your place: Get on the start line and line up with people whom are at your same level. A 45min 10km is a great accomplishment, but you probably shouldn’t be lining up at the very front- you will get pulled out too hard and you will impede faster runners. Also, if you wanna run 35min get yourself to the front- if not you are gonna spend too much energy passing people and you may be trampling over slower runners. Be smart here.
  4. Get off the line: The 1st km of this race is the fastest. You will feel fresh and there is a nice downhill. If you are several seconds faster than your goal pace do not worry, get the 1st km in and then settle into your race.
  5. Settle and Flow: From 2-6km you should relax and find your flow. If you are pushing too hard at 3km you are gonna be suffering hard by 8km. Have your goal pace in mind and focus on maintaining that effort and rhythm. Being 5seconds too slow is fine as you can make up time with a strong last 2km, but being 5seconds too fast can be disastrous as when you blow up you’ll be giving time back in chunks.
  6. Enjoy the Scenery: The Eastside 10km course takes you on a tour through one of Vancouver’s most beautiful and culturally rich neighbourhoods. Appreciate the city and take it in. We live in a really friggen cool city.
  7. Find a Group: There is power in numbers when it comes to racing. Working as group can help a lot. A group can pull you along, you can fight the wind together and you can thrive off the positive vibes that come from sharing a common goal. Find a friend and roll together.
  8. Focus: This is racing, it is supposed to hurt! Your legs will burn, you’ll fight for breath and you’ll wanna stop. You trained for this. Focus on your goals and stay positive. The pain of racing is brief, but giving up will sting for a whole lot longer.
  9. Bite your tongue and give’r: Ok, you got to 9km. Time to get going! This is where you put your head down and give it hell. Dig deep and push. Give it everything you have until you cross that finish line.
  10. Reap the spoils: Congrats on finishing the Eastside 10km! Now enjoy yourself a bit- go get brunch, drink a beer or just do something to spoil yourself. You have earned it!