Time to run off the holiday calories and kick-start a New Year’s running resolution. Yes, it’s winter, but running in snow and cold temps really can be enjoyable.
“I preface this by saying that I think I’m in the minority on my love of winter running, but I actually find it more refreshing and invigorating,” says Emily Kahn, avid runner and marathoner and board member of Community Running, a club that meets at the MIT campus in Cambridge. “Not to mention you feel . . . even more accomplished when you return. Also, assuming you are careful, snow and ice can be like a fun obstacle course that can help the time pass on days when you’re not really feeling it.”
David Leung, president of Community Running, couldn’t agree more: “Snowing, and you pass someone going in the other direction? It’s like you both got Grand Prize of Amazing for the day.”
And, if your resolution includes not only getting in shape but also helping others, 5Ks and other races are often wonderful fund-raisers for causes like cancer research — the upcoming 7th Annual 5K Resolution Run to Kick Cancer on Jan. 28 in Lexington is a popular event. www.resolution
Winter running routes
“I think that the main thing that all runners should know when training in Boston in the winter is that it is extra important to be safe out there,” says Terrence Mahon, high performance program coach for the Boston Athletic Association (www.baa.org). “This means you should dress appropriately for both the weather and for visibility with traffic. Lots of layers and lots of reflective wear.” And, he adds, “Just remember that it isn’t a race out there. It is better to slow down a bit and be able to keep running than to go too fast and slip and fall.”
Here are some of Mahon’s recommended winter running routes in and around Boston.
Charles River Path in Boston “This is normally kept clear or at least plowed all winter so that it is runnable from the Harvard Bridge all the way down to the Aquarium.”
MIT Campus and surrounding blocks in Cambridge “The river path on the Cambridge side can be a bit dicey so I usually recommend that runners stick to the sidewalks along the MIT Campus. You can pretty much follow those all the way up toward Harvard without too much trouble.”
Jamaica Way (The Fens) “The sidewalks leading from downtown to The Fens and the Emerald Necklace are usually quite solid. Once you get to the Fens opt for the bike path that can take you toward Jamaica Pond and beyond. You can also continue past the pond to the Arnold Arboretum for some adventure running in the snow.”
Fresh Pond “Don’t forget about this legendary running loop. It is a great place to run both when it is snowing and once they have plowed it. Unbelievable views.”
Franklin Park “The ever-popular cross-country course can be a great place to log some miles come winter time. Its proximity to downtown and its open space access make it a great place to run off road and along the neighboring bike paths.”
Minute Man Bike Path “This bike path that extends from Cambridge all the way out past Lexington is one of the best places nearby to do long runs in bad weather. The majority of the trail is quite sheltered from the elements.”
Carson Beach (South Boston) out to Castle Island “It can be quite windy on the wrong day, but it is flat and open so it stays pretty clear. Add a loop around the JFK Library and UMass Boston if you want to put in a few extra miles.”
And, if it’s a really snowy day, Tom Grilk, chief executive officer of the Boston Athletic Association, suggests running “laps of the Common” on the day of a storm.
Running clubs and programs
There’s a very good chance that if you hear someone talking about the club scene in Boston, they’re discussing running clubs, not bars. Here are just a few.
Boston Marathon Adidas RunBase holds group runs that you can participate in during the winter months on Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and there is no membership fee. Every mile during those organized practices earns the athlete a dollar of store credit. Adidas also offers free running tours of Boston, year-round, on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m., has running maps for anyone who is visiting from out-of-town, and offers free showers and locker room facilities for athletes during regular hours. Yoga classes, nutrition clinics, training seminars, and meditation classes are available as well — all free of charge. www.bostonrunbase.com
Marathon Sports holds many free group runs throughout the week, as well as a Winter Warrior Challenge for January, which can be run as an individual or part of a team. The way it works: Each day in January, you run or walk at least one mile outside, and track your mileage with Winter Warrior. For more information, visit www.marathonsports.com
And Community Running offers a program called Couch-to-5K (C25K), a mentoring program for runners. The way it works: Members of the group volunteer to be New Runner Mentors to provide encouragement and guidance (coaches are also available to help). “I’ve mentored the Couch-to-5K program for many sessions, both here at Community Running and, also as an adult ed course for Brookline Adult Ed,” Leung said. “I’d say the greatest challenges to new runners are two-fold: actually starting, and support from friends and family. When I first tried to be a runner, I didn’t have support, so my friends were saying, ‘Hey, let’s go to dinner!’ and I’d say ‘But I’m supposed to go running.’ And they’d say, ‘Do that tomorrow!’ ” For more information, visit www.communityrunning. org/new_runners