Marathon Training Weeks 7-8: Tracks, Tracking, and the Great Outdoors
After a long battle against Winter 2.0 (also known in Cleveland as March and early April), I was finally able to run outside. Though I’ve been able to get decent distance on treadmills and indoor tracks, I was eager to get outside and soak up the sun for energy a la Superman. Considering my indoor venues, I was unsure of how I would handle outdoor running.
The results floored me.
I was flying and I felt great. Normally, halfway into my longer runs my legs would begin to ache around the joints, and I would significantly slow my pace as a result. Quoth the raven and my legs, “Nevermore!” Turned out that pavement felt much more natural, and I was able to complete a 20 and 16 mile run over each of the past Saturdays.
Based on my own experience, here are some takeaways and advice from my outdoor excursions:
If Possible, Run Outside
Each indoor running option has distinct disadvantages. Treadmills are murder on your joints over long periods of time. Indoor tracks are a slight improvement but can be hell on your knees and ankles if the track is unidirectional. This is especially the case if the track takes 10 laps to equal a mile.
Pick Your Course Wisely
Since I’m working with Team in Training, I have the advantage of having my routes picked out for me. Because everyone is training for a run, they pick out parks and pathways with long mileage and almost no incline. Unfortunately, your nearest park or path might not share these lovely features. The bike path by my parents’ house, for instance, is 66% incline. If possible, call information or scout ahead to avoid an agonizing fight uphill.
Find a Way to Track Your Distance
Tracking your distance during your run is crucial for determining your pace, knowing when to turn around, and, of course, knowing when to stop. Thankfully, there’s a number of easy ways to gauge your mileage. For the tech-savvy, there are apps. Most running friendly apps will notate both your distance and your average speed. If you’re going for a long run, be mindful of your battery; GPS-based running apps tend to drain batteries quickly. If going high-tech isn’t an option, plenty of paths offer mile markers. When in doubt, school tracks are typically open to the public and offer the “Four Laps = 1 Mile” distance. Speaking of tracks….
Constantly Switch Directions on A Track
Tracking running might be monotonous, but it’s an easy way to keep track of your distance. Going in the same direction for a longer run, however, will wear on your joints. Because about 200 of each 400 meters is spent on the turn, your body will angle ever so slightly to accommodate your pathway. This doesn’t make a huge difference in a sprin,t but if you’re running 12 miles, you might feel it in your knees. I personally change direction every 1-2 miles, but your figurative and literal mileage may vary.
Dress for 30°F Warmer Than It Is at the Moment
Morning runs often take place in colder conditions, and many amateur runners (myself included) will bundle up their bodies to avoid feeling chilly during the run. Though great at first, once your body heats up from running, that extra sweatshirt can become unbearable. If you’re on a path, you’re now left with two unappealing options:
- Sweat out your body weight.
- Awkwardly carry your clothing.
To avoid this dilemma, my running coaches recommend dressing for 30 degrees warmer than the current temperature. This allows you to be more in charge of your own body temperature without hindrances.
Treadmills might be part of your gym membership, but they can’t compare to feeling the wind rushing by and the sun on your face. So, combat your Seasonal Affective Disorder, get out there, take your precautions, and RUN!
Scott Danielson is a social media marketer with a heart of gold. In his spare time, Scott hits on his fiancée, tries to teach sign language to his cat, and yells at his neighbor for watching Django Unchained at full volume at 1 am on week night.