Running Through a Winter Wonderland

Snowy Run2Sometimes, there’s nothing more peaceful than a winter run in the snow. Last weekend my boyfriend and I went up to Jacobsburg State Park, a reservation with miles of trails – technical and easy – just north of the Lehigh Valley. We knew it might be risky because a snowstorm was coming into the region but when we got there, the snow falling lightly around us, we couldn’t wait to head out on the trails.

We hadn’t really planned our route too much ahead of time. We looked at a map and thought we’d try out one of the longer routes, even though it went through some of the hunting land. I think we made it about a tenth of a mile onto the trail before spotting our first hunter, who luckily spotted us as well, and told us it would be best for us to run on the non-hunting land. We took his word for it, turned around and headed for the shorter loops.

The trail we picked had about a mile of some pretty technical, narrow paths. We took it very slow, due to the difficulty and the snow, but I think I had a smile on my face the entire time.

As we kept climbing up the trail, I was careful to keep my eyes on the path in front of me, instead of the pretty snow falling around us. But the second I took my eyes off I felt my legs come out from under me and I was on the ground. I had hit a patch of ice on the downhill but recovered almost gracefully. I had thought I’d be fine running on the trail because I was wearing my new trail shoes but turns out you can’t be saved from snow covered ice sometimes. I brushed off the snow that had covered my legs and we kept running along.

We only did just over 4 miles on the trails before the snow really started coming down and we decided we should head home. This was the first time I had run trails in the snow and I learned a lot. Some of the tips I gathered are:

  1. Check the hunting laws in the area- We checked before we left, and knew it was the last day of rifle season, but thought we’d be fine to run through anyway. When conditions are a little dicey though, be on the safe side and run in non-hunting areas. Here’s a great article from Runner’s World about how to run safely through hunting season.
  2. Wear trail shoes- Although I did wipe out once, I probably would have fallen a lot more had it not been for my trail shoes. I have a pair of Nike Zoom Kigers that I wear not only on trails but on snowy/icy roads. Trail shoes are a great alternative to Yaktrax for winter running.

    Nike Zoom Kiger

    Nike Zoom Kiger

  3. Keep you strides short- Running on trails is different than running on the road. You’ll want to keep your stride shorter to avoid falling.
  4. Watch where you’re going- It’s fun to look around but when the trail gets technical keep your eyes on the path you’re running on to avoid any roots or dips you might miss.
  5. Don’t worry about pace- On some of the technical parts of the trail we went as slow as 11:00/mile but that’s because we were climbing and dodging trees. Trail running in the snow will also feel a lot harder so focus more on effort than pace.
  6. Have fun!- Running through snowy woods is peaceful and exciting. It’s an adventure. You’ll feel like a kid again so enjoy it!

Do you have any other tips for running on trails in the winter? Share them below!

Running My Second Half-Marathon

run disneyI feel like I’ve been training since the day I started running, which was not too long ago. I took my first running steps last February when I decided to start a Couch-to-5K program. Now, I’m getting ready to run my second half-marathon, less than a year later.

I say I feel like I’ve been training since I started running because I really have. I began the Couch-to-5K program with the intention of training for my first 5-K. Before I even toed the starting line of my goal race, I was registered for a four miler on the Fourth of July. Then, about a week after finishing that race I registered for my first half-marathon in September.

It wasn’t until after my half, when I decided I needed to cool off a bit, that I felt lost. I did some 5-Ks but I craved the longer distances. In November, as winter started to set in, I decided I’d come up with a new goal of training for a sub-50 minute 10-K. Up until that point, all of my running goals had been based on distance so I figured, in an effort to get faster and bring purpose back to my runs, I’d set a new goal.

My sub-50 10-K training was going really well and before I knew it my average paces were dropping from the familiar and comfortable 9:50/10:00 per mile to 8-minute miles. I was getting faster and I liked it but then I was presented with the opportunity to run the Disney Half-Marathon.

It didn’t take much coaxing from my co-workers to get me to register with the Runner’s World Challenge but I was still a little hesitant because I would only have six weeks to train and my longest run since my half-marathon in September barely broke 7 miles.

But I registered anyways and started to increase my long run mileage on the weekends and my midweek mileage runs went from 3 miles to 5 miles. Last weekend, I did a 9-mile long run and surprised myself with paces around 8:40/8:50 per mile! I couldn’t believe it because when I was training for my first half-marathon all of my times were in the 10-minute mile range.

I’m not trying to say I’m some gifted runner, because I’m not, I’m a very average runner and I still have a lot to learn. But it’s amazing what a new goal, in my case the sub-50 10-K, can do to you. I’m so looking forward to the Disney Half-Marathon and can’t wait to meet the rest of the Challengers to hear their stories!

Video: Run for peace

Sometimes when I’m training I forget to remember the reason I actually enjoy running. When I started running and I realized I was actually not bad at it, I liked it because it cleared my head and I found peace with myself. Running with friends only amplifies that experience and it’s important not to forget this as weeks of training go by. While it’s good to challenge yourself as a runner, it’s more important to enjoy it and always remember why you’re running. I saw this video of Kilian Jornet and thought it perfectly exemplified why I love running. Check it out:

 

Kilian Jornet: Back to the source from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

It’s warm, do some trail running!

Map of the Robert Frost Trail (Courtesy Amherst Conservation Department)

I have always joked that spring time in New England is comparable to Fantasia – everyone comes out of the woodwork and is rejuvenated, happy and ready to be outdoors. At least that’s how I feel! I am lucky to live in western Massachusetts, rich with hiking trails and home of the Berkshires. Today was a beautiful weather, a ripe 72 degrees, which is rare for the beginning of March in New England, so I decided to take advantage. I grabbed a friend, filled my water bottle and hit a trail located less than a mile from my apartment.

I discovered the trail a few days ago on my ride home from the gym. I had noticed cars parked near a clearing at the side of the rode before but never stopped to check it out. Turns out the entrance near my apartment is part of the Robert Frost Trail, a 47 mile long trek that spans from the Holyoke Grange in South Hadley, Mass. to Wendell State Forest. The trail has a ton of scenic spots including the Holyoke Range, Mount Orient, Puffer’s Pond and Mount Toby. Overall the trail’s terrain is relatively easy with some steep inclines and rugged areas.

This trail is great for running because although there are inclines at some of the more mountainous spots, there are opportunities for loop-hikes and it has offshoots of shorter trails. Also, the terrain is pretty clear and flat, making for an easier run. The trail is considered a “literary trail” and named after the famed poet, Robert Frost, who lived and taught in the Amherst area from 1916 to 1938. The Robert Frost Trail is among several other literary trails in the Amherst area and they are aimed to connect the area’s literary tradition with it’s rich landscape. The Amherst Conservation Department has a full listing and map on their website of other literary trails.

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