Friday, December 20, 2013

The Christmas Blues- Upstate New York and How to Train in the Dead of Winter

For all those out there, you probably have already seen some significant snow and icky weather to make any commute a headache waiting to happen. Currently, I am living in lovely Upstate New York a mecca for lake-effect snow and cold harsh winter conditions. Luckily, nowadays we have wonderful companies that are producing running/outdoor apparel that can function well in really cold temps.  My sponsor Mammut, has some of the best winter running apparel out there!  Because their apparel has their roots in Alpine performance, you know that the gear is going to last and will keep you warm regardless of the conditions. Below will be my "ode to Mammut MTR", a review of their current winter items I have come to love for my winter racing and training and why they are so awesome!

The First top that I will Investigate is the Kala Patar Jacket Hoody.

*Priced at $149 this jacket does everything you could ask for out of a warm and super-functional mid/outer layer. I love hoodies for running in Upstate New York because of the wind-chill and precipitation that often times the hood is able to add that extra 5-10 degrees of warmth your head is missing.  The Kala Patar Hoody has a great warm wind-blocking thermal fleece called Field Sensor. The jacket also has the following features: Combination of two different functional materials,
Waffle backing retains heat, durable and fast-drying outside, soft and warm inside, Elastic inserts for optimum freedom of movement, Thin and elastic material in the hip area to avoid creating too much bulk under a climbing harness or in the pants, 1 chest pocket with zip, Close-fitting hood, Lots of freedom of movement, Flatlock, non-protruding seams, Thumb loop made for comfort and durability
and an Athletic Fit (As mentioned from 

If I had to some up what makes this jacket such a core piece it would be

Range of Movement    This stretch top features a great balance of stretchy fabric mixed with the Field Sensor fleece which gives you the proper range of movement desired in running.  The piece moves with you as an extension of the body rather than some piece of fabric that restricts your movement.  The Kala Patar Tech Hoody gives you that smooth flow in running and really excels. From trail running, road running, to snowshoe running, this top is hard to be beat. 

Warmth/Insulation    This top is one of my best that I own in this department. Not only is this hooded jacket light weight and can easily be layered and packed away, but the hoody absolutely thrives in terms of warmth.  Most cold blustery winter days, I just need a technical short sleeve or long sleeve shirt to and the jacket and I am all set. The waffle fleece outer shell blocks some wind making it a wind-resistant top and the hood acts as a great buffer for extremely cold snaps in Upstate which occur frequently this time of year.  I never over-heat in this top and with a proper layering depending on the harsh conditions, this top never goes stale. Also great for snowshoe running as the snow that you kick up on most regular thermal mid layer running tops absorb the snow as it melts and re-freezes. With the Kala Patar top, this does not occur which means you stay nice and dry for the whole duration of a snowshoe run and after.

Versatility     This top is my favorite mid layer/jacket from Mammut for high aerobic activities. Snowshoe Running this top excels, cold long training runs it excels, short quick fartlek runs it excels, and even as a comfortable top to wear around town. Mammut's category of "Alpine Performance" is one of the best and most versatile categories in their line of products. This top is easily packable, able to be comfortably layered with and fits well under soft or hard shell jackets, and provides exceptional warmth.  It can act as a core Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter piece with the right levels of layering. The fleece is also tear resistant and does not feel like it will easily pill which is something we often notice with other outdoor companies and their fleece jackets. Great for running, snowshoeing, hiking, ice climbing, rock climbing, going out on a boat, you name it this top can handle it.

Weight    To sum it up, this top is light but not too thin.

Another great top Mammut has been making is the MTR 141 Thermo Half Zip. This is your nice and warm half zip with reflective Mammut logos on the chest and shoulder as well as a cozy internal fleece and nice stretch warm jersey fabric.  What makes the MTR 141 Thermo top competitive with other brands is that it seems to handle the STRETCH MOBILITY category the best I have seen out of a thermal run top of the same caliber.  Mammut's is warmer than most that would have this level of stretch. It is just a wonderful top that does such a nice job of keeping you warm. I am always excited to see where our Mammut products continue to head.  I am excited to see them continue to morph and adapt and I think that Mammut is on the right course.

Snowshoe Season---Jan 18th--It BEGINS!
My first snowshoe race will be the 18th at the Cockadoodle Shoe 10k, a qualifier for Nationals held in Saranac, NY-in the Adirondack outskirts. I am really excited to get out onto the trails once we get some more snow since it has all but melted due to the warm weather and rain.  I always look forward to this time of year and I am excited to see how things go for me this season.  I think that I have the potential again to make the National team and maybe surprise some people because we will always have those doubters.  I am building off of my best Fall season of racing yet.  I think if all things go according to plan, I will really put myself out there in the National forums for snowshoe, trail and ultra running.  It might be that time I "crest the summit" into the next level of professionalism and publicity.

Training for December
Training has been pretty solid this December.  No racing, only time on the feet out amongst the steep hills of Cortland, NY.  I have not had as much in terms of quality training or high mileage but I take December as my rest month. If I feel good, I run, If I don't, then well...I jog easy.  I have averaged probably 60-high 80's for mileage this month depending on my time schedule and at the least have been averaging 10 miles a day or so.  I have run more doubles this winter so far than what I have been used to but this has helped keep my legs fresh and also get in the desired amount of mileage without too much fatigue. In the winter, my focus is on running more by effort than time and mileage. If  I run for 45 minutes that is okay!  I can always get a longer run in later in the week or can have more uptempo days to get in some quality work.  With winter you have darkness, cold temps, icky precipitation and just the holiday rush.  It is more than enough to deter us from consistent training and that is just fine as long as we make an effort to still remain active during the winter and do not hibernate like the bears.  I like snowshoe running for this reason. With snowshoe running, I am out in beautiful snow-covered settings and get an incredible workout in less time than a simple road run.  Less miles and the same if not better level of fitness.  Because snowshoe running is very strength-based, I recommend some road running or treadmill running to just turn-over the legs to keep our muscle fibers firing on all cylinders. It is important to keep us limber so that once the snow thaws and spring races are on the horizon, we are ready to go.

2014 "A" Race Tentative Schedule

1. Mad City 100k- Madison, WI ---USA 100k Road Champs and Qualifying for USA 100k Team

2. Cayuga Trails 50 miler- Ithaca, NY--USA 50 Mile Trail Champs

3. Tussey Mountainback 50-USA 50 mile Road Champs

4. JFK 50 Mile--Most Historic 50 Miler Ever!