Monday, February 2, 2009

Tips From the Coach of The Road to Boston Group

Mark Buciak will run his 30th consecutive Boston on Monday, April 20, so besides being an amazing athlete, he's also just about as knowledgeable as you can be on marathon training through frigid Chicago winters. As the Program Director and Coach for a training group in town called The Road To Boston, Mark helps Chicagoans make their marathon dreams come true--no matter how bitterly cold it gets. I chatted with him today about winter running.

1. The cold makes you stronger. "Come April or May you’re going to be in better shape if you train outdoors," Mark says. That's because your body works harder to stay warm, dodge ice and traverse snow piles. Your pace may be slower on outdoor runs, but don't stress: It makes you stronger.

2. Warming up is crucial when you run outside. "Your first mile should be your absolute slowest, jog or walk it. If you're an 8 minute miler, start with a 9 or 9:30 mile."

3. Dress to be noticed. Motorists are never looking for runners, but that's especially true on dark winter mornings and evenings. Put on a reflector or bright jacket so cars can spot you.

4. Don't expect temperature to predict how you'll feel.
"It depends on the individual. And it depends on the individual on the given day," Mark says. "I have days where 30 degrees feels worse than 2 degrees."

5. Don't run outside seven days a week. Go indoors for some cross-training, and when you do, get on the rowing machine. "It's the best workout," he says. "You'd have to stay on the elliptical for four hours to get your heart rate as high as it feels after five minutes on the row machine."

Mark's program--which meets Wendesday nights for tempo workouts and Saturday morning for long runs--is open to runners of all abilities training for any Spring marathon. He's working with sub-three hour speed-demons and six hour joggers. Besides Boston, his runners are gearing up for the Big Sur Marathon, the Cleveland Marathon and others. Sign up at Photo grabbed from Still Life on Flickr. Posted by Liz

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