I treated myself to a 13.6 miler yesterday and found out why training (or should I say running, playing, or whatever you want to call it because I'm not sure anything I do can be called training) in the snow, as opposed to say, a warm beach in southern California or Florida, is better for your form. I know, lots of people would love to trade snowy roads for sunny beaches. But truthfully, I love the snow. I always have. And I would miss it if it weren't here. So instead of dreaming of a warm run, or staying inside depriving myself of vitamin D, I embrace the cold and snow. And I've found a way to turn the slick stuff to my advantage.
Pepper and I started at the Peninsula Trail head on the Tow Path and headed north. It was a beautiful 28 deg F day with the snow falling lightly and quiet, just quiet. The trail had a compacted snow base of maybe an inch, and a light, half inch covering of fluff from the night before. Absolutely perfect!! We started downstream and started to get into our groove. After letting her off leash, I was able to get into my stride and enjoy the day. I had to put her back on when we saw a herd of deer or crossed a road, but that was infrequent. So, the tranquility allowed me to pay attention to me. Something I like to do by the way (too egocentric?). And I realized I was pushing off with my right foot. I noticed this because, when you run on a slippery surface, you will loose your footing, just ever so slightly, if you push with your toes. Now, I knew I was prone to this because of the blisters that show up on my right little piggie, or maybe the long toe, when I run on wet asphalt or concrete. But running in the snow really made it evident. Without snow, I wouldn't notice the problem until the skin got tender and by then it was too late - the blister would be there by that time. The snow gave me immediate feedback about my problematic push, and I think I learned (a little bit) to control this by picking my feet up instead of pushing off. Something I try to do but, in perfect conditions you can get away with a sloppy form. It still doesn't seem the natural thing to do for some reason - lift the foot as opposed to pushing off. But then again, paying attention to the feedback your feet are giving you with every step has got to be the way to go. The tickle/sting of a blister forming is a very powerful and informative indication that something is wrong and should be corrected. The beauty and truth of barefoot running is that you get that information immediately.
We got to Station Road and decided to turn back. The total came to more than a half marathon! We made it in a negative slit, UPHILL! Our longest run to date. It was a great way to celebrate the dawning of my new age group. Based on yesterdays run, I need to cut 3 min/mile to get to 8 mi/mile for Boston. I'm slow, but happy.
Born to run? Damn right! Rain, snow, sleet, sun, whatever you've got.