Running in winter

2 Feb

By ALEX MATTHEWS — The Post-Star | Posted: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 1:00 am

Most people don’t wake up every morning with a driving desire to hit the gym, trails, roads, whatever.

It takes some effort to get our bodies in motion, which is why fitness centers tend to quiet down by February. New Year’s and its resolutions are out of sight, out of mind, and it’s cold out.

Take last Friday, for instance, when the temperature was forecast at a high of 13. I had told Mark Regan, a member of The Adirondack Runners and associate executive director of internal operations at the Glens Falls YMCA, that I would run with him.

The 53-year-old consistently runs outside five to six days a week — year-round — and he invited me to join one of his “easy” 5- to 6-mile jaunts.

“It’s kind of nice when it is cold outside to get out in the sunshine,” he said.

I had to point out that he works in a place with more than a dozen treadmills. He said he has only used the machines twice — both stress tests at the doctors office.

“I figure I’ll probably walk off it and embarrass myself,” he said. “That’s mainly why I run. I don’t have any hand-eye coordination. I don’t play basketball, football, anything like that, but I can keep one foot in front of the other.”

That he can. I ran with Regan in all of 7 degrees on his 5-mile route from the YMCA parking lot, down Fire Road to Dixon and out to a hill on Old Forge Road and back. He chooses roads with wide shoulders and stays far left on the left side, insisting runners need to actively watch oncoming traffic.

“They’re not necessarily looking for you this time of year,” he said.

At least weekly, Regan runs with fellow Adirondack Runners for the social and sometimes-competitive aspect. While anyone can join their runs, especially Sundays at 8 a.m. in front of the Y, he said finding a running partner or training group can help lagging motivation.

Each spring, Fleet Fleet, a running shoe store in Colonie, hosts a “No Boundaries” 12-week program for those wanting to run or walk their first 5-kilometer race. Regan worked with the program last year and said people can look online or ask YMCA staff for information on similar groups.

While I was glad I joined Regan and logged some outdoor miles, winter running may not be for everyone.

“I just like being outside. I sit inside all day long,” Regan said. “You’re stuck in winter for four or five months out of the year so you might as well get outside and enjoy it.”

The indoor option

Outside of the Regan’s hardy circle, there are those of us who would rather stay inside.

While training for a spring marathon in Burlington, Vt., two years ago, personal trainer Melissa Lemery built up with 20- to 30-minute treadmill workouts to avoid running on icy roads.

An avid cyclist and spinning instructor, the self-described casual runner said she prefers to mix up her workouts with short, interval runs. She recommended starting at a 1 percent incline on the treadmill, then steadily increasing and decreasing the incline and speed to simulate speed bursts on varied terrain.

“For me, if you only have 30 minutes, it’s the best thing you can do,” Lemery said. “It gets your heart rate up quickly, it’s therapeutic, and it burns a lot of calories.”

The Y’s adult wellness coordinator, Lindsay Lentini, explained that running at least once a week can combat boredom while producing feel-good hormones.

“People will talk about the runner’s high,” she said. “A person on an elliptical just might not get that endorphin boost.”

Best of all, the sport doesn’t require a gym membership — only motivation.

“You don’t really need any piece of equipment other than your sneakers,” Lentini said. “It’s just easy to do because you can do it anywhere.”

Original story: http://poststar.com/sports/running-in-the-winter/article_5a278798-0fbe-11df-83f8-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1RwzJiKKF

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