Thursday, 6 January 2011

Training for a marathon in the winter

102 days until the Boston marathon.


I'm now in week 4 of my 18-week training program for the Boston marathon and, given that some of these weeks have included the holidays, things seem to be going well.

Last weekend my schedule called for my first 15-miler, and I achieved it - or something close - by adding extra miles to my Sunday morning run in the woods with my running friends. I felt good, and was tired at the end, but not exhausted. Altogether the run was about 2:40, but this included a lot of running through snow, stopping, and picking my way across ice patches.

The next day, Monday, I took my usual rest day. Tuesday I did 8 miles with a friend in a cold rain, and my legs were tired. Wednesday I did my town loop of 5.4 miles, and felt absolutely beat. There's still ice covering parts of the path where lots of people have walked and the snow has been compacted, so it requires a little care when trying to run it in the dark.

Tonight, Thursday night, I donned my winter running clothes while my children watched TV before supper. I wanted to get a short run in and be back to eat with them.

It was cold - -2C (28F) - and I wore two shirts, a reflective vest, two pairs of gloves, a hat, my running trousers, sox and shoes. I carried a small LED bike light.

I headed up the road and then up a bridle way nearby. On the bridle way I used my light to see the ground. It's a true bridle way - there's a farm with horses adjacent to it. Portions of this way had ice, but it was mostly clear. The ground was hard and frozen.

I turned off the bridle way onto an intersecting farm road. It was a clear winter's night, and the big dipper was visible to the north. There was just a sliver of a moon. My route had taken me up a hill, and the street lights from my town were visible below.

I headed to a bend in the road where there is a small cluster of houses and a farm. When I run past these I sometimes wonder what it must be like living out here, two miles or so from the village. Do the people who live out here feel isolated? More prosaically, as they are up on a hill, how is their water pressure?

I was warm, but had been out for 22 minutes, and so turned around and headed back. I arrived back at the house to find supper underway.


Last month, December, was the coldest month in Scotland for 63 years. The cold here is slightly different than what I've experienced in the midwest and northeastern U.S., in that there's a lot of humidity in the air. So, to me, the eqivalent temperature feels colder. Also, you get an accumulatation of frost on everything. This is particularly impressive when the trees are covered, as the one outside my office window was last month.

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