Tips for Running on Snow and Ice

My training for the Boston Marathon is in a funk. No sooner had I signed up, I hurt my ankle. Nothing broken, but sidelined for a couple weeks. “Not running” is tough during marathon training. Give me bone chilling, snot freezing, long runs any day, but please don’t let me nurse an ankle when its Marathon season, the skies are blue and the air is crisp!

If you are training for the Boston Marathon, you need to start training in the dark winter days, when the ground is still frozen and covered with snow or ice. You could squeeze a couple short, mid-week runs on the treadmill, but you need to do the longer weekend runs outdoors – even if there is snow and ice on the ground.

Here are a few pointers (and forms) for running on various snow and ice conditions. These are based on my personal experience of innumerable winter runs; btw, I have had my fair share of slips and fall in the snow, including a nasty head injury and a cracked rib, four weeks before last year’s marathon.

Important: If there is any amount of snow or ice on the roads or trails – RUN SLOW! Speed work can stay for another day. For the long run, just plan on clocking the miles, and making it back without getting hurt! This is not the time for heroics, just go for the distance (not time)!

More than Four Inches of Snow
Try your luck on roads if they are clear. Remember, the plows only clear a narrower lane for vehicles and there may not be enough shoulder for you to run safely on. And if the snow is piled high on the sides, you may not have a safe place to escape if you see a truck barreling close.

Instead, put off running and instead go for a long walk. Or wait to see if the weather will clear by the next day. There is always tomorrow.
Continue reading “Tips for Running on Snow and Ice”

Boston Half Marathon 2007

Boston Half Marathon 2007
time: 1:49:31
pace: 8:22/mile (5.11/km)

Was a minute 56 secs slower than my Feb Half Marathon in Hyannis. 😦 And my pace was off by 9 seconds!

In Feb for Hyannis, I was in training for the Boston Marathon and at the top of my training. This half marathon was to be a practise run for the New York City Marathon in Nov. But I did not get into the NYC lottery, making it difficult to get motivated. And I suffered from heel pain all summer (now you know why I wrote all those heel pain articles) and could not run on my heels for most of my training. Today was the first time in months that I ran any distance on my heels ~ and transiently felt a stab of pain at about mile 6.

Enough excuses!

And wow, what a scenic but tough course! The course runs through Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a chain of nine parks linked by parkways and waterways. My friends who ran it last year had correctly warned, “it is very hilly!” At the halfway, we run through the Franklin Park Zoo, past the giraffe pens, birding area, tropical animal trails and the alligator area; before turning back around. Sorry did not pause to enjoy! :-))

No excuses! A fabulous run and I am very pleased. In this off-season, needed to maintain form and was expecting to do better than a 9:00 minute pace. And did way better than that! Now I rest for a few months and restart training in Jan for either the Boston or London Marathon in April 2008! Yaay! Run ARUN Run!

Foot and Toe Extension

Continues the Heel Pain and Plantar Fasciitis Series.

For most of the day, our feet are bound within stiff shoes and many of the soft tissues within the feet are infrequently used. This is a simple yet very effective exercise to stretch the heel and underlying plantar fascia … and bring life to those toes!

If you have heel pain, perform this stretch as you wake up and place your feet on the floor. This can also be performed while sitting in the office chair or on the couch.

  • Sit on a chair and place your ankle over the opposite knee.
  • Grip toes and gently pull them back towards the knee, while holding the ankle to prevent it from moving.
  • Feel the stretch in the sole of the foot all the way to the heel.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat three times for each foot.

See related articles:
Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis
Heel and Achilles Tendon Stretch
This article and archives are available at

Heel & Achilles Tendon Stretch

Continuing my Health & Fitness Series, as published in our patient newsletter, Aches & Joints.

Following up on the Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis) article from a few weeks earlier, here is the first of a series of exercises that can help recovery from heel pain.

This is a wonderfully effective warm-up before running, going for a walk, or participating in any sports. Or just do this stretch because you want to. This stretches the Achilles tendon as well as the calf muscles. Runners especially need to do stretch these before heading out and after returning from a run too.

You don’t need to go to a health club or gym to do this. Stretch in your office or waiting in the coffee line, or even during a walk in the park.

Enjoy and Share with others. Live well!
heel achilles tendon stretch, Meg Vitter

  • When out for a walk, find a wall to lean against. Even a tree will do.
  • Stand an arms length from the wall.
  • Place the leg to be stretched about 12-18 inches behind you.
  • Keep your toes pointed forward and slightly inward.
  • Bend your arms and gradually lean towards the wall.
  • Make sure your leg is straight and the heel of your back leg is pressed to the floor.
  • Feel the stretch in the calf and heel of the back leg.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and return to starting position.
  • Repeat three times for each leg.

Stretches demonstrated by Meg Vitter of Boston, MA.

Also read:
Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis
Precautions to Take Before Starting New Exercises
Article archives are available at

Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis

I had previously published this article in our patient newsletter Aches & Joints.

If you are a runner, you probably worried about Plantar Fasciitis. Early in the summer when researching this article, I got a mild case of heel pain that left me distraught. My training for the Boston Half Marathon (Oct 7th 2007) was guarded and I am still tentative with my heel. But doing all the exercises linked at the end, I am good to go. Continue reading “Treating Heel Pain or Plantar Fasciitis”

Yoga of Running: Tough Mile 1

running yoga distance running, marathons
You’d think, after completing several marathons, running comes easy to me. Well, once I get going, I do enjoy it. But getting started on any run is always tough. Particularly Mile 1. I am not talking about a 1 mile sprint. Just the first mile of a long or short run. Its a tough mile!

I have stretched; sipped water and I head out the door. Reset the stopwatch; push off and go.

In about a 100 meters, I am panting! My mouth is wide open and my chest is heaving. My breathing is very labored and you could hear my gasps 20 feet away. My legs feel all wrong and my arms are like clumsy appendages. I wonder, are my lungs ok? I really cannot go on for another hour like this.

My legs feel wobbly. No pain, just completely uncoordinated. Like a toddler taking her first steps. Nothing grossly wrong. My feet are not splayed wide like a duck’s. I have the right shoes on and laces are tight. Knees don’t hurt.

My hips reluctantly and erratically swinging forward; pushing my knees ahead – seemingly uncontrollably. Hamstrings fire and decide how far my knee goes. Muscles and tendons in my calf are grudgingly lifting my ankle and projecting the foot forward. My foot is still learning how to land. Unsure where to take the load – should my ankle flex and land on the heel, or on the flat, or on the ball of my foot. Terrain is still alien and the pace, who knows. As my hips swing forward, my opposite arm is swinging back and my hands and fingers seem unsure of what to do. They are itching to do something, just not sure what.

No pain, just that odd feeling inside: this is so damn uncoordinated! So grace-less!

Continue reading “Yoga of Running: Tough Mile 1”

Boston Marathon 2007

Boston Marathon 2007
time: 3:59:17
pace: 9:08/mile

30 minutes faster than my last year’s time of 4:29:18.

Overcome by the gushing support and outpouring of best wishes from all my friends on LJ. Thank you! (WordPress post here.)

Despite all the drinks and four GU Gels I imbibed during the run, I still lost 6 pounds during the race! Resting at home today! My knees are a mess and I can barely walk – but truly satisfied!

The race started slow, with a light drizzle and streams of rain water flowing in the streets. Did not even notice the start line come up till I was over it. Forgot to start my stopwatch, then fumbled with the different functions; it was about 20 – 30 seconds before I got it right! Noticed I was doing 10 min miles for the first three and nearly gave up hope of finishing under 4 hours.

Then the rains stopped and I decided to give it my best shot; and within a few miles I was back on track. At mile 10, I was close to 180 minutes and my 9 min/mile pace. That was a key turning point. From then on I consulted the 4 hour pacing table on my wrist and was consistently tracking 1 or 2 minutes faster. But every water break, gel break (and two bathroom breaks) or stretching for a few seconds would slow me down. And since I was not sure how late I had started my stopwatch, I wanted at least a minute cushion per my watch.

When we turned the corner to face the Four hills in Newton I was still on track. … And after attacking Heartbreak hill … I was still on track! O M G! What a feeling keeping pace running up the hills. Felt like stopping to stretch my legs, but I knew I did not have any spare time. I was so nauseatingly exhausted that at the water stop at mile 23 I took in the water, couldn't drink it and promptly spit it out. That refreshed me as it cleared the bile from my mouth. And I was still within a minute! OMG! I so badly wanted to stop! But knew I was so close!

Then passed Mile 25 marker and the CITGO sign! Turned on Commonwealth Ave. Still a minute ahead of pace!

Felt like dying, but the crowds were thick; four or five deep at least!

Turned on Hereford St and less than half a mile away. Stopped and walked for a few seconds!

Turned on Boylston St! And the wall of spectators! Just had to keep running!

That “Boston Marthon” banner seemed so far away! Tunnel vision!

Just can't stop!

Saw the huge timer at the finish line and knew I could do it! Tried to smile for the cameras at the finish line. Shuffled so I'd land my right foot (with the timing chip) on the center of the timing mat.

Phew, I think I did it!

After a few steps, collapsed to the street, and a volunteer helped me up. Walked a little and collapsed again. And a friend grapped me. I could barely walk!

Met M, checked my final time at a computer station and I was 3:59:17!

O … M … G!

I did it in under 4!

In utter Pain, but with the biggest grin, I hobbled on!

Boston Marathon 2007: 26.2 miles in a Nor'easter!

Boston Marathon 2007: 26.2 miles in a Nor'easter!

We are expecting a Nor'easter here for the Marathon. Not good. Yesterday at the Runner's Expo where we pick up our Bibs, there was trepidation amongst the runners. No one I knew was going to “cancel,” but the question on everyone's mind was: “How do I dress to run in this weather?” My training had gone spectacularly well and I was hoping to finish under 4 hours. Now I will be lucky to just finish! Here is part of the Weather Alert email we received from the organizers:

Weather Advisory – 2007 Boston Marathon
The Boston Athletic Association's medical team recommends the following precautions and advice for participants in Monday's Boston Marathon:

The most up-to-date weather forecast calls for a predicted Spring storm on Monday, including heavy rains (potentially 3 to 5 inches), with the start temperatures in the mid to upper 30's. Wind will likely be East (in the face of the participants for most of the race) in the 20 to 25 mile per hour range, with gusts to as much as 50 miles per hour. This will produce a wind chill index of 25 to 30-degrees Fahrenheit.

Combined with the rain, we are concerned that predicted weather conditions will increase the runners' risks for a condition called hypothermia. As with any athletic competition, as a runner you are assuming the risks inherent with participation. It is your responsibility to be informed about the risks associated with running in the aforementioned conditions, and the risks of injury or illness will increase with these predicted conditions.

But heh! Now is a great time to share a couple of pics from last year's Boston Marathon. My first!

For those unfamiliar, the Boston Marathon is the oldest continuously running marathon, one of the most difficult and the most prestigious! For runners, completing any marathon may be a life long dream, and running Boston is equivalent to touching the Holy Grail (whatever that may be!).

Inexperienced, I started fast and did not account for the initial downhill part. With every step I was jamming by toes against the front of the shoes and could feel blisters and stickiness spreading around my toes. At mile 17.4 we turned the corner and started up the first of four hills in Newton. Here I am at Mile 19. Notice the “Run Arun Run” on my shirt.

Continue reading “Boston Marathon 2007: 26.2 miles in a Nor'easter!”

Hyannis Half Marathon 2007

Back in training for the 111th Boston Marathon on April 16th.

During most of the training, I run alone. But once before the actual race, I like to run a Half Marathon race to prepare for the psychology of participating, testing out newer clothes and shoes, holding myself to a pacing strategy and finally to get the feel of running with crowds (importantly not to let the slower or faster runners make you deviate from your pace).

So this morning I ran the Hyannis Half Marathon in a time of 1:47:35 (pace: 8:13/mile)*. 7 mins faster than my half marathon time last year! Yoo Hoo!

It was a beautiful day to run in Cape Cod. The sun was out and the temperature was a crisp 40 deg F (4 deg C). Running along the sea shore and the lighthouse was sublime. And we dashed past the Kennedy's Compound and the JFK Memorial! The first mile took an agonizing 9 min as the starting crowds thinned out. But i quickly got to my target pace of 8:15 and held it there. The terrain was characterized by constantly rolling hills and after struggling up the gentle inclines I'd dash downhill faster. As we ran uphill along deserted roads, we were all breathing heavily in unison and in synch with our heavy footfalls. We all suffered but kept the pace. I steadily passed others during the entire run – and particularly during the last few miles it was a major psychological boost.

Overall, a superb day and a satisfying run! Now back to the rest of the training.

* For the Marathon my pace would be much slower; hoping to be around 9:30. That would be 45 secs faster than my pace from last year. Lets see how it goes!

… and WoW! A no-picture post!

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