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Chicago Running Review

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Breaking out of mental cabin fever

As a native Southerner, I don’t think I’ll ever fully adjust to what happens in the Midwest in winter. It’s not just the extreme weather – occasional polar vortex aside. You can get used to that. What always astounds me is how the people will just cope with the cold, wind and snow year after year.

In eastern North Carolina this week, school openings were delayed when temperatures dipped – gasp – into the upper 20s. In Chicago meanwhile, I knew a handful of runners who still managed to get their scheduled workout in at 13 below. Here, people plow, scrape, layer and just deal with it. Sinclair Lewis, a Minnesotan, probably said it best: “Winter is not a season in the North Middlewest,” he wrote in “Main Street.” “It is an industry.”

CES Winter Warriors brave the elements.

Maybe that’s why every January I set out on a new running endeavor. There’s enough to do here no matter the weather, and trying something new and unfamiliar is my own way of coping. Two years ago I took on CrossFit; last year, I trained steadily through the cold for a spring marathon for the first time. Call it beating out the mental cabin fever.

With that in mind, here are some opportunities – at Fleet Feet Sports and beyond – to try something new this winter:

  • Winter group runs – As a few brave souls showed this week, there’s no such thing as too cold to run. Fleet Feet Sports hosts group runs year round through the dead of winter, with a run almost every day of the week. In the mean time, neighborhood running groups are going full steam. In the South Loop, Scout runs every Tuesday evening, and 3Run2 meets in Logan Square every Thursday, to name a couple.
  • Training programs – Every weekend morning, Chicago Endurance Sports runners, walkers, pacers and coaches are out on the path with a half marathon in their sights in less than a month. The next CES running program kicks off in March to train for the Soldier Field 10 Mile. Meanwhile, Fleet Feet Sports’ Boston365 Training Program is gearing up to train both Boston Bound runners and those hoping to qualify in the future.
  • Fleet Feet Sports Pint Night – Why settle for just a run? Our monthly Pint Nights follow a workout with a party. On Jan. 20, we’re hosting a Craft Winter Blitz at all three locations, with beer, warm food and giveaways. Next month, we’re celebrating a love for running with a Cupid Dash on Feb. 14.
  • CrossFit – Gyms are crowded with New Year’s resolutions still going strong. If row after row of treadmills aren’t for you, may I suggest CrossFit. The intense, challenging workouts are perfect for runners who want to improve strength and conditioning as well as speed as endurance. We suggest CrossFit River North, Atlas CrossFit in Old Town, CrossFit Chicago in Lincoln Park and Hardware CrossFit in Lincoln Square.
  • Running University – Keep an eye out for our running seminar program at Fleet Feet Sports. We’ve already set dates for our free Good Form Running clinics through next month, but soon we’ll add seminars on a range of running topics – including training, nutrition, recovery and race strategy. Then in early March, we’ll kick off a free eight-week speedwork training program leading up to the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle and the Ravenswood Run 5K.

- Brian Hudson

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