Thursday, December 24, 2009

New Balance To Plow Snow Along Charles River

This winter Boston runners can thank New Balance for keeping at least some sidewalks snow-free. The company will pay for snow removal along the Charles River, providing runners with a Boston Marathon training route:
New Balance has announced a sponsorship agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) that will ensure area runners, joggers and walkers have clear running paths along the Charles River during the 2009-2010 winter season.

The partnership is designed to allow those seeking to get into shape, train for the Boston Marathon, or take a leisurely winter stroll, the option of doing so outside.

Under the agreement, New Balance, which is based in Boston, has pledged to provide funding to support snow removal efforts along the 17-plus mile Charles River path spanning from the Museum of Science area in Cambridge to the Galen Street Bridge in Watertown.

The snow removal will be performed by DCR within 24 hours of the completion of a storm. Because the route runs in close proximity to the river bank, there is limited salting and sanding that can be performed, so the DCR and New Balance urge runners to continue to use caution.
Thank you New Balance!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking Forward to 2010

We already have a lot to be excited about for running in 2010. First up is the Boston Marathon, the premier marathon (sorry, New York). The 2010 marathon is going to feature last year's third place finisher, Ryan Hall, and the 2009 NYC Marathon winner, Meb Keflezighi. Ryan and Meb will try and become the first American winner since 1983, while competing against the deep Kenyan and Ethiopian fields.

2010 will also mark the first half marathon for Boston native Shalane Flanagan. She will compete in the Aramco Houston Half Marathon on January 17th. Based on the timing of this race, don't be surprised if she decided to join the New York City or Chicago Marathon in 2010, with an eye on Boston in 2011.

Run at your own pace

There are three types of runners: Those who run at a consistent pace through their entire run or race, those who begin slow and have a kick at the end, and those who start out fast and fade. No matter which type of runner you are, it’s very important to run at your own pace.

This is not about racing (which is an entirely separate topic), but about training runs. During a training run there will always be runners that pass you. It’s inevitable. Sometimes you will be in the beginning of a very long run, other times you’ll be finishing up on an easy day. One day it will be when you feel great, another day it will be when you’d rather be on the couch. Running is unique in that way – while everyone is doing the same activity, there are so many variables that separate us.

That is why it is so important to run at your own pace. Getting caught up in racing others around you will not help your training, and most importantly, will really bother other runners. Just ask Jay Jackson.

Jay was running along the Charles River in Cambridge, MA one day, which is always filled with runners. He was about 10 miles through a 12 mile run when a runner he was about to pass decided it was time for a competition. Every time Jay tried to pass the runner he would speed up, playing a game of yo-yo for half a mile. Once Jay finally passed the runner for good, he looked back to give him a “see ya!” smile, and finished the last 1.5 miles of his run.

This is just one example of the annoying games that can occur on a run. The runner that decided to race jay probably didn’t know he was on a 12 mile run, but that’s part of the job when you’re a runner – understand that everyone trains differently: different paces, different distances, even different levels of fitness. Racing someone that is trying to pass you will only create enemies. And if you really do want to run with someone, just ask if you can tag along.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Running workouts for the winter

The darkness and chill of the winter months present some difficult times for runners. Many people move inside to treadmills to get their workouts in, while others buy yellow vests and battle the outdoor conditions. While this can be a trying time – both physically and mentally – changing up your running routine can help you make it through the winter and be better prepared for spring races, such as the Boston Marathon.

Many runners, especially those that run to stay in shape, only go on distance runs. However, in the winter not all streets are lit and it’s really not safe to run where there aren’t sidewalks. Adding in a variety of workouts will provide more flexibility to stay off these dangerous streets. Below is a list of three workouts that can help you make it through winter running:

1. Track workout: Find the closest high school or college track where you can either go for a run or do some mile or half mile repeats. Often times these tracks are lit (because there is a football field in the middle) and are cleaned off (because the teams need to practice there). By the time you’re out of work the team practice should be over, leaving you with a safe spot to go for a run.

2. Hill workout: Find a hill on your way home or close by that you’re able to run up safely – often times this may be in a neighborhood. Instead of taking a distance run, use that day to work on your strength by doing 5-10 sprints up the hill. This workout will be shorter but will really make a difference in your training, and you’ll be tired by the time you get home!

3. Tempo run: Find a safe and lit loop to that’s about a half mile long, preferably in or near your neighborhood. Run repeats of this loop, alternating between a jog and a fast run. These intervals will give you a good workout and keep you off the main roads. It will also increase your speed to help with those 5K races in the spring!

Five reasons to run in the snow

Now that the first snowstorm has hit the Boston area, runners are faced with the annual decision: run through the nasty weather or take shelter on a treadmill. Even though this weather can make running outside difficult, here are five reasons why you should brace the snow and run through our winter wonderland:

1. Outdoor running will prepare you better for your spring race. Running on the treadmill only requires you to run up, not forward. Therefore, when you hit the roads you won’t have as much strength to push yourself forward and your stride will feel off.

2. Spring weather is completely unpredictable - it could be a cold rainy day, or 80 degrees and sunny. Therefore, if you’re running a spring race it’s important to be able to adjust to any conditions. The snow will help you be prepared for any weather.

3. You’ll have the opportunity to run somewhere new. Chances are that your normal running loops aren’t the best places to run in the snow. This gives you a chance to find some new places to run, which provides a good change of pace. Once place that has clear paths is the Charles River – which gets plowed well – and most sidewalks in the city are usually shoveled well.

4. You’ll be one of the few. On a nice day everyone is outside working out. However, not many people are brave enough to get out on the nasty days. Running outside after a snowstorm earns some serious bragging rights, and don’t be afraid to let everyone know! Even better, put a picture on your Facebook page so everyone can see you in action!

5. Its fun! While it may be really cold at first, running in the snow can be a lot of fun if you bring the right mindset and find a good route. If you are determined to enjoy it, you will.

Running clothing for winter running

Anyone running around Boston last weekend experienced the bitter coldness that is here to stay with us for the next few months. While it can be difficult to get out of the house and go for a run when the temperature is below freezing, getting some new running clothing can help keep you warm during the next few months – and who doesn’t like new running gear!

Before heading out to the store, it is important to try and figure out which items of clothing you need, otherwise you may end up buying a lot more then you need. This checklist should include pants, shirts, a jackets, hat or headband and gloves. Once you figure out what items you need off this list, it’s time to head to the store. Two great places for running shopping are Marathon Sports and the Greater Boston Running Company. Both stores are dedicated to running and you can get 15 percent off coupons if you subscribe to their newsletters.

Once you arrive at the store begin checking out all of their items. Feel all of the fabric to see what thickness and warmth you want, and pay careful attention to details like zippers and pickets (you may want them for keys, gloves or even winter running items like lip balm). You will also want to make sure that the clothing it fairly tight to your body so that it will protect you from the wind.

When looking at jackets try and find one that will provide you with two necessities: protection from the weather and reflection. Jackets with reflective silver patches will allow cars to see you as they drive by, which is really important for winter running. A jacket will also fit you more comfortable then a reflective vest, and provide that extra protection from the elements.

When looking for hats and gloves, make sure you try out a lot of different products. It is important to find something that is warm enough, but you also don’t want to overheat.

Are there any other must-have items that you need for winter running?

3 Boston Marathon training tips

Boston runners have a unique quality that defines us, separating us from every other group of runners in the country: the Boston Marathon. As the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the country, runners must spend a lot of time training to qualify for the race, or try and get a highly sought after number by running with a charity. Even though people travel from all over the world to run the Boston Marathon, many local runners participate in the event, which is what makes us so unique.

Since the Boston Marathon takes place in April every year, it means that we must train through the harsh New England winter. This can be a very difficult task for many people due to the darkness, cold, snow and ice. Here are three ways to make the most out of your winter training:

1. Mix up your training:
Instead of relying on distance runs for your training, try doing hill workouts, track workouts and tempo runs. This will allow you to get off the main streets and run for a shorter time period, while getting in quality training. These challenging workouts will also help keep you warm, and the hill workouts will have you ready for heartbreak hill.

2. Take it inside: Some runners just don’t like winter running and prefer to be on a treadmill. If that’s the case, make it interesting. During your run change up the speed and incline to mirror what you would do on a regular run. While you’re in the gym, make sure to take advantage of the other equipment as well. Some squats, core exercises and light lifting will go a long way towards preparing you for the marathon.

3. Get some new running gear:
Never underestimate the motivation that comes with some brand new running clothing. A new pair of warm pants, the perfect running top and some warm hats and gloves can keep you warm and happy through your training. Marathon Sports has some great running clothing, and if you sign up for their email newsletter you can get 15 percent off your purchase.

What other training secrets have used to prepare for the Boston Marathon? Let me know!

Going on vacation? Bring your running shoes!

If you're traveling this holiday season, bring your running shoes along and make sure you take advantage of your new surroundings. Running on vacation is one of the best ways you can explore a new area or city and get a bearing on your surroundings. Also, if you're overseas and plan on trying out a new cuisine, running will be a good way to stay in shape - and hungry.

If you're staying in a city, waking up early and taking a morning run is optimal in order to beat the tourists and traffic. This is a perfect way to begin the day, and once you're finished with the run you will have the entire day to explore. You will also already be familiar with the city, so navigating your way to different locations won't be a problem.

Another advantage of running in the morning is that you will be able to see parts of the city that you would never walk or drive to, which are often some of the most interesting and hidden places. Any river or body of water nearby is usually an optimal place for a run and will keep you from getting lost.

If you’re traveling to Europe, the opportunity to run down cobblestone streets and pass by ancient buildings could even be the highlight of a trip. Meanwhile, those escaping to warmer weather and beaches should take advantage of the sun and soak in the landscape and beautiful views while Boston is faced with cold weather and possible snow.

Before heading out, it is important to make sure that the city (and area) you are running in is safe, and if you don't feel comfortable, it may be better to stick on the treadmill. However, if you are traveling to a new place or warmer weather, take advantage of your surroundings and explore the new area, it will be worth it!

Runner Rage

Over the weekend I wrote a post about how runners can stay safe from crazy drivers. Specifically, I wrote, "As difficult as it may be to count your blessings and continue running without taking out your anger, avoiding confrontation is the safest and smartest choice."

I have to admit - I don't always follow this advice. When cars drive to close to me on the road or carelessly drive through intersections, I usually let them know how I feel. I don't really like to give them the finger, because that can make some people really upset, but I often throw my hands in the air to say, "what are you doing! Watch out, I'm trying to run here!"

What drivers don't realize is that runners are out there in the zone. Even though we are on roads, we're wondering in our minds, enjoying our free time to workout and be at peace. Therefore, when someone disrupts that peace of mind we get upset - very upset.

During my college days our cross-country team has had many experiences with bad drivers. Some people have almost hit us, and we let them know. There were a lot of fingers, even more hands in the air, and even a couple fists against the car. There were some other drivers who thought it would be cool to call us names when they drove by. When we caught up to them it was always payback.

What I'm trying to say is that Runner Rage is something real, and it's not going to stop. It's just a matter of controlling it.