With spring marathons rapidly approaching, most runners have included a weekly long run into their training regimens.
When training for a fall marathon, the most pressing consideration is often late-summertime heat, so we find our shadiest spots under which we conduct our long runs.
Things are a little more difficult this year. Temperatures in many places averaging 20 degrees below normal, combined with above average snowfall amounts have created difficult conditions for turning in training runs of 15 miles or more for many runners around the United States..
Long runs are rarely fun, so we attempt to find scenic routes that, hopefully won't become too monotonous. Well, forget about that now. With marathon season nearing, the objective is to "get it in," no matter how it's done.
Some hearty souls, I'm not among them, have the ability to grind out 20-milers on the treadmill. It takes perseverance, copious amounts of water, and a playlist or movies that are lengthy and upbeat. Keep the treadmill on at least a 1% grade to simulate outside conditions. An upside, of course, is that wind will never be a factor.
Most trails are covered, so that means logging all of your miles on the roads.
Safety, safety, safety is paramount.
If you find a 4-5 mile route that has light vehicular traffic, run it 4 or 5 times in order to complete your proscribed distance.
Lean on friends and relatives to assist you in case you need to bail our. There's no problem running in single-digit temperatures, but there is a problem stopping. Frostbite or death could occur rather rapidly. Don't go it alone in the winter. Let someone know when and where you plan to run.
If you have an indoor facility nearby, utilize it. 8 to 10 laps a mile is not a lot of fun, but it IS better than running on the treadmill.
It is sometimes difficult to find training partners who share your pace on a long run, so you may need to coordinate with several runners who will agree to run segments of your training run with you. It can be tricky to mesh meeting times, but, hey, it's winter. What else is there to do?
Another option may be to find a race to use as a training run. Maybe there's a nearby half marathon that you could run, adding another near seven miles at the end to give you your 20-miles. Roads will be clear and traffic will be controlled, increasing your safety.
If you want to avoid the dreaded "wall" in your upcoming marathon, or if you don't want to run the last 10-miles of the race with the feeling of a piano or your back, a solid foundation of long runs is necessary.
To build that foundation in this 'year of the frozen tundra,' may require some creativity on your part.
For books, blogs, and personalized training programs, visit: www.muldowneyrunning.com