If you’re registered for Boston and you live in the in a part of the world where the winters are particularly brutal the reality is that you’ll need to train through some harsh winters. The bomb cyclone has thrown a wrench into most of the traditional programs. In our RunBoston system we address when you need to call an audible in the case of inclement weather, and what you need to do.
If it’s really bad out, something like the featured picture post bomb cyclone, we see absolutely no reason why you’d go out and try to do a long run in this type of event. You’re not getting a quality effort in AT ALL and you’re ultimately wasting time and putting in junk miles. The chest beating “I still went out and ran” selfie that you post on your Facebook and Instagram feeds showing your friends how tough you are really doesn’t help. The Boston Marathon course unfortunately doesn’t care about your selfies. Sliding on ice/slush, stopping and restarting to dodge snowbanks, often times stepping and shuffling instead of running only to barely crack a recovery pace.
Moreover, we find that there’s too much emphasis in these programs on the “big bang” long run at the end of the week. The weekend long run should not be 75, 85, 90% of the marathoners weekly volume. This becomes problematic when inclement weather comes around on the weekend and you cannot do that effectively or at all.
When inclement weather comes around call an audible and take your run indoors. You actually don’t have to do a 2-3 hour long run on the treadmill. We heard this was recommended to charity runners and we find this to be madness for many runners. Not everyone can run that long on a treadmill and it would certainly be a challenge for recreational and fitness runners.
Instead you can do a shorter (say 60-75 minute) timed and structured interval based threshold and recovery treadmill set. With our athletes we structure these sets in a way that will get the marathoner measurable gains and targeted impact that will have as much or even more physiological benefit than a scheduled aerobic paced long run.
When we work with marathoners training through the winter, we have a set number of audibles for cases just like the bomb cyclone. One of our favorite “go tos” is a workout called best hour of running power. It is one hour, no more no less after an acceptable warm up. During the hour, the runner is targeting their threshold zone by heart rate and perceived effort. Over 2/3 of the hour should be at or very near threshold. This is a very tough workout for many runners but that’s the point. Because you’re unable to run long, you’re trading off longer aerobic time for shorter more quality time. Considering the circumstances that hour will be a quality and impactful replacement for running long and maximize your opportunity cost of time. Bear in mind this is just one example. We provide more examples of appropriate audibles in our RunBoston system and eBook. Runners can break up a 60-75 minute time slot, make a good playlist and alternate between variations of threshold and recovery intervals for impact. There’s also nothing that says you can’t break up an indoor our outdoor run into separate digestable increments, broken by several hours.
Using a heart rate monitor or perceived effort marathoners should know what their threshold zone and pace is if they’re doing regular field testing in their training. The olympic coach and exercise physiologist Jack Daniels PhD gives an excellent explanation on the benefit and impact of threshold training in the video below.