The arrival of the solstice officially means winter is here with the promise of three long months of cold, snow, ice and early darkness.
This can be the most challenging and difficult time of year to keep the motivation going for runners.
I find myself pining for the dirt trails and the solitude of running in the backcountry minimally clad in shorts and a T-shirt.
Nonrunners might say, Why dont you just hang up the running shoes and embrace those wonderful winter sports like skiing or ice skating?
It isnt that we runners dont participate in and enjoy other sports, it is just that we feel somehow incomplete if we dont run regularly.
Given that, how does a runner keep training all winter long?
Here in Durango, we are very fortunate to have the Animas River Trail right in our backyard, available and plowed all winter long. Even though I long for the sweet singletrack of spring, summer and fall, I am ever thankful for the convenience of this city amenity.
Local runner Ilana Stern has spent the past few winters training for spring marathons, which require a regimen that includes progressively longer runs each week over the course of the winter months.
Winter running in Durango is pretty easy for two reasons. The Animas River Trail is always plowed and sunny days help the snow melt faster off the plowed surfaces.
If you can get to the River Trail, you can run.
There are times when even the River Trail is snowpacked and sharing icy roads with cars can be intimidating.
Over the years I have tried different apparatus to help with traction on snowy surfaces.
One such device resembles tire chains and can be worn over any shoe for extra grip and traction on slippery surfaces. However, I found that these altered the weight and feel of my running shoes and broke quite easily.
Last winter I made some screw shoes out of an old pair of trail shoes. I had gotten the idea after reading an article by ultrarunner Matt Carpenter in Runners World magazine.
I attached 3/8-inch sheet metal screws around the perimeter of the soles and heel of each shoe.
These worked great, especially on snowpacked areas with some ice.
When the screws around the edges encountered dry patches, it was not uncomfortable because there are no screws under the balls of the feet. Desperation fosters ingenuity, and this simple solution for safe winter running is a fine example of that.
Durangoan Kristina Siladi has had success with crampon spikes for her shoes in icy conditions.
I just try to be smart about winter running. Siladi said. I try to stick to the River Trail if the roads are slick, and I will be finishing in the dark.
If the roads are clear, I run with a headlamp and a flashing light clipped to my shoe for visibility.
I also keep in mind that sometimes the weather can shorten a run or slow you down, so I try not to stress about it.
No excuses now runners.
With the River Trail, screw shoes and plenty of warm running clothes, you can tackle all the conditions that winter throws your way.
Get out there and pound some pavement or snow for your sanity.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org