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Winter's Wrench in Your Training Plan

Posted by Chrissy Horan  February 19, 2014 11:07 PM

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As if training for a marathon is not difficult enough, why not throw in 1-3 snow storms a week to keep things interesting?

It may be a little unfair for me to complain, since I just got back from a week in St. John, but it was pretty much necessary for my own sanity. My post-vacation glow was the only thing that kept me from cursing aloud when I got sprayed with slush while waiting to cross the street today.

Welcome home.

But both this less than ideal weather and my vacation did allow me to put into practice some handy tools I've learned about training in less than optimal conditions. What can be less than optimal about a gorgeous Caribbean island, you might ask?

1. The roads in St. John are super hilly. Like Summit Ave hilly, with turns, without sidewalks and along cliffs. Add tourists driving on the left side of the road for possibly the first time and I didn't exactly feel safe running in very many places.

2. These guys are everywhere and totally creeped me out. P1000785.JPG

Both before vacation and now that I’ve been home a bit, the winter weather has me tweaking workouts as well. I really don’t want to wreck my marathon training by taking a digger while doing a tempo run on icy roads. So I have resigned myself to a few more treadmill runs than I would like, hoping the payoff is worthwhile.

However, in doing so, I add about 20 minutes to my workout time to drive to and from the gym and dress/undress while there. (I’m also way too much of a wimp and would not consider leaving the house without several layers over the shorts and t shirt I run in once at the gym.) Already waking up early (and going to bed too late), it’s tough for me to make up for some of this lost time.

On days like these when I have less time for my workout, I prioritize quality of miles over quantity of miles to get the most from my workout. My former running coach, Dean Hebert, taught me the importance of quality over quantity in general and has a great blog post in which he outlines his rubric for substitute workouts.

When my 8-mile run can only be 6 miles, I try to get the greatest bang for my buck on each of those miles. If I can plan in advance for a crazy week at work or vacation, I will bust my butt the weeks before and then cut back and reduce my overall mileage the week things get busy.

And if I can’t plan ahead, then I will do the best that I can to adapt my schedule and still get the most out of whatever runs I can. Because training is important, but stuff happens – weather, work, life – and sometimes we need to have more than just flexible hamstrings to make it all fit.

As always, let me know what you think and what’s going on in your running community. Post comments here or email me at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

     Chrissy Horan has been running around Boston and nearby neighborhoods since 2000. An athlete through high school and college, she has found the running community in Boston to More »

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