Running In Cold Weather

by Yvonne, answer by Marius
(Washington, DC )

Running in cold weather can be a big challenge, especially in the shorter distances. But for the marathon, however, you usually don't have much to worry about.

Fact is that some of the greatest marathon performances all time has been set with temparatures around 4-6 degrees C (mid 30s F) - which is quite differerent compared to 5ks/10ks where the ideal temperature is around 15-18 degrees C (60s F).

Yvonne had this question :

I am preparing for Boston after qualifying last year in my first marathon (NYC 3:27). Unfortunately, I had to pull out of Toronto with sprained calf muscle. I am now back on my feet, but not nearly in the shape I was for NYC. Now that I have read a bit more, I have discovered that I had not really trained for NYC, but just ran to see if I could run a marathon.

Now I want to run Boston, and want to break 3 hours. From what I have read, I will not likely break 3 hours, but would like to get into peak shape.

How do I do this when my biggest challenge is the cold weather?

First, congratulations with your 3:27 first marathon ! With that time in New York, you should be able to get under 3 hours - it will only be a matter of time and the right/fast course.

Running In Cold Weather

To your question about running in cold weather. This is nothing to worry about for the marathon. In fact it is usually only positive.

There are a couple of things you can do though, to make the cold weather "optimal" :

1. Wear hat and cloves initially - up until about 20-25 km

This is by far the best way to preserve energy in the first part of the race. And much more important than all of the rest. You may also consider using compression type socks (Nike-type) on the lower legs if you are bothered with any kind of lower leg cramps (like your calf problems before).

2.Use vaseline if the weather is "rainy"

If the weather is cold and rainy is is wise to use vaseline on the quads, arms and lower legs. This is a trick that cyclists use and it helps you keep warm as the rain drains off the skin due to the vaseline.

This is an excellent tip that I've used myself in large meets even over the 5k with great results and a "smooth" muscular feeling even though it has been rainy and cold.

A much bigger challenge for the Boston Marathon is dealing with the hills there. What you want to do in your marathon training is to have some runs where you end off the session with runs of 20-3o seconds up a hill - repeated 10-15 times.

This is the # 1 tip for a fast Boston time.

This type of work is much more effective than pure hill sessions - because your body is already in a "steady state" of running before going for the hill. Just like in races.

Good luck with your Boston marathon training!

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