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Tips for Winter Running

I have run four marathons, two of which were below two hours and 50 minutes. I ran for physical tests in the marine corps, where we were tested on our ability to run three miles. So far my best three-mile run has been exactly 16 minutes. Here are some of my tips on how you can keep on running when the temperature drops.

If marathon running has caught your attention, and Boston Marathon fever has you wondering if maybe you should get out and run it next April, then there are a couple of novice winter running tips that you should consider.

Winter running in Boston is brutal. You absolutely need to be prepared. If you are just starting out on a beginner’s running program, then you can make do with a treadmill for a few weeks, but eventually you are going to have to get outside and understand the difference between the treadmill and the concrete. The transition from fall to winter temperatures offers a period of time where your lungs can slowly grow accustomed to the colder air temperature. If you just try and jump out in the middle of January, you will have a tough time running.

The temperature from December to February will stick between the 20’s and 30’s, and this is a reasonable temperature to run in. I don’t recommend running in temperature under 5 degrees; there is uncertainty whether or not lower temperatures can have a negative affect on one’s health. With your lungs acclimated to the colder temperatures, you now have to dress warmly so you can survive out in the cold weather for more than half an hour.

You don’t want your clothes to impede your body movements or to excessively weigh you down. Sports apparel stores sell the latest in running pants, which are essentially long underwear and spandex. Gloves, a hat, thicker socks and a good windbreaker jacket are essential if you want to run in 20-degree temperature. These winter running clothes will keep you warm enough that you can keep running, while also providing enough access to cold air so that perspiration will not get out of control.

Now that you are warm outside, you might realize that most sidewalks never get plowed after a snowstorm. Running on the street is dangerous and drivers will yell at you. I don’t recommend running on iced-over sidewalks. Make those snow days a day on the treadmill instead of a day creating an injury. It can be beautiful running around Boston in the middle of the winter; you will be a lone warrior taking on the streets and the elements. After those temperatures, a marathon will seem easy.