What distance can my child run?

Here are some guidelines and resources for parents to help decide what distance your child can run safely.

Updated July 5th, 2021

Training for a 5K is a great way to get out of the house a few days a week and spend some quality time with your child, spouse or friend.

Putting a race on the calendar also gives everyone something to look forward to.

People say “car time” as a good time to have conversations with your child.

I think “running time” could be even better. Sharing an activity and a goal can help bring you and your child closer together.

Most people have no idea how far should a 7 year old run or how fast can a 4 year old run.

Based on expert recommendations I created these guidelines to help you figure that out.

I must add that you should consult with your pediatrician before you start running with your child.

It’s always better to be safe.

What distance can your child run safely?

Children are born to run and love it. Just look at kids on a playground or at the park.

Running for play and running a set distance are different. While playing, kids often stop and start and mix in other activities.

Running a race requires your child to maintain a sustained effort until they reach the finish line.

Two things to keep in mind when considering how far your child can and should run are:

      • Your child’s health and fitness level
      • Your child’s age

Your child’s health and fitness level

While pediatricians disagree on how much children should run, all agree that children need exercise.

At your child’s next physical let the pediatrician know that your child is interested in running.

This is a good way to start a conversation between your pediatrician and your child.

If your pediatrician makes suggestions or urges caution your child is more likely to be receptive than if these words come from you.

If you do not have an appointment coming up, a quick call is suggested.

I suggest involving your doctor as a best practice. Most parents know all about their child’s health and how active they are.

Fitness and Activity Levels

Fitness and activity tend to go hand in hand.

Active play and sports help keep children’s cardio-vascular systems in good shape.

If your child comes in the house after playing and they are a hot sweaty mess, it’s safe to say they got some exercise.

If your child often plays actively or participates in sports, they have a pretty healthy level of activity.

While your child’s health, fitness and activity level are good indicators of your child’s health, they will let you know when they’ve had enough.

Most young children will run until they are tired.

Older children may be more willing to push themselves.

Your Child’s Age

How far a 12 year old can run and how far a 6 year old can run will be quite different.

children running. kids races, what distance can my child run

Part of this is the higher level of motivation and self control older children tend to have.

We see this in adult runners who push through fatigue and even pain to finish a run or a race.

The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the largest running organization in the US and provides educational materials for running clubs who host youth running programs.

These guidelines address appropriate race distances for children starting at Pre-K and give you some guidance on training and encouraging your child.

The RRCA guidelines recommend that children under 5 participate in kid’s fun runs which are usually under 400 yards.

These “Fun Run” races are often free and part of adult race events. This is a great way for your child to try running in a fun and encouraging environment.

A Fun Run allows your child to participate in a running event with you, but have a race of their own.

RRCA Youth Running Guidelines

These age bracket guidelines from the RRCA should be helpful to you.

  • Children 5 and under should focus on “dash” events that range from a few yards to 400 meters.
  • Children 5 and over, kids fun runs that are a ½ to 1 mile long may be considered, but allow for a combination of running and walking.
  • Children ages 12 and over may want to participate in a 5K run.
  • Children ages 15 and older may want to participate in a 10K to half marathon event.
  • Children 18 and older may want to participate in a marathon or further distance.

The RRCA Guidelines illustrate the progression in distance that most children can achieve.

While every child is different, you should feel comfortable using these guidelines to decide what distance your child should run.

 

Running should be fun. Children should not be pressured into running longer distances than they want to. As any parent knows, it’s not unusual for a child to change their mind in the middle of something.

As adults we know about challenging our limitations and pushing through to the next level. Children often do not have these motivations and just know that “this isn’t fun anymore.”

If your child wants to stop or walk while training or racing you have the difficult task of knowing when to let them have their way.

For pre-teens, the emphasis should be on fun, participation and enjoying the event. The emphasis should not be on competition and attaining goals.

If a young child has a genuine enthusiasm for running, let it grow naturally. They will move up to longer distances as they mature and grow stronger.

As the parent your role should be to guide and encourage your young runner and help them make wise choices about running.

As a rule, young children should not be training to run a “fun run.”

Additional Guidelines

child running distances, What distance can my child run Here are the distances that the Hartford Marathon Foundation (HMF) uses for their youth events.

The HMF organizes dozens of races each year that include youth running events. They have a lot of experience in this area.

Most Fun Runs award a ribbon and sometimes provide a drink and a snack. They usually do not provide a medal or shirt as they are free events.

Some races allow you to register your child ahead of time for the Fun Run, but some only have “day of” registration.

suggested distances for kids, youth running The Healthy Kids Running Series was created by Jeff Long, Founder and President of Pattison Sports Group, to provide kids with a positive, educational, and fun experience in the world of running.

They help parents set up youth running programs in their own towns and provide these youth running distance recommendations.

The program emphasizes fun and encourages weekly organized runs for children. You can find out if there is a program in your town at their website. You can also find out how to set up a program in your town.

Angela Bekkala wrote an article for Active.com: How to Get Kids Ready for Their First 5K It’s a quick read and offers additional advice.

Your child wants to run a 5K with you. What should you do?

  • Do not put any pressure on them to achieve a certain goal
  • Forget about your own time. You need to run their pace
  • Be prepared to walk and always be positive and encouraging
  • You are mom or dad, not their coach, so always be supportive

If your child has a positive experience with you at their first 5K, you may have a new running buddy. What could be better than that?

Make sure to emphasize the fun race environment. Make them feel like one of the other runners by introducing them to your friends and including them in conversations. Everyone loves a new runner, and your child will thrive on the positive energy at a race.

Some 5K races are adult events with loud music and drinking. If you run one of these 5Ks with your child it may be a good idea to only stay for a while after the race.

Competitive Running for your Child

Around the age of 12, the RRCA says children may participate in 5K races. Moving from fun runs to a 5K race should be your child’s decision. The emphasis should still be on fun and participation.

When a child starts running 5K races on a regular basis, they may become competition. A child may compete with themselves, friends or you.

Competition is good and running competitively teaches many life lessons. As the parent it is up to you to guide expectations and be supportive.

It is important for children to understand that few of us ever come in first place. Most of us have friends who finish ahead of us. As adults we understand this and our self worth and image are not dependent on how we do at a race.

For a pre-teen or teenager, winning and loosing can become the focus of running. As a parent, it is your role to focus more on the fun and participation in the event and running community, and focus less on competition.

As your child runs more races and improves their running, competition can become more important.

Setting goals and training to achieve them are important life lessons. If a child sticks with running and maintains a healthy enthusiasm for the sport, your guidance can help them set healthy goals and expectations of themselves.

When your child moves from the 1-mile fun run to the 5K, let them guide you. You can see when they may be pushing too hard and you can see when they should push for the next goal. As the more experienced runner, you can guide them.

Moving to longer distances

As always, the age and the health of your child are your main considerations. Around age 15 it should be okay for your child to run a 10K or half-marathon.

Many marathons will not allow anyone under age 18 to run. Some will allow teens to run with a parent’s permission.

If your child has run a few 5Ks and enjoyed themselves, then it should be okay to try a 10K. While a child may not need to train for a fun run or a 5K, they should do training for a 10K and definitely for a half-marathon.

In your child’s mid-teens, running 5Ks and 10Ks should be sufficient. In the later teens an occasional half-marathon and perhaps a marathon should be okay.

As your child moves up to longer distances, you child should train with you or a coach at school. Fitness and conditioning become more important at longer distances in order to avoid injury and to run successfully.

If your child does not get an annual athletic physical as a requirement to participate in school sports, make sure you are making those appointments.

I hope this information is helpful. I want to emphasis again that this information should be used as a guide only.

If your child has a medical condition, please consult with your pediatrician first. If your child has no known conditions, at their next check up mention to their pediatrician that your child is interested in running.

races with medals, 5k medals, my first 5k medal If your child is running their first 5K race and you would like to get them a medal to remember the race, check out the My First 5K medal. Most 5K races do not give finisher’s medals. Usually only the top male and female finisher and top age group finishers.

Run well my friends and happy running with your child!

Andy

Tick and Mosquito Season what Runners need to know

Summer running season is also tick and mosquito season. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself.

Tick and Mosquito Season – Why worry?

Tick and mosquito season is generally considered to be the warm months of the year.

However, you may be surprised to learn that ticks and mosquitoes can be around all year.

Mosquitoes and ticks have been a menace to humans throughout history. But the CDC reports that the number of diseases carried by these pests more than tripled in the United States between 2004 and 2016.

Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time. These include Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya. 1

The areas of the country where these insects can be found has grown considerably over the past 15-20 years also.

As runners, we often find ourselves on trails, in the woods or fields or near bodies of water where these insects thrive.

With reasonable precautions we can protect ourselves and reduce the chance of contracting a disease from one of these insects.

Tick and Mosquito Season

Ticks and Tick Season

Tick season used to be considered April through the first hard frost and peaked from May to August in Massachusetts.

Scientists have discovered that ticks do not die in the winter. They take cover in leaf litter under the snow and in debris or compost piles possibly in your own yard. To survive sub-zero temperatures they make their own form of anti-freeze.

When it is above freezing ticks can be active and hungry! On warm winter days, you should take the same precautions that you would take in peak season.

This graph from the UMass Extension Service shows reported cases in 2014. While cases peak from May to August, there are reports of infection every month.

Lyme cases in Massachusetts
courtesy: UMass Amherst

Last November I was in Maine for Thanksgiving. On a mild day we went for a walk in the woods behinds my sister’s home.

My brother-in-law looked at me and said I had a tick on my pants leg. I looked down and saw a tick on my right leg just below the knee.

I had never seen a tick before and was surprised as I had been trying to be careful where I walked.

I knew that ticks are hard to kill, but I picked it off of my pants with my gloved hand and pinched it. I waited for a cracking noise, but through my gloves I could not apply enough pressure. I tossed it into the grass away from us.

Tick Born Diseases

The most common tick-borne disease in New England is Lyme Disease. Much less common are Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Rarer still are Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus.

All diseases carried by ticks start out the same way according to Massachusetts Deputy State Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Catherine Brown.

The four common symptoms are fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. More specific symptoms related to each illness develop as they progress, but they all start with these four symptoms. With Lyme Disease you may also see a rash around the bite location.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is wide-spread in Massachusetts, most of the Northeast and in Michigan and Minnesota. Lyme disease appears to be spreading to any area with ticks. As of 2021 there are reports of ticks with Lyme disease in California.

Lyme Disease is named after Lyme and Old Lyme, CT where the disease was first discovered.

Lyme disease came into public view when an epidemic of what appeared to be rheumatoid arthritis began afflicting children in Lyme, Connecticut.

A young rheumatologist at Yale named Allen Steere, who now conducts research at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, studied the children.

In 1976 he named the mysterious illness after its locale and described its main symptoms more fully: a bull’s-eye rash; fevers and aches; Bell’s palsy, or partial paralysis of the face, and other neurological issues; and rheumatological manifestations such as swelling of the knees.

After much study, Steere realized that the black-legged ticks that live on mice and deer (among other mammals) might be harboring a pathogen responsible for the outbreak. In 1981, the medical entomologist Willy Burgdorfer finally identified the bacterium that causes Lyme, and it was named after him: Borrelia burgdorferi. 12

Lyme Disease Human Risk Map, Tick and Mosquito Season
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts are hotbeds for Lyme Disease in the US.

40% of Nantucket’s 10,000 year-round residents have had the disease or are currently being treated for it! 3

It is so bad that they are considering the release of mice genetically modified to be immune to the disease. A team from MIT lead by Kevin Esvelt wants to use CRISPR and Gene Drive to make the mice immune to Lyme Disease. 4

White-footed mice carry the disease and ticks transmit it when they bite the mice and then humans. Research and discussions continue but many people on Nantucket are ready to try anything to deal with this problem.

The most common early symptom of Lyme is a rash which can look like a ring around the bite site. Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, stiff neck, sore and aching muscles and joints, fatigue and swollen glands may also occur.

Early treatment is crucial to prevent more serious problems as the disease progresses.

The joints, nervous system and heart are most commonly affected as the disease progresses.

• About 60% of people with untreated Lyme disease get arthritis in their knees, elbows and/or wrists. The arthritis can move from joint to joint and become chronic.

• Many people who don’t get treatment develop nervous system problems. These problems include meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), facial weakness (Bell’s palsy) or other problems with nerves of the head, and weakness or pain (or both) in the hands, arms, feet and/or legs. These symptoms can last for months, often shifting between mild and severe.

• The heart also can be affected in Lyme disease, with slowing down of the heart rate and fainting. The effect on the heart can be early or late.

Prompt treatment with antibiotics prevents later, more serious symptoms. 5

Lyme Disease is nothing to fool with. If you are in an infested area you need to check yourself often and take precautions to protect yourself.

The other tick born diseases are less common and generally less dangerous to your health. If you have been in a tick infested area and develop flu-like symptoms or develop a rash call your doctor right away.

Mosquitoes and Mosquito Season

Mosquito season generally begins when the temperature approaches 50°F.

Mosquito Season

As the temperature rises, so does the population of mosquitoes. It should be noted that some mosquitoes hibernate during the winter and some can winter-over in your house.

Closets are a common place to find mosquitoes in your home during the winter months. 2

In general, you should be safe from mosquitoes after the first hard frost, but some may be hiding in your home.

Mosquito Born Diseases

Mosquito borne disease outbreaks happen frequently. While Lyme disease is with us every year, the diseases referenced below tend to have occasional outbreaks.

The most common diseases carried by mosquitoes are West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Less common in the US are Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue.

Tick and Mosquito Season

West Nile Virus

The majority of people who are infected with WNV (approximately 80%) will have no symptoms.

Approximately 20% will have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. They may also develop a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

Less than 1% of people infected with WNV will develop severe illness, including encephalitis or meningitis.

The symptoms of severe illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

Persons older than 50 years of age have a higher risk of developing severe illness.

Since most people exposed to WNV have no symptoms it is difficult to determine the actual rate of infection.

Between 2000 and 2010, 67 people were reported infected with WNV in Massachusetts. Six of these people died. There is no specific treatment for this virus so we are fortunate that most of us have little to no reaction from the infection. 6

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The first symptoms of EEE are fever (often 103º to 106ºF), stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy.

These symptoms show up three to ten days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

Inflammation and swelling of the brain, called encephalitis, is the most dangerous and frequent serious complication. The disease gets worse quickly and some patients may go into a coma within a week.

There is no treatment for EEE. In Massachusetts, about half of the people identified with EEE died from the infection. Fortunately, the number of cases is very small.

People who survive this disease will often be permanently disabled. Few people recover completely.

EEE is a very rare disease. Since the virus was first identified in Massachusetts in 1938, just over 115 cases have occurred. The majority of cases typically have been from Bristol, Plymouth, and Norfolk counties. However, in an active year human cases can occur throughout the state.

Outbreaks of EEE usually occur in Massachusetts every 10-20 years. These outbreaks will typically last two to three years. The most recent outbreak of EEE in Massachusetts began in 2019 and included twelve cases with six fatalities. The outbreak continued in 2020 with five cases including one fatality. 7

Zika

Zika is a relatively new disease to North America. Much like WNV, 80% of people exposed to Zika report no symptoms.

Those who do react to the virus report symptoms 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. If a woman is pregnant and contracts Zika the disease may spread to the fetus.

It is extremely unlikely that anyone could become infected with Zika virus from a mosquito bite in Massachusetts. The kinds of mosquitoes that are known to carry Zika virus are generally not found in Massachusetts. 8

Most people contract Zika when they travel to areas where it is prevalent.

Zika infections were reported in Texas and Florida in 2016-2017 and there was a great deal of concern in The US. However, no new cases were reported in 2019 and each subsequent year. 15

World Map of Areas with Risk of Zika and Travel Information

Zika can also be transmitted through unprotected sex and can be transmitted by a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy.

Tick and Mosquito Bite Prevention

As the old saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here is what you need to know.

Preventing Tick Bites

ticks, tall grass Ticks are most active in warmer weather and can be found in tall grass, brush and wooded areas.

Ticks do not fly or jump. They latch onto passing mammals when they brush up against grass or a plant where the tick is clinging.

DEET and permethrin are both recommended to repel ticks. You can buy clothing infused with permethrin and permethrin actually kills ticks, not just repel them.

Just like DEET, you can buy permethrin in a spray bottle. Though it is not widely available.

Permethrin should be applied carefully and according to the manufacturers directions.

Long-sleeved shirts and light colored pants tucked into your socks or boots are also recommended. This doesn’t work very well for runners who typically have a great deal of exposed skin.

Staying on cleared trails while running and avoiding the brush and grass along the trail is also recommended. Ticks are literally hanging out on the vegetation next to trails and clearings waiting for a mammal to come by.

For runners the best advice is to put on some DEET, spray your shoes and socks with permethrin and to stay on the trails.

Since it’s almost impossible to avoid brushing up against foliage while running, you need to do a post run tick check.

Ticks like warm and moist areas of the body. Areas to check include:

  • Inside and behind the ears
  • Along your hairline
  • Back of your neck
  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Legs
  • Behind your knees
  • Between your toes

You should also check your skin for new freckles which could be a tick.

Check out The CDCs Preventing tick bites web page for more information. 13

The best way to remove a tick is with fine point tweezers. Do not use a hot match, petroleum jelly or any other home remedy. 10

You should save the removed tick and make note of the date and where on your body the tick was removed from. Ticks can be analyzed in a lab to discover if and what they are infected with. This can be crucial to your diagnosis if you end up with an infection.

Save the removed tick in a tightly sealed container.

Notify your doctor if you develop flu like symptoms or a rash.

The CDC has a 2-page pdf which you can print out on What to do after a Tick bite. 14

If you run with your dog, this article from YourDogAdvisor.com has some good information for you.

Preventing Mosquito Bites

DEET and permethrin are recommended to repel mosquitoes. Since mosquitoes are active 24 hours a day, it is a good idea to use repellent if you are in an area active with mosquitoes any time of day.

You are more likely to find mosquitoes near bodies of water such as ponds or streams. But mosquitoes can lay their eggs in a table spoon of water, so you could have mosquito habitat on your deck or in your back yard.

It’s important to tip water out of flower pots or anything else that can hold water.

Most mosquitoes do not fly far from where they hatch. Eliminating breeding spots near your home is an important way to protect your family.

Simply pouring water out of buckets or planters in your yard after a rain could significantly decrease the number of mosquitoes in your yard.

Dusk to dawn are peak hours for mosquito activity and using repellent at these times is highly encouraged.

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks are also recommended. Since these are generally impractical for runners it is best to use repellent, avoid high mosquito activity hours and locations.

Unlike ticks, mosquitoes do fly. While running, you are probably safe from getting a bite. But when you stop running the little buggers are sure to find you and all of that exposed skin!

How to Choose a Repellent

The EPA has a great site where you can select a repellent based on your needs. You can specify how long you need protection for, what you need protection from and which ingredients you are interested in.

You can also look up specific products, companies and EPA registration numbers.

They also provide instructions on how to apply repellents which may be difficult to read on a can. If you have children this is particularly important.

Click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page to look for your repellent.

Tick and Mosquito Season Running Go Bag

I always keep a bag of running gear in my car. In the winter this is often just a pair of gloves and a winter hat.

In the summer it is easier to spontaneously go for a run after work with friends. So in addition to keeping some running gear in my go bag I also keep sun screen and a can of insect repellent.

If you are running after work in the summer, it is likely you will be out at dusk. While you are running you will probably be okay. But when you stop for a drink or to hang out after your run, you could be swarmed by mosquitoes, black flies and possibly horse flies.

Having a DEET based repellent in your car is a great idea. I’ve been at races along The Charles River in Boston and seen runners freely passing around a can of bug spray. Stranger or no, no one can stand by and watch others suffer. Hanging out next to the river before a race can literally suck!

You cannot spray permethrin onto your skin, but you can spray DEET based product onto your skin.

Another idea is to have a change of clothes for after the race. While long pants and a long-sleeved shirt may not feel comfortable in the summer heat, they will help protect you from all insect bites.

Those neck gaiters that many of us wore during COVID are also a great way to protect your neck. If you spray permethrin on one you should not pull it up over you month and nose. Permethrin is nothing to fool with.

I hope you have a great summer running season and stay healthy.

Andy

This post was originally posted May 29th, 2018 and has been updated June19th, 2021.

SOURCES

1 https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0501-vs-vector-borne.html

2 http://www.mosquitomagnet.com/articles/mosquito-season

3 https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/genetically-engineered-mice-reduce-lyme-disease

4 https://www.statnews.com/2016/06/07/nantucket-lyme-genetic-engineering/

5 https://www.mass.gov/service-details/lyme-disease

6 https://www.mass.gov/service-details/west-nile-virus-wnv

7 https://www.mass.gov/service-details/eee-eastern-equine-encephalitis

8 https://www.mass.gov/service-details/zika-information-for-the-public

9 https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika

10 https://www.mass.gov/service-details/tick-borne-disease-information-for-the-public

11 https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

12 https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/09/life-with-lyme/594736/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190814&silverid-ref=NDg5MzY0ODg2MjY3S0

13 https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html

14 https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/pdfs/FS_TickBite-508.pdf

15 https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html

Snowshoe Running What You Want to Know

Snowshoe Running

By Mark Rosenblum (guest blogger for OmniRunner)

Updated – June 14, 2021

When old man winter blows in hard and furious, creating icy roads and huge snowbanks narrowing Brooksby Snowshoe classic, snowshoe race roadways, what can you do (besides treadmill running)? Running on roads with less traffic still has risks. Seeking out well plowed streets offers limited choices. Well, there’s another choice which is safer, more fun, and gives you a more forgiving surface than running on the roads: snowshoeing!

Snowshoe models

If you want to get into snowshoeing, you’ll first need to decide which type and model of snowshoe to Tubbs 6000 snowshoes, snowshoe running, snowshoes buy. The majority of snowshoes on the market are designed for either mountain hiking or trail walking. Running in the former is possible but challenging. The latter is fine for starting out. These will cost $100-$200.

However, if you want snowshoes primarily for running training and possibly snowshoe racing, you are better off getting running or racing snowshoes. These will cost $200-$300 for better models.

Atlas racing snowshoes, snowshoe running

The good news is that companies are starting to offer more choices every year as this sport catches on. The bad news is that most outdoors specialty retail stores do not carry this type of snowshoe, so you will most likely have to buy online and read up on different options, vs. having an in-store salesperson help you.

Try before you buy

If you have never been snowshoeing before, you will probably want to try it before buying snowshoes. REI rents snowshoes, or you may find a small local retailer that does. Rentals typically will run $10-$20/day. Many XC ski touring centers will also rent snowshoes. A great opportunity to try out different models of snowshoes for free every winter is “Winter Trails Day”, held in several states on different dates in January. Go to www.wintertrails.org for more info. There you can try 3-4 different models in an hour or two and get questions answered.

You are not likely to find racing snowshoe models at these stores or events. However, many races will provide an opportunity to use a racing model provided by a sponsor for an extra $5 – $10. The numbers are often limited so you may need to register early.

Technology

If you were buying snowshoes for hiking, you would want to learn about “flotation” and get a snowshoe size based on your weight and type of snow conditions you will encounter.

For snowshoe running and racing, you will want a narrower and lighter snowshoe. The following webpage lists 35 models of racing snowshoes which are ‘legal’ per racing snowshoe regulations: http://www.snowshoeracing.com/legal_size.htm

Here in New England, Dion dominates the market, with their Model 121 being most popular.

One thing you will want to consider is how easy and comfortable it is to fasten your hiking or running Dion snowshoes shoes to the snowshoes via the bindings, which typically involve some type of leather, rubber, or plastic straps. Dion’s ‘Quick Fit’ binding comprised of flexible VELCRO®-type straps is one of the easier types available.

Other details to consider when trying snowshoes for running is how closely the snowshoe snaps back to your foot, kick back of snow, and weight.

Lastly, while most snowshoe hikers also get a pair of ski or trekking poles, for both balance and leverage, they are not needed for snowshoe running, and are not used for racing.

Footwear

Asics Gel Arctic 4, winter running shoe If just looking looking to get into snowshoeing as cross-training for hiking, hiking shoes are your best option. For running training, consider getting a GORE-TEX® running shoe, especially if you are prone to getting cold feet. See “The best way to enjoy winter running” for some suggestions. Another advantage of these shoes is that they will offer better forefoot protection against binding straps, which may otherwise provide uncomfortable pressure points.

Such shoes are also fine for racing, where you might not mind trading off some extra weight for comfort. At the other end of the spectrum, some racers looking for the lightest weight and comfort have found ways to custom mount a pair of racing flats directly to the webbing of the snowshoe, eliminating the need for bindings.

Gaiters are especially helpful for snowshoe running. This topic was also covered in the blog post Altra Gaiters, snowshoe gear mentioned earlier. For most conditions, ankle height gaiters will be your best option. Most models will attach via clips to your laces, and laces or straps under your arch to secure the gaiter. Instead of the latter, some models attach to your heel with a strip of VELCRO®.

 

Clothing

You will quickly find out when you do snowshoe running workouts that you will generate more heat than for a corresponding road workout. Thus, an initial guide for what to wear is to dress for about 10 degrees warmer than what you would wear for running. You will quickly find what works best for you. The only other special consideration for snowshoeing is that there is just no avoiding kicking up snow behind you, which can leave a mass of ice crystals clinging to the back of your pants. Slicker materials such as running tights or rain pants will minimize this.

Where to go

Mt Hood golf course, snowshoe hiking If your local golf course is available for winter recreation, you can run with as little as 2” of snow if the ground is well frozen. Avoid running over the greens. A similarly good location is around playing fields at local schools. Rail trails and some woods trails will be fine with about 4-5” of snow, whereas rocky woods trails may need 8” or more before you can get out without risk of damaging your snowshoe crampons or twisting an ankle.

If you go on trails and find cross-country ski tracks present, proper trail etiquette requests snowshoers to avoid stepping in the tracks.

Racing and Race opportunities

If you are a competitive runner and get into snowshoeing, you will probably want to try snowshoe Katherine Kulig, Granite State Snowshoe Championships racing at some point. The quality of the snow at the time of the race will be the biggest variable that you will encounter, from very hard to very soft, very smooth to ‘choppy’, and from well packed to fluffy fresh powder.

The conditions obviously will affect how fast you can go. As a result, times are not comparable even for the same race from year-to-year. Under typical racing conditions, expect your times to be anywhere from 50% to 2x (or more) greater than your times for a road race of the same distance.

All that being said, snowshoe races offer runners a fun and interesting experience for racing, quite different from other races. You’ll generally find other runners at snowshoe races, typically those who enjoy cross-country, trail, and mountain races.

Snowshoe races frequently have ‘single-track’ sections: narrow paths in woods where the snow-packed trail is not wide enough for two people to run side-by-side. It is very difficult to pass on these sections. If you sense someone is on your heels and itching to pass you, try to quickly find a good spot to step to the side to let them pass. You will appreciate the same favor when the situation is reversed!

Here are a few snowshoe races and sites to learn more:

Goose Adventure Racing Snowshoe Series Western New York

2020 Series Details:

The Goose Adventure Racing Snowshoe Series consists of five races in 2020. At each event, racers will compete for points based on their placement (not time) in each race. 100 points will be awarded to the first finisher in both genders, 2nd place will receive 99 points, third will receive 98, etc. Cast a Shadow presents an opportunity to rake in a lot of points! Every lap completed will earn 10 points up to a maximum of 100 points (relay team members only collect points on their own laps). The Little Rodent 4ish Mile race the morning of Cast a Shadow will also award points starting at 50 points for 1st place. However, a maximum of 100 points can be earned from combined points from both events. Competitors must race in a minimum of TWO Goose Series Races to be eligible for prizes. At the finale of the Series, awards will be presented to the top three male and female points leaders as well as first place in the Masters (40+) age group (with no double dipping).

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble 4 Miler

15 January | Saturday | 10:00 AM | North Conway, NH

Registration is open!

Norway Snowshoe Festival 2K, 5K and 10K

TBD February| Norway, ME

Snow Devil Snowshoe Races 100 Mile, Marathon, Half and 10K

TBD March | Pittsfield, VT

Sugarhouse Snowshoe or Trail Run 5K/10K

26 February | Saturday | 9AM | Shelburne, VT

Registration is open!

http://dionwmacsnowshoe.com (NY, VT, and western MA).

Nationwide race information can also be found at http://www.snowshoeracing.com/

Snowshoeing with others

Lastly, snowshoeing with others is a great way to keep active during the winter. Having someone guide you through trails, especially at night, is a lot easier than going off by yourself. Also, when there is deep fresh snow, making tracks is a lot easier with a group.

So, whether you are looking to find a safer alternative to running on the roads during the worst winter days, interested in a growing way to stay competitive during the winter, or looking for a fun way to take advantage of winter’s bounty and enjoy the company of friends out in the woods, consider taking up snowshoeing!

Run well My Friends,

Andy

I Like to Run

Some conditions are better than others, but I can find a reason that I like to run in most any condition.

I Like to run in the cold

While I’m not a big fan of being cold, there are some things I really like about running in the cold.

There are a lot fewer people around

With the COVID-19 lockdown there are a few rules we have to follow.

If you are within six feet of another person both of you are supposed to wear a mask. Even if you are outside.

During the summer our parks were very busy when they weren’t closed.

And neighborhood sidewalks were busy with dog walkers and people out with their kids.

Everyone was tired of being cooped up and wanted to get outside.

Wicked Half 2020, running 2020 For most of the Summer and into Fall I had to wear a mask almost the entire time I was out for a run.

People seemed to be everywhere!

As the temperatures cooled I saw fewer people in the parks and on the sidewalks.

With fewer people out and about I didn’t have to wear my mask for the entire run.

Now that it is winter I like to run in the cold because I have the streets to myself for the most part.

I like to run in a mask

Most runners who run year-round have used a mask at one time or another.

It’s how we persevere in tough conditions.

Here in New England it’s hard to avoid running at least a few sub-zero days.

Before COVID, most of us only wore a mask when it was really cold. And most of us never really figured it out. Especially those of us who wear glasses.

I Like to Run, mask, J23 Now that I have been running in a mask for almost a year, I know how to make them work. For the most part.

And once you figure out how to deal with your glasses fogging up it’s not so bad.

In fact, wearing a mask all the time helps eliminate the “It’s too cold to run” excuse.

My nose and face don’t freeze and the air going into my lungs doesn’t seem as cold either.

So running in a mask actually makes winter running more comfortable.

I like to run with pockets

Most runners need to carry a few things with them.

This usually includes a house or car key and usually a phone.

Many runners use their phone to track their run and for music or podcasts.

For longer runs, most runners will carry a gel and something to drink.

I always run with a key and usually my phone and some cash. You never know when you might need a bottle of water or even a bite to eat.

Just the basics In the summer time I often use a running belt since most running shorts have only one tiny pocket.

But when it’s cold out I often wear a running vest or a jacket.

In addition to keeping me warm all those pockets are a great place to stash a phone, keys and anything else I want!

I like to run in the dark

It’s cool to run in the dark

1 In the summer when you run after dark you avoid the intense summer sun and the heat.

Even when it’s cloudy, UV rays can still damage your skin. Runners spend a lot of time outside, so it’s important that we pay attention to our exposure.

If it’s really hot or you are on a long run you could also experience heat stroke. Heat stroke is nothing to fool with and it can kill you.

In July and August I often wait until after dinner to go for a run. In the middle of the summer sometimes even the setting sun cannot break the heat.

Of course, people need to be aware of their surroundings and possibly not run in the same areas they might during the day.

I like to run in the dark to avoid the summer heat and experience the peace and quiet of the evening.

There is something about the warm summer air in the evening.

I like to avoid the crowds

Philadelphia Marathon 2019 Avoiding crowds seems to be the best way to avoid contracting COVID. Mask or not.

All businesses are required to keep the number of people in the office or dining room to 25% of capacity.

All mass gathering events such as concerts and ball games have been cancelled or played without anyone in the stands.

I like to run after dark to avoid close encounters.

Only in a park in the summer time would I see a crowd. But I have close encounters on the sidewalk all the time.

Some people are good with their mask but some people don’t even have one.

So to avoid the all to frequent encounters, I like to run at night and avoid the crowds.

I like to run in the morning

MRC Relay, let the sun shine, I like to run in the morning Running at night is great, especially in the summer.

But running in the morning has it’s own advantages.

Just like evening running, morning running let’s you avoid the mid-day summer heat.

And the crisp air lets you know you’re alive.

Run towards the light

One advantage of morning versus evening running is light.

It seems that it’s easier for cars to see you in the light than it is in the dark with flashing lights and reflectors.

I’ve had more close encounters at night even when I’m lit up like a Christmas tree.

Maybe drivers don’t expect to see people out at night?

Down for the count

I’ve seen plenty of people fall during a run. I’ve done it a few times my self.

Most of these falls have been in the evening or at night.

And many of these falls have been on familiar roads or sidewalks.

As the shadows get longer, dips and heaves in the pavement become harder to see.

Also, the light from approaching cars can turn a sidewalk into a black abyss. In these situations you have to be very careful.

It’s very easy to step into a hole and wrench your back or twist your knee. And the sidewalk just has a way of reaching up out of the dark and taking you down.

When you go out for a morning run the light continues to improve. And this improving light makes it less likely that you will go down for the count.

We get more done before 9AM

Years ago The Marines used to run an add. The tag line was “We get more done before 9AM than most people get done all day”. I may not have the quote exact and it may have been The Army.

But when you go for a run in the morning all day you have the feeling that you got something really big done. It’s just this nice feeling of accomplishment that lingers and sometimes I forget why I feel so accomplished.

It’s easy to forget that you ran when you do it all the time. But that nice feeling can last all day.

When I don’t like to run

I guess I can find a good reason to run just about any time of day and in any conditions.

The only conditions I don’t like are in the cold and wet.

Boston Marathon 2018, marathon running I can run in the snow and manage to stay comfortable. I can run in the heat and avoid dehydration.

When it’s cold and raining eventually you become miserable.

The 2018 Boston Marathon comes to mind!

Over time, the rain always seeps through whatever you are wearing. And when that cold gets to your skin it always sucks the heat out of your body and makes you miserable.

If you are in these conditions long enough you will suffer hypothermia. I’ve seen it happen.

I don’t know anyone who likes to be cold and wet.

I can deal with one or the other, but not both.

What is your favorite and least favorite condition to run in? Are you a morning or evening runner?

Run well my Friends,

Andy

Five Easy ways to Prevent Windburn

What is Windburn?

Windburn is dry, chapped skin caused by prolonged exposure to cold, dry air.

Windburn is caused by your body’s response to cold, dry air. Wind accelerates this process by drawing heat and moisture from your skin.

Sunburn has similar symptoms but is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) from the sun. It’s not unusual to get windburn and sunburn together.

Moisture evaporates from your skin through a process called Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). This is part of the natural process your body uses to maintain your skin, the largest organ in the body.

When your skin is exposed to cold, dry air your body responds by dilating blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This increases blood flow to restore normal skin moisture and temperature levels.

Over prolonged periods of time and in harsher conditions, the rate of evaporation exceeds your body’s capacity to respond. When normal skin temperature and moisture levels cannot be maintained your skin becomes damaged and you get windburn.

In the short term, wind burn results in red, dry skin which may become chapped or crack. In the long term, repeated or extended exposure can cause permanent damage and pre-mature aging of your skin.

Sunburn is caused by exposure to the sun’s Ultra-Violet (UV) rays. Similar to windburn, UV rays also cause your skin to dry out from accelerated TEWL. More significant is the damage UV rays cause to the DNA in your skin cells. This accelerates the aging process and can also lead to cancer.

It’s not uncommon to simultaneously suffer sunburn and windburn. It’s not uncommon to experience dry, cold and sunny conditions together.

Five Ways to Prevent Windburn

preventing windburn, winter running

The best way to treat wind burn is to prevent it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

For athletes this means training indoors when conditions are harsh or changing the time of day you exercise outside. This is just like avoiding the hottest, sunniest parts of the day during the summer months.

For most athletes, over exposure to the elements is common. We cannot control the environment and sometimes we are unprepared to deal with harsh conditions.

It’s not unusual for conditions to change during a run. If race day turns into a bad weather day, most of us still show up.

Since most of us still show up for races in harsh conditions and still train in less than ideal conditions, we need to take steps to protect ourselves.

Here are Five Ways to Prevent Windburn

1.) Use a skin cream that locks in moisture. Products that contain petroleum jelly, cocoa butter, jojoba oil, shea butter, lanolin or beeswax are good to use.

These ingredients are known as “Occlusives.” Occlusives form a thin non-permeable film on your skin which locks in your skin’s natural moisture and helps prevent TEWL. Check out these articles from Skin Therapy Newsletter and Botaneri for more information on occlusives and products to look for that contain occlusives.

Occlusives stay on the surface of your skin and are not moisturizers. They form a protective layer to lock in your skin’s natural moisture. Since occlusives cannot be absorbed, they can clog pores and cause acne.

A product containing occlusives will need to be washed off with soap and water.

Some dermatologists recommend using sun screen every day. When you know you will be exposed for long periods you should use a sunscreen containing an occlusive. The most common occlusive found in sun screen is zinc oxide.

This is the easiest tip to implement. Keep a tube of quality sun screen in your bag and in your car. Keep sunscreen out of the heat and check for experimentation dates.

2.) Don’t forget your lips. Our lips are exposed to sun every day and the bitter cold of winter does not help. Some chap stick and lip balm is made with bee’s wax and have a decent SPF. Beeswax is a natural occlusive that most people are not allergic to.

I often use chap stick when running. My lips always seem to dry out and it can drive me crazy. I don’t always use a product with an occlusive but I always look for the SPF on the package. Always read the label.

3.) Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time. In the summer time you want to avoid outside activities when the UV Index is highest. In cold temperatures you want to avoid being outside for long periods of time in harsh conditions.

You may have to run at different times of the day or drive the kids to school. When the days are short and the nights are frigid, a treadmill may be your best friend.

If you do have to run in harsh conditions, cover as much skin as possible. Use a lotion with an occlusive on your nose and exposed portions of your face. When it’s below freezing I try to wear lotion even in the dark.

Kids should wear gloves and knit caps for the bus stop or walk home. A baseball hat doesn’t protect ears from frostbite or windburn and has virtually no insulation for your kid’s head.

4.) Break up your exposure time. Your body responds to the conditions and can protect you over the short run. But it needs time to recover from exposure. See the chart below for frost bite. Cut those times in half for windburn and plan accordingly.

Your body will heat up from running but exposed skin is still vulnerable to wind burn. Try breaking a long run into shorter runs and give your skin time to recover in sheltered warmth. Re-apply your skin cream.

You can also break up your outside chores by taking a break from snow shoveling to re-hydrate and help your skin recover.

Breaking up activities is probably the most difficult thing to do. It’s hard enough to get outside when it’s cold. Taking a break could cause you to not go back out.

If the conditions are really bad you may have to use the treadmill or risk cutting your run short. Sometimes a little in-doors cross training is the best bet!

5.) Check the weather forecast; know the wind chill. Quite often winter forecasts will include the wind chill factor. Knowing the conditions is key to protecting your skin.

Use this chart to estimate the wind chill in your area. Click on the chart to get a National Weather Service pdf down load.wind chill, winter running, windburn It’s important to keep in mind that conditions constantly change. If the air temperature is 20° and you get into a 30mph wind, you have a 1°F wind chill.

Due to the variability of conditions it is best to be a little cautious. Wearing a quality sun screen all the time is a good idea. If conditions are marginal, you should be prepared to seek shelter and change your plans if conditions worsen.

How to treat Windburn

Windburned skin is damaged, sensitive skin. Moisturizing lotion and avoiding further exposure will help your skin recover. Avoid lotions with fragrances or harsh ingredients and look for lotions for “sensitive” skin.

Aloe Vera is a good choice, but consult with your physician or pharmacist for advice on the best treatment for you.

While a hot shower may feel great after coming in from the cold, hot water is not good for wind burn or sunburned skin. If you want a hot shower try to keep the hot water off of your damaged skin.

Hot water and soap break up and wash away the lipids on the surface of your skin. Lipids are the natural oils in your skin that hold in moisture and help keep your skin soft. Try to wash your damaged skin with warm water and then apply lotion.

Run well my friends,

Andy

This Is How I Roll

Every runner has habits and preferences. We find our what works for us and keep it or continue to experiment. Here are a few of mine.

This Is How I Roll is an idea from Meditations in Motion who borrowed it from Donna at RunningToTravel and Tracy at The Writing Runner. They got the idea from the back page of Runners’ World magazines. Every month, Runners’ World interviews a runner and asks them to sum up their running preferences.

This is how I Roll

  1. Wave Nod
  2. Heart Rate Feel
  3. Lead Follow
  4. PR Finish – Most PRs are behind me
  5. Stride Glide
  6. Athleisure Sweats – not into either, but given the choice
  7. Gel Chews
  8. Hat Gloves – Easy ways to adjust if you get hot.
  9. Morning Night – Not a morning person. It’s coffee time!!
  10. Swift Strong – I enjoy hills more than most people
  11. Struggle Slay – You have to embrace the struggle
  12. Hot Cold – I have run some of my best races in the heat
  13. Low Socks Tall Socks
  14. Shoe Store Online
  15. Uphill Downhill – my competitive advantage
  16. 5k Half Marathon
  17. GPS Naked – I wear my Garmin 610 24×7
  18. Stop Go – not sure what this means. I just keep running
  19. Start Finish – The finish always feels better
  20. Heel Toe
  21. Calves Quads – people actually comment on my calves. Embarrassing!
  22. Headphones Inner Voices – I like to hear what’s going on around me
  23. Bagel Banana – a plain bagel before a marathon seems to work
  24. Treadmill Frostbite – Will run outside as low as -20
  25. Medal T-shirt – I really have enough of both
  26. Warm Up Cool Down
  27. Distance Time – Need to get my miles in
  28. 400s Hills – Not that I love them but…1. I wave to most people I see while running. With this lock down it’s the most socializing I get in all day!

2. My watch has a chest strap to monitor heart rate but it broke and I never replaced it. Now I run based on feel.

Some days I feel great and full of energy and can really push it. Other days it’s all I can do to get in 5K.

3. When I’m following someone I feel more in control. On a training run the person in front of me can only run so fast before they are running by them selves.

Andy Nagelin and Bobby Taylor Main Street in Wakefield During a race when everyone is running as fast as they can, running behind someone allows me to control the pace.

If I push up a hill, they have to run faster or I’ll pass them. If I want to back off, I’m still behind them. During a race I often set my sights on someone, catch up and follow them and then pass when I can.

4 and 5 – I think my PR days are behind me. And while some people say I have an efficient stride, I feel like a bag of bricks.

8. My ears ache in the cold and my hands freeze in the winter when I start a run. If it stays cold I leave them on. If I warm up, hats and gloves are easy to take off.

9. Like just about everyone, I’ve done plenty of running in the morning. The Honolulu Marathon begins at 5:00 AM!

But, outside of a race, I prefer to run in the afternoon or evening. I’m just not that motivated in the morning!

10. I’m not a particularly strong runner, but I don’t give up and I always go 110% in for a race.

11. Running is about embracing the struggle. If you’re not willing to be uncomfortable or in pain you’ll never reach your potential.

12. I hate to bundle up and run in the cold, but I will do it. I’ve run some of my best race times when it’s 80° F out. As long as I have plenty to drink, I’m okay. I also know to run in the shade and pay attention to my body.

Heat stroke can be very serious.

14. You may pay a bit more at a shoe store but you know the shoes will fit. People who work at shoe stores are also fonts of knowledge and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They are runners after all!

15. I’m a bit of a hill runner. I’m not great but I’m probably above average.

When I run a race with out any hills, I feel like I’m at a disadvantage.

16. I think most runners prefer the half marathon. 5Ks are fun but they’re over before you get started. 10Ks are great and you feel like you’ve run a race by the time you cross the finish line.

The half marathon is a challenge but it’s not the major under-taking that is a marathon. I can run several halfs per month, but I can only run two to three marathons a year.

17. GPS Watch – if you didn’t track the run, did it really happen? Does it count? I use my watch to track my pace. During a race keeping track of my pace is essential to my race strategy.

21. I’ve received more comments on my calves than even my formerly red Scott Procopio Gold Star Honor Run 10K 2018, Andy Nagelin hair. Sometimes people will see my legs at a race and say something. And sometimes it’s a little embarrassing.

I’ve had conversations with colleagues about my legs. And I’m no body builder. It’s kind of odd.

I guess it’s nice to have some redeeming physical attribute!

24. When I’m training for a marathon I’ll do what I have to to get in my miles. I’ve run a half marathon training run on a treadmill before, but I didn’t enjoy it.

I prefer to take my chances with the elements. I’ve run in – 20° weather before and will run in shorts down to about 32°.

There’s nothing like the great outdoors.

25. Medals and t-shirts. I wish more races would eliminate both. I have running medals, marathon medals enough of both items and often medals are more like trinkets just to say you got something. I say save the money for fundraising .

26. I’m not really good at warming up or cooling down. I do minimal stretching before a race and will do a warm up jog before a 5K sometimes.

I hardly ever stretch much after a race and I need to fix that!

I could write a paragraph or even a blog on most of these items. But this was supposed to be a brief post, just for fun.

How about it? How do you roll?

Run well my Friends!

Andy