My Running Outside Winter Guidelines and 10 Treadmill Miles

I am not really all that wimpy, but I put in a set of guidelines for running outside in Winter-like conditions, that I really believe helped me stay healthier than I have been in a long time at the end of a long and tough winter last year.

They worked fairly well last year when I paid attention to what I was doing, so I have a feeling that I will use them again this year.

  • First if there is ice on the road – run on the treadmill or use the elliptical
  • Second if it is below 20*F with or without windchills – run on the treadmill or use the elliptical
  • Third if it is in the 30’s and raining – run on the treadmill or use the elliptical
  • Fourth if is below 30*F and you are planning on a long run – use the treadmill

If I have any question about the conditions, I take Bennie for a walk and figure out if it is okay to run outside or if moving the workout inside is the correct solution. How he reacts to the conditions out there goes a long ways in my decision making process, plus I get to feel first hand how things really are.

Could I run outside in worse conditions than what I have set as my criteria to move inside?

Sure I have done it in the past without too many issues and every so often I ignore my own criteria, but at this stage of my running life I enjoy running in shorts and t-shirts versus bundling up to get outside.

Treadmilling it

After yesterday’s day off, I wanted to get in a little loner run than usual and the temps/wind chills were in the lower teens at the house (we are usually 5*F colder than Augusta-the official weather for the area). This is below my second criteria, so I headed into Planet Fitness for a treadmill run. Continue reading

Focus On What YOU Still CAN Do

Bennie asking whatcha talking about?

I was visiting my old work today and had a conversation with a former co-worker. It was a great conversation and we got caught up on several things. However, the part of the conversation that really got me thinking was one part where we talked about some of the things that was stopping this person from getting back to exercising.

At some point I asked “What can you do?”

The person looked at me like I had grown another head, but stopped and chuckled. One of those “ah hah” moments.

I asked if they could you do this or that.

We bantered back and forth a few more times and they told me things they could do. The person started to get pretty excited by the idea of things they could do, while waiting for their operation, versus just sitting and waiting until it happened.

I said you have to block out time for it, when would you do it.

We narrowed it down to after their work day

I then asked if they had made an appointment in their calendar.

They said they had never done that for themself before. The person got all excited and made a recurring appointment for after work Monday through Thursday to start.

The person then started talking about getting their spouse to go with them and sounded pretty excited and upbeat about the whole idea of getting back to the gym and doing things that they could do.

When I left they had a pretty big smile and you could still see the wheels spinning round and round.

Now, I am not patting myself on the back or anything – I simply switched the person’s perception from all the stuff they couldn’t do, to simply look at the stuff they could still do.

However, too many of us (myself included), get so damn caught up in all the negativity around what we can’t do right now, that we forget about all the things we still CAN DO.

So many time when we stop and look at things from the can do perspective, we can do a helluva LOT more than we thought we could.

No it may not always be easy or even painless, but what if you can do it, how would that make you feel?

Stop and think for a minute:

What can you still do?

You might be surprised.

Running Form – Sometimes Things Are Not the Way You Think

I have been reading or re-reading a bunch of books on running lately:

  • Chi Running – Danny Dreyer
  • Natural Running – Danny Abshire
  • Your Best Stride – Jonathan Beverly
  • Master The Art of Running – Malcolm Balk
  • 80/20 Running – Matt Fitzgerald
  • Run – Matt Fitzgerald

Trying to figure out this running thing a bit more and finding out that I like reading them on the iPad than hardcover or on other electronic formats. I think that I have read more books since I started using the iPad than I have in a long time. Oh well, that is a different post, come Harold – get focused back on this running stuff.

Anyways, the other night I was re-reading Master The Art of Running and came across the below:

Which got me to thinking about how much my form has changed since I started using Chi Running back in mid October. It really feels as if I have made a LOT of progress on changing some of how I run.

At least that is what I believed.

Well, today I asked the trainer at Planet Fitness to video me in slow motion to see how much I had actually changed my running style.

I ran at various speeds (6.5 to 9.3 mph and then slowed back down again), because I believed that your form changes as you change speeds. I didn’t try to force things and just let myself run – I figured that would be the best way to see how much of the Chi Running stuff I have incorporated into my running.

  • Align Posture – not really
  • Slight lean – nope
  • Midfoot landing – nope
  • Landing under hips – nope
  • Lifting foot – nope
  • Arms 90* angle – maybe
  • Running everything going forward – nope
  • Cadence 170-180 — 175 spm

Saying that I was shocked at what I saw when I watched the video for the first time would be an understatement. I have watched it several more times since then and each time I can believe how little my running mechanics have changed.

The strange thing is that I felt really good running during this video, nothing hurt, I felt smooth, in control even at the 9.3 mph speed. I thought I was running with a much more of midfoot landing and was leaning into the run. I guess I had a classic case of Faulty Sensory Awareness and wishful thinking that I had actually improved my running form.

I found this old video from 2013 and except that it is not in slow motion, the form is basically identical – no changes. If anything my form now is worse than it was then. Needless to say I am disappointed, but after reading Your Best Stride (before I did the video), I was not as surprised as I would have been before I read that book.

It seems that I have not made a whole helluva lot of progress on improving my stride in over four years.

Well, I don’t have a lot of answers and the video only raises more questions about my running and how I do it.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my stopping running with Bennie was more of the solution than “improving” my running form with the Chi Running program. Which I had a sneaking suspicion might be the case, when I wrote my end of year reflection.

Now to keep moving forward. I have a feeling that Finding Your Best Stride might become the book I refer to more as a reference for improving my running – it seems to be where my body is taking me. Which is okay, after reading and re-reading it again many of the things that the author discusses or recommends makes a great deal of sense to me.

Which means not so much starting over, because Chi Running does a good job of recommending many of the same positive running form features, but more going on slightly different path that better fits who I am and where I am with my running.

It seems that I have a bad case of Faulty Sensory Awareness – oh well that is pretty minor in the overall scheme of things.

In Training vs Just Running

Sometimes we get things confused and in training versus just running is one that usually bites me square in the arse.


Harold hanging around in his not training training mode

What do you mean Harold? Aren’t they the same thing?

You get out and pound the pavement a lot.

Errrr not really.

In Training

In my mind when I am in training, it is to accomplish something. You know prepare for a particular race or distance at a certain pace, attempt a PR — you know prepare the old body to accomplish something that it wouldn’t otherwise. 2017-09-15 08-27-47

It includes running certain paces/miles, including structured workouts, then doing more prehab, rehab, eating better, weight training, purposely embracing a higher level of discomfort while running, read a lot of Internet Articles/Blog posts on how to improve your racing and a bunch of tactics to improve the mental side of my running. I guess it comes down to pushing my running outside of that comfortable bubble that I have made for myself.

Just Running

When I am just running (which is what this year has primarily been). I just run. I tend to run at comfortable paces, don’t worry about hitting pace goals, if I have a great day and go faster than usual it is an accident. I half-heartedly do a little prehab, minimal rehab, eat what I want (when I want), don’t read much about running and run comfortably (unless Bennie decides to do a vehicle interval). If I miss a day or two of running (or more), it really doesn’t matter, running is more about relieving stress than beating on the body.

Run Summary 2017-08-20 21-13-45

When I just run – there really is not any planning to the running – just go out the door do what I feel like that day and attempt to get somewhere between 30-40 miles a week in – not that I have been all that successful doing that over the past 3-4 months.

Moving Forward

So maybe it is time for me to get my arse in gear and get back into more of a training mode now that things in New Hampshire are starting to wind down. I know that I am no where near being in racing shape for a 5K or Half marathon, but I do want to do both before the end of the year.

I signed up for the Millinocket Half Marathon in December (early in the year) and there are always a bunch of 5K’s that I can do in the area between now and the end of the year.  Other than the Millinocket Half Marathon, I do not have anything planned or races that I really want to get ready for.

It almost seems as though my piss and vinegar, err motivation has been sucked dry after the long-arse summer.

Lots of Questions

  • Maybe my best bet is to race myself back into shape, with a bunch of 5K’s?
  • Do I train for the half and keep running 5Ks?
  • Am I even all that interested in running a half right now?
  • Do I really want to race/train or keep just running through the rest of the year to get a better base in and then go into training mode in 2018?
  • How about some trail races thrown in, although most of the big ones are done there are still more than a few left to get ready for.

As life slows down a little and I actually can get into a routine that is more conducive to training, it seems that I have to think a little more about where I want my running to go. After all, I “might” have a little more time to “just do it” now that my retirement is a part of the equation.

All I know is that I want to get back to participating in the local running community after dropping off the face of the earth over the summer, well actually the past year.

However, I think I have clarified for me the difference between “in training” and “just running”. Something that I needed to do, because I was really sort of in between the two – training for nothing, but doing more than just running.

I think that is something that a lot of runners need to clarify for themselves and once they do it might surprise them what they are actually doing versus what they thought they were doing.

hmmm a lot to think about and time figure out where I want to go with my running for the rest of the year. Next year will take of itself – I think :-).

Running Log Spreadsheet Template

Over the course of the past couple of months I have been asked by others on Twitter and Google+ what I was using for my log that you see in so many of my Running Log posts. It is a Google Docs spreadsheet that was in the Google Docs templates gallery by Jimmy Daly, that I modified to meet my needs and wants.

Sorry about the delay on getting this out, but life got in the way and I have been tweaking this a little bit over the course of the past couple of day and wanted to make sure everything worked before I sent it out into the wild blue world of the Internet.


Everything should work, but I don’t make any guarantees that it will, I am not a spreadsheet guru, but know just enough to be dangerous.  I have left in my stuff from this year figuring you can use them as sort of a “how to use” this spreadsheet.

Here is the link to the document Running Log Spreadsheet. Once there if you like what you see and want a copy – all you have to do is go to FILE —> Make A Copy —> fill in the new name of the document.  You will probably have to be signed into Google in order to do this. If you are not familiar with Google Docs, you can go to FILE – Download As and go from there.

Even though I use an online log (DailyMile) to log my running, I like this one for its simplicity and how it looks when I screenshot it and put in my daily running log blog post. Maybe it is something that you are looking for and you can modify it to meet your own personal needs.

I hope that you find this helpful and useful and if you do have questions, I will try to help you with it, but like I said I make no guarantees or warranties with regard to this spreadsheet or how you use it.

What are Your Winter Training Plans?

What are your running goals for December to the end of March?  What are you going to do to achieve those goals?  Are you going to find one of those “canned” programs and follow that, get a coach or just wing-it?

I really believe that these are questions we all struggle with as runners – how we create a training plan to meet those goals. We all have different goals, wants, needs, abilities and how we attain them is often a journey full of highs/lows, and injuries that we work through to get where we want to be.

  • How do you go about planning and implementing your running program?

Here are some of my views:

Running Coach

The best way in my opinion is to have a running coach who works with you daily to tweak and adjust your running plan as necessary based on your current condition, injuries, weather forecasts and other factors that a coach can factor into a training plan, would be a good great thing. However, unless you are with some kind of a track club or in school, coaching of this sort is difficult to find and/or expensive. It would be the best way to go, but is not available to most of us.

  • Does it matter whether the coach is an online coach and someone who coaches you face to face?

I don’t know the answer to that question because I have not had experience with either one (since I left high school). What do you think?

Canned Running Program

We have all started one of the canned race prep schedules that are in our apps, in running how-to books, running magazines, or the ones that you find online. You know those ones which promise to help you finish or improve your times in a race from 5K to Marathons and beyond.

  • Have you wondered if they really do work?

I really don’t know because I have never, ever finished a canned running program since I began running so many years ago. I start off with all these great intentions to go through X program, because it seems to fit the direction I am trying to go with my running and “by gum and tarnation” I do want to get better and not be injured while getting to X and buy into the hype.

  • These program probably work better for newer or runners who need the added structure to their running, but as runners mature in running, do they continue to need those levels of structure?

Many of these running programs are very nicely laid out in great detail and can become rather complicated. On this day you will run this amount of miles, at this pace and your weekly total should be X, if you don’t do X, then do Y or Z, and then A.

What happens when life gets in the way of the training plan for that day or week and it throws off the entire schedule. After all – as important as running is to us, there are other things that do come before putting on your running shoes and going for that 20 miler or the 2 hour track workout every Tuesday.

These programs are not known for their flexibility and that is where I really dislike a canned running program.  If I want to do speedwork on Friday instead Tuesday and my long run on Wednesday instead of Friday, it really messes up trying to stay up with a canned running program and making all the changes to ensure that you are still following that running plan.

I guess I am just not very good at following the rules all the time.

I know many of them say don’t sweat it if you miss or change something here or there, but we do, it is in many of our natures to sweat it and it is also a confidence thing. If the “expert” who designed your running program says you are supposed to be here doing X on week 6 of the program and you are not because life got in the way, you get stressed. Then many runners try to “catch-up” and end up injured and don’t meet their goals.

Problems with Canned Programs

I have problems with the canned running programs, mainly because I am an ornery old fart who just wants to do it his way, instead of the way that someone else thinks. Yes I have a good idea of what I want out of running and have a pretty good what I have to do to get there. I am pretty sure that I can figure this out without some damned “expert’s” idea of how fast or far I should be running on next Tuesday, based on how my body is really feeling, not an artificial number based upon what?

  • Does anyone else feel that way too?

Maybe those people who are putting together these preplanned running programs are a hell of a lot smarter than I am, ran more, ran faster, have more experience running injury free, but they do not know me or you, our strengths, weaknesses, current fitness level, preferences, provide appropriate feedback and all those other factors that go into an individual training plan – they can’t.

So what do we do?


I have a feeling that this is what many of us do – just wing-it. Yes we have a pretty good idea of what we need to do in order to run or run a faster 5k, 10K half/full marathon or whatever your running goal is. Then we just go run enough to get to where we want to go.  We log what we do, think about how  we are doing, look at how/why we are getting injured, buy a new pair of shoes, even when the old ones were fine, tweak here or there as necessary and just keep running.

Not very scientific, but pretty uncomplicated, very flexible and tends to work for more experienced runners, but not so good for new runners or those who need specific training guidelines to help them through their training regimen.

My Experience

In my experience, canned running program (paper or computer) do help by giving pretty consistent guidelines – most of the canned training programs have many similarities (long runs, tempo runs, recovery days, a day of rest and speed work, etc.), the biggest difference often being the recommended miles/pace on a given day.

From what I have seen is that most runners eventually put together a program for themselves that is flexible and can:

  • accommodate last minute changes that happen in real life;
  • the bain of all runners – injuries; or
  • when you just feel like something different
  • listen to what your body needs

Is this how you set up your training program? You have it in your head what you need to do and then adjust your actual running based upon life, how the training is actually going and how your body feels. This is how I have trained for several years and varying degrees of success.

My Training Plan

This year I want to do it a little differently, instead of just having my training plan only in my head I am writing it down. So here is my training program for December through the end of March.

  • HAVE FUN WITH MY RUNNING – that is the most important thing
  • Run 15-30 miles per week – closer to 30 as we get to March.
  • No more than 2 hard runs per week – one tempo and one fartlek or speed workout
  • Have a long run every week that is more than 5 miles, but no more than 8 miles at an easy pace
  • Run no more than 13 days in a row before a rest day
  • Once every two weeks run without a timing device
  • Run on trails/dirt when possible
  • Find 1 or 2 races and see how you do
  • If injured figure out why you got injured and do something different
  • When really sick don’t run, slightly sick give it a try
  • Walk at least 2.0 miles every day in addition to any running
  • Cross-train if you feel like it (snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, etc.)
  • Lift weights  2x per week (even though they suck – it helps)
  • Weigh self every day when I get up
  • Eat mostly organic food and cut back on chips to once per week. Limit sweets to reasonable amount daily.
  • Sleep around 8 hours a day

The biggest thing is to just run without getting injured.

This is my training program for the next 5 months or so. Yes it is a winter maintenance running program meant to get my baseline running back, loose about 20 more pounds and get me ready for Spring and running 5K to 10K races through June.

Running faster and further will come if I follow those things and listen to what my body is trying to tell me (which has always been a problem – I usually just run through pain or discomfort until it becomes an injury).

In March I will re-evaluate everything and see where my fitness and running really is and start a program to focus on improving my 5K times to my long-term goal of under 20:00 minutes.  I have purposely set my 5K goal very high, but in my opinion an attainable goal if everything goes right over the next year?

What is Your Running Plan?

To me unless you have a coach (online or F2F) and if you do I am jealous, using canned programs are a great way to give you ideas on how to get where you want to go, but you are the one that has to implement your own running program.

  • What is your training training program going to look like for December through March – have you thought about it or are you just going to wing-it?

Let me know, I am interested in what other runners are going to do this winter and how you are planning your training.

The reality is that

right now I just want to have fun with my running and enjoy the fact that I am running again. Gotta remember slow and steady, slow and steady will keep me running, until I build up the base I need and loose the flubber that needs to go away.

I wish you all the best in developing your personal running plan, I know that I am really anxious to see how well mine works over the winter.

Now to go out for a run.