Winter running presents numerous challenges: snow, ice, cold temperatures and motivation to deal with all of the above.
If it weren't for the opportunities to run with others determined to maintain their fitness through the dark days of winter, we runners would probably hit the couch more than the road.
It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to join a fun and motivated group of runners who meet every Saturday morning at 8 to put in the miles. Many of the runners are training for a spring marathon or half-marathon.
Lest you think this is a small, somewhat insane, smattering of the population, take note that on any given Saturday there are between 15 and 20 runners heading out in all temperatures and trail conditions.
According to Matt Kelly, who has put together a marathon/half-marathon training program for all levels, "This is a group to motivate you: When there are others out there, it gets you out in 5-degree weather, or when it's snowing and you think there's no way you could possibly run.
"Before you know it, you're finished and have started your morning out with a nice, long run. It's a great way for people to build up their fitness."
Although many of the Saturday morning group are training for a spring race, there are some who just come out to stay fit and run with others. A few have decided over the past few months to go for the marathon. After putting in the miles, they are feeling confident in their abilities.
Stephanie Hunsinger used to train by herself, and got lonely and burned out in the process.
"I love the camaraderie, and just being with others has infused me and gotten me excited about working out again. I actually signed up for the training program with the intention of doing the Moab half-marathon, but now I'm starting to see that the marathon is definitely within my ability," Hunsinger said. She plans to run Moab in March and continue her training for the Colorado Marathon in May.
The full program is a 26-week training plan beginning with a 3-mile run and ending with the completion of the full marathon six months later.
Depending on your mileage coming in, this time frame can be shortened and individualized. The beginner plan uses a 3-minute to 1-minute run/walk methodology, which effectively doubles the distance you can do by eliminating much of the fatigue that comes with continuous running.
In addition to the Saturday long runs, it is recommended that you run two or three additional days during the week - anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour - and do an additional one to two days of other cross training.
According to Kelly, "For the first-time marathoner, this is a 'finish the marathon' training with no preconceived time goals, although there are pacing prediction tools available for those who want them."
Matt will adjust the program to meet individual needs and goals.
Steve Short never really thought about running competitively until about four or five years ago. He plans to train for the Colorado Half-Marathon in May.
"The half is a distance that still has some challenge to it, but doesn't require the same degree of time commitment as the marathon. Finding the time to train for a marathon is really challenging for me at this point," Short said.
"The half-marathon is a comfortable way of still feeling like I'm doing something challenging."
The prevailing incentive amongst the group is the camaraderie. When you're chatting and running with others, the time and miles just fly by, and at the end you feel a real sense of accomplishment and still have your entire weekend ahead of you.
For more information on the program, visit www.go-dmt.org or contact me at runswim55 @gmail.com.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.