How to Dress for Winter Training Success

Deciding what to wear while running and walking in an Indianapolis winter isn’t an easy task. Negative wind chills at the beginning of the week can easily shift to sixty degrees and sunny by the end of the week. One thing that won’t shift, however, is the date of that Spring race you signed up for in November. I mean, who wants to train on a treadmill every day until the end of March? This blog post is going to help you make sure you have the perfect running or walking outfit to tackle the fickle Indiana weather all season.

Dress for “Adjusted” Temperature.

The first thing you want to think about when deciding what to wear before a run or walk is the “adjusted” workout temperature. When you run or walk, your body is going to heat up, and your outfit needs to be suited to deal with this change comfortably. Try to dress for a temperature that is 15-20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. I look at the “Feels like” temperature on my weather app (which takes factors like windchill and humidity into account) and go from there. Everyone responds to temperature changes differently, so it may take multiple trials to figure out what is right for you. Start out by making the 15-20 degree adjustment, which is pretty reliable, and then make further changes as you see fit. Also, keep in mind how strenuous your run or walk will be. A leisurely jog or walk may not require as extreme an adjustment to the actual outside temperature as a fast-paced interval workout will.

Base Layers

Choose the right Base Layer.

A good base layer uses special synthetic fabric (and not cotton) and weaving technology to help wick (pull away) moisture away from your skin to aid in the evaporation of sweat. These are durable shirts that will never fade and will benefit you in hot or cold conditions. The most underrated winter base layer in my opinion is the wind boxer shown above. It’s a great piece for men and women, but to the guys out there: if it’s cold enough, you will wish you had a pair, trust me. 😉

Mid Layer

The Mid Layer helps regulate body temperature.

The mid layer helps regulate your body temperature by directing body heat back into your body and by stopping cold air from passing through to your body. They often feature specially placed vents, fleece-lined panels, and, in some cases, protective wind and rain shields. Many thermal layers contain special pockets to hold personal items like phones and keys. For the majority of the winter season, you can easily get by with just a base layer and a mid layer.

Shells

Top it off with an Outer Protection Shell.

The outer protection shell is most beneficial in poor winter conditions. Its function is to protect you from rain, sleet, ice, snow, wind, and more. There are a variety of options available depending on the level of protection you require. There is a variety of apparel items, from vests to jackets, available to provide you with the protection you need on any given day.

Neck Gaiter, Balaclava, Hat, Gloves

Don’t forget your head and hands.

Having a good running hat and pair of gloves is crucial for making it through the winter. There are a variety of different options and thicknesses to fit what you are looking for. If your hands are super cold all the time, then I suggest a mitten. If being able to use your phone is important, there are now a lot of options that allow you to use a touch screen without taking off your gloves. I personally run with a glove-mitten hybrid so that I have the option of a mitten but can switch to a glove when my hands get warm. On the really cold days a balaclava or neck gaiter are crucial to protect your face against the elements. It’s best to try on different options and think about when you will use them. A good hat and pair of gloves can get you through several winters.

Hopefully this blog post gave you a good idea of how to tackle difficult winter training days. Investing in a good winter wardrobe will not only help you train like a champ this winter, but for several winters to come. Best of luck with your training. If you liked this post next time you see me say balaclava and I will take that as a thank you!

Runners Strength: 3 Exercises To Help You Have Less Injuries And Finish Strong

You love to run, right? But this whole strength training as a runner thing is a bit confusing, you don’t want it to interfere with your run plan or know what exercises you should be doing.

The good news is not only is adding strength training make you a stronger, less injury prone and faster runner, but you can add it to your weekly plan without throwing a hitch your run game!

MINDSET CHECK: Strength training is not cross-training it is just apart of your training as a runner and an athlete

Why is Strength Training important:

What does the Research say:

Effects of Heavy & Explosive Strength Training on Endurance Performance

  • Increase economy (ease of running)
  • Increase lactate threshold
  • Decrease or delayed fatigue
  • Increase max strength & speed
  • Improved endurance performance
  • Increase rate of force development (measure of explosive strength)

Strength Training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could almost be halved

Strength Training on Performance in Endurance Athletes

  • Improved velocity at VO2 max
  • Power output at VO2 max
  • Maximal anerobic running test velocity

KEY TAKEAWAY: VO2 max is the measure of the maximal amount of oxygen a person can use during intense exercise, so its basically a measurement of your body’s ability to use oxygen ie taken more oxygen and deliver to muscles

So let’s put this all together and give you 3 really easy to implement exercises you can do anywhere! You can also easily add them to your easy pace days. If you are currently in training season you will be good to add these as well! Remember the heavy and explosive strength training benefits above? It is recommended you implement a program like that after racing system and go from there.

Our power muscles the glutes, the cheeks, the peaches, etc whatever you want to call them need alot of attention in most runners so the three exercises below focus on increasing strength and stability there. Adding them to your routine will get you on the road to running easier, faster, and with less nagging aches or pain. Some focus can also help you to hit that PR in your next race!

KEY TAKEAWAY: This series of exercises are perfect for easy run days. If you need to begin without resistance thats ok, 3 sets of 15 with or without using resistance band

These are just a starting point to adding more targeted runners strength exercises into your run plan. The idea is to begin targeted strengthening program that includes free weights, barbell, kettlebells, etc that can be used throughout the year with different adjustments based on your run/walk or training schedule. Stronger hips to keep you on the pavement = a happy and faster runner!

Research excerpt from PT management for endurance runners

Featured Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Dr Latisha Williams @runforlifeindy, is a new member of Indy Runners, loves helping others, has been a physical therapist since 2007, RRCA Certified Run Coach and Owner of Run For Life Performance & Physical Therapy

Why the Long Run (or Walk)? Or a distance athlete walks into a bar…

For as long as I have been a distance athlete, I’ve done a long run once a week. My first long runs were six grueling miles on the country roads of Bloomington, Indiana as a high school cross country athlete. Nowadays, I can log up to 30 miles during a long run if I’m training for an ultra event. And although it’s practically a distance running cliche, I believe the long run is the most important run of the week.

What is a long run? Why is it so important? What’s going on under the hood, so to speak? And what is up with this bar and where is the bartender? I will try to shed some light on the former three questions, but you’re on your own with the last one. What exactly is a long run and what you are getting out of it?

Author’s note: While I am using the term “long run” throughout this post, please note that the same training guidelines and physiological concepts apply if you are a distance walker and not a runner! Get after it!

What is a “long run”?

The short answer: it’s the longest run of the week. Shocking, I know. The distance and duration will vary depending on the race you’re training for. If you are training for a half marathon, your long run will be less than someone’s who is training for a marathon. In order to facilitate the necessary physiological changes for performing well at longer distances (i.e. full- and half-marathons), the total time of a long run should be more than 90-105 minutes regardless of pace.

Why are “long runs” important? And what’s going on under the hood?

  • Energy Efficiency: Running long distances improves your body’s ability to store glycogen (energy in the form of stored carbohydrates), handle glycogen depletion (when your body starts to run low on fuel), manage muscle fatigue, and use fat in conjunction with glycogen as energy.
  • Muscle Adaptation: During your long run, the cells that make up your muscles increase in size by adding more fibers (the parts that contract) and mitochondria (the parts of the cells that use oxygen to generate energy). There is also an increase in enzymes–which ultimately increases the rate at which delivered oxygen can be used to create energy. And finally, more capillaries become active within exercising muscles, delivering oxygen to and removing waste from them more efficiently.
  • Running Economy: Simply put, running long increases your body’s ability to utilize oxygen more efficiently.
  • Aerobic Capacity: Most runners, especially new runners, are greatly held back by their lack of aerobic capacity (a measure of efficiency, as described above). The biggest gains you can make in overall performance come with increasing aerobic capacity, and running long is one of the best ways to do that.
  • Mental Toughness: News Flash — When running long distances, there is likely some amount of discomfort that you have to manage. If this hasn’t been your experience, I would suggest maybe running farther or faster. Anyway, the more you run long the better you will be at handling the discomfort–emotionally and physically.
  • Specificity of Training: This means that the system you stress is the system that improves. So basically, if you are training for a long distance race, you are going to get the most benefit from running long distances. Micheal Jordan didn’t become a great basketball player by riding a bike!

Final Thoughts and A Word of Warning

So now that I’ve unlocked all the mysteries behind the long run (or walk), you’re ready to get out there and go for as long as you can the next chance you get, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. To minimize your risk of injury, you need to build up your long run over time and in a responsible manner. That means that if the longest you’ve ever run is 6 miles, it’s probably not a good idea to go out for 16 miles tomorrow. A good training program (especially for newer runners) will increase your long run duration over the course of a training cycle (e.g. 12-16 weeks for a half- or full-marathon) and typically have 1 recovery week per month where the distance of your long run is decreased.

I hope that this information has helped you better understand why it is beneficial to incorporate a long run or walk into your training and what you are getting out of it. If you think I got something wrong or left something out, be sure to let me know in the comments. Also, if you liked this blog post, next time you see me out in the real world shout “Mitochondria!” so I know you read the whole thing!