Tag Archives: running in the winter

Two 20 mile runs two days in a row

Screenshot from 2014-01-11 21:44:41This is the first time I’ve ever done this, running 20 miles two days in a row. I usually do one 20 mile run per week, occasionally two. However, due to the extreme cold and icy conditions earlier this week I did little running then, so I thought I’d make up for it on friday and saturday when the temperature went up.

The 20.61 mile run on friday was my first ever run to the state of Connecticut. It felt thrilling crossing the New York/Connecticut border, though I realize it is just an arbitrarily drawn political border that means practically nothing of geographic or cultural significance, but it was still fun. Sure, I realize it also represents a border between New York and New England, but there are many towns in New York that have a New Englandish feel to them.

It was snowing for about the first 1/3 of the run, then it rained a little during the rest of the run. It felt great “introducing”(though I am not the first) joggling to the people of Connecticut. The people who saw me were amused and impressed, especially the kids.

It took me 4:18 to complete the run to Stamford, Connecticut, due in part to the wintry conditions though it was almost 40 F. There was so much slush and big ice patches in some spots. I also had a backpack full of juice, and a bunch of energy bars on me. I slipped and dropped the balls a few times.

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The Putnam Cottage

I ran mostly along route 1, also called the Boston Post Road, which is the most direct way of getting to Connecticut. There’s lots of interesting historical sites on route 1, both in New York and in Connecticut. One of the more interesting ones is the Putnam Cottage, in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is named after Israel Putnam, the American revolutionary war general, who made his daring escape from the British close to the cottage. General George Washington also stopped here with his troops in 1776, when it was used as a tavern. Going east from Greenwich, you will enter the city of Stamford, which is where I ended my run and took the train back home. These days the city of Stamford appears to be booming, with so many new businesses sprouting up all over the place.

The run the next day(saturday) was a 21.28 mile run on the Putnam* trail to Elmsford/Little Iran and back, a route that I’ve done countless times. The temperature was in the mid 50s during this 3:19 minute run, though there were occasional ice patches and big puddles on the running path. There was a light rain during most of the run. I was able to run almost like it was spring because of the unseasonably high temperatures and because most of the ice and snow from last weeks storms have melted. I feel a little sore due to the 2 long runs 2 days in a row, but I believe I will recover relatively quickly. I think even my ability to recover has improved.

I saw many red cardinals while running up to Elmsford, it’s always a joy to spot them and hear their birdsong. How are you keeping fit this winter? I hope you’re all doing fantastic and are as fit as ever!

A word of warning: Do not try running two very long runs 2 days in a row unless you’ve done enough training. This can greatly increase your risk of injury. If you want to be able to do this, build up to it slowly, start out with one 20+ mile run once a week, then add a second 20+ mile run many days after, then slowly bring them closer together.

* Named after the same Putnam mentioned before but it is called “Putnam” because this used to be a railroad route that connected New York City with Putnam county in upstate New York.

Yaktrax Walker Traction Device

IMG_2269Winter is finally here!

One of the biggest challenges facing distance runners during the winter is all the snow and ice on their running routes. In some areas it can be so bad that they have no choice but to run on a treadmill, which is what I did just a few days ago. Although I got my “miles” in, it’s really not the same thing as a long run in the outdoors, at least to me. I need to actually go somewhere, I need the fresh air, I need the outdoors, I need the wise guys saying “you can only juggle 3?!”. On the treadmill I felt like the human version of a hamster running on a hamster wheel.

So I decided I had to do something to improve my traction when running on snow and ice. I picked up a pair of the Yaktrax Walker Traction Device at the local sporting good store for $20(for 1 pair), which makes them one of the cheapest traction enhancers. Instead of spikes like other traction enhancers, it uses rings of metal(abrasion resistant 1.2 mm steel coils) around rubber to help improve your traction as you walk or run on snow and ice.

IMG_2271It’s very easy to put them on your sneakers. Simply hook the front section of the traction device to the front of your shoe, then stretch it out toward the back to fasten it. It comes in many sizes, XS, S, M, and L, so if you’re looking to buy one make sure you get the right size. Since my sneakers are 8.5, I got a S.

I’ve used them a few times and I immediately noticed an improvement. I am running faster over snow and ice without slipping, even in areas where I would usually slip or slide. I nearly fell in the river last time due to the ice on this hilly stretch of my usual route, but it was like the ice wasn’t there this time, thanks to the Yaktrax.

They feel a bit awkward at first, but I quickly got used to them. They are very easy to remove. Sometimes I fear they may slip off if I run in them enough, but nothing like this has happened so far. I hope they last until the end of the winter, if not into next winter. I’ll keep everyone posted on how long they last.

With the right attitude and the right equipment, outdoor distance running is possible is virtually any condition.

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Joggling through the snow and the mind

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Snow is endlessly tricky for joggling. Every few feet its texture changes. It occasionally conceals ice or puddles underneath. How many times my feet have gotten wet and cold as a result!

How the snow cloaks the earth, how it masterfully conceals. You try to master it, yet in the end it always wins, balls get dropped, feet get wet, or a body part is injured. As tricky as a snowy forest is, it still pales in comparison to the cloaks all humans wear. As tricky as joggling in the snow is, figuring out humans is far more challenging. Snowy terrain is easy. Navigating the icy terrain of the human mind is something else entirely.

What is real and what is illusion? Our senses aren’t always reliable. We are so easy to fool, and we fool ourselves better than anyone else can. Who can we trust, when we sometimes can’t even trust ourselves?

Wait, so that is a small tree ahead and not a person? I thought that was a shrub in the distance, and not a dog. How was I to know this snow concealed a small pond? If only it were always so easy.

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