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Kathrine's training tip: First step - conditions

I’m planning on running the TCS New York City Marathon on November 5, which is all about the experience of doing it through the streets after winning it in 1974, when the race was held entirely in Central Park.

Just 2 weeks ago I was dripping sweat on a sweltering hot day at my home in the Hudson Valley of New York and my mind was drifting onward to the conditions I might experience in November.  As I write this post, I am in the dead of winter in New Zealand with an inadequate old radiator creaking away next to me, and outside it is rainy, cold, sleety and windy. I’m thinking again of the conditions in New York.  I’ve been there when the race has had both extremes, and everything in between. I also realize I’m talking here to friends who live and train in both hemispheres, and are experiencing totally opposite conditions!

So even-- or especially—if you are NOT running New York, let’s talk about conditions in general for running and how to cope with them, because probably more than any other thing except time management, it is weather that disrupts a training program. Here are some points I want to encourage you with:

First, embrace the conditions and work with them. Once you’ve mastered the determination to get out and run regardless of the conditions, you will be rewarded in many ways. The biggest is that you will always find you feel way better for having done a workout than not.  Moreover, by quitting the habit of negative whining and procrastination, you finish workouts feeling like you’ve triumphed over adversity, you’ve added a dimension of superiority to yourself, and you’ve locked in a great experience. It’s a helluva lot more than just logging miles. The more experiences you have in running, the less intimidated you feel in a race; or any other pressure filled situation in your life. Best of all, it is all wondrous! You see things no one else in the world sees.  

So how do we start? Think it out, be creative and be prepared:

Always:  Wear ID, and let someone know where you are and when you are expected to return. Leave a note if you live alone. 


  • Cold:  Get out of wind, sleet and rain by running in places that have a canopy of leaves or fir trees, they protect you. If you don’t have this, run the first part of a workout with the wind in your face (which you can slather up with heavy face cream, and a wool or cotton mask). Finish the workout with the wind at your back; you do NOT want to be sweaty and more tired running into a wind, as that invites hypothermia.  Enjoy snow with shoe grippers but avoid any place where cars can slide into you. Don’t like the dark?  Find a buddy, group run, or run loops alone around your block or your local park.  For once be very happy if you live in the suburbs as the ‘burbs are usually safe and well lighted.
  • Heat:  Take to the woods if you can, letting the shade provide a cooler place and protect you from sunburn and radiant heat. Wet your hair, wear sunscreen but sparingly as it reduces the speed at which you can sweat. If you have no choice, go out early or go out late. Watching the sun come up is a great way to start the day, running by moonlight is also magnificent. Suburbs at night are usually safe, well-lighted, and free of speeding traffic.  If there is any breeze, put it at your back when you start your run, and face it on the return (Just the opposite of cold-weather running). When are running in hot conditions, your body is in danger of over-heating, so if there is a breeze, start the workout with it at your back. Then, on the return, run into the breeze. When you are sopping wet with sweat, running into a breeze helps cool you down. Drink as much fluid as possible. Keep well-hydrated all day long, not just while running. 

And if you ARE running New York?   Conditions can be anything, but trust me on this: New York is a special event; full of adventures you will want to appreciate and absorb.  You do not want to be preoccupied by weather worries in New York, so embrace all the conditions you can now so you are free to experience the best of this unique event.

Next week:  Clothing to go with the conditions! 

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