Winter, I Must Break You
Guest Blogger Eric Jorgensen
Winter awakens the dormant ninja in runners—we become invisible. For a large chunk of the American populace, what once was a workout that doubled as therapy becomes cruel and unusual during the dark months of Daylight Spending. We runners retreat indoors and tell ourselves we’ll sweat it out on a treadmill, which we honor as best we can. But for the San Francisco Marathon runner who chose this race for the guts it takes to complete and for the aesthetics of the most beautiful urban marathon in the country, training on a treadmill is like cooking a four-course Emeril Lagasse meal in the microwave—it’s underwhelming.
We winter weather hermits need to be resourceful with cross training, and my weapon of choice is Crossfit.
There are Terminator runners, like Ambassadors Jerry Allison and Joe Whelan, who can’t be slowed by things like snow, sleet or Absolute Zero. If you’re training for a winter or early spring race, you either have to share Jerry and Joe’s gumption, or resign yourself to months on a treadmill. I envy runners who can handle a treadmill, for I am cursed with gypsy’s blood, and a treadmill is my solitary confinement. That’s why instead of running on a treadmill or in the dark abyss of winter, I cross train.
Note: Several of my fellow ambassadors agree there is a caveat to winter running: snow running. We might moan when stepping into a blistering wind, but if it’s actively snowing, the tiny primal monster inside us resurges. We cut through the falling snow and the near-soundless vacuum it creates, and we feel alive. We are Rocky in Russia.
I treat the winter much like an offseason. I will run outdoors on the weekend during daylight and sometimes around sunset on weekdays, but I focus on increasing my strength and overall fitness, which often happens indoors. I have refined a winter training regime that mixes cardio with resistance training, which is good for me because I grow antsy as I repeat the same routine. I’ve been told I have a few commitment issues, and thus my workouts tend to mold to my mood and the weather.
Personally, having well-rounded fitness abilities are important to me. Marathons are like tattoos; once you’ve had one you want another and another, but I don’t necessarily want marathons to be my niche. I don’t want a niche. I want to be a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. I like the thought that a friend could invite me to any random athletic event and I could compete with only a day’s notice, and winter provides a stage for this kind of training. I utilize time I might use for running during the summer for Crossfit and resistance training.
On my blog, I’ve listed some of my favorite Crossfit workouts if you’re curious to try.
It’s no secret cross training is beneficial to runners , and in winter it is often necessary. After using Crossfit for cross training, I have noticed increases in my strength (especially my core), muscle stamina, and explosiveness. Why would a marathoner need explosiveness? Have you run a hill, then immediately come to another… for 26.2 miles? Crossfit trains you to attack San Francisco’s rolling hills, as opposed to them taking you to task.
Obviously, Crossfit isn’t the only cross training platform that benefits runners. The winter cross training exercise that is best for you is whatever makes you happy. Nancy Peck-Cook is our Massachusetts-based ambassador. She instructs alpine skiers when the weather turns, and she loves it, which makes it easy for her to train in the winter.
Ambassador Daniela Vasquez is a yoga fanatic. And if you’ve ever seen the P90X videos, you know fitness icon Tony Horton is, too. Yoga is great for cross training and soothing tender bodies.
Winter is sometimes burdensome for runners, but we can be pragmatic. If you can find a cross training workout you love, you might just be able to weather the storm until spring lets you really hit the pavement and trails.
Eric Jorgensen is a magazine editor and blogger from the Kansas City metro area who spends large chunks of time in Los Angeles. He once had a Coca-Cola commercial made about him for being one of the craziest college basketball fans in the country, which he still is (Rock Chalk). He has run a road race is full hipster garb, and has yet to drown during a triathlon. His first marathon was The 2011 San Francisco Marathon, which he live-Tweeted. If you’re interested in training with Eric, have any SF Marathon questions, or like friending random people on Facebook, add him on Facebook. He also Tweets, so there’s that.