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Winter running

The first snow storm of the season meant some horrible driving in the southern part of Western New York.

But it also posed a question for runners.

Where do I run? Do I do my long weekend run outside, braving the cold and snow? Or do I head to the gym and the treadmill?

In preparing for the half marathon in Miami in January, my weekend runs are getting longer and Saturday's workout called for running in my endurance heart rate zone for an hour and 40 minutes. With work commitments later that day, my run needed to be early in the morning, which would mean running in the dark in 20-degrees with a profound chill in the wind.

It wasn't high on my list of things which get me excited, quite frankly. I warned my friend Sue that I would likely whine the entire run.

Then came the best text message of the night. Sue had made an executive decision to take her run to the gym.

Thank goodness.

So we toiled on the treadmills instead, Sue getting in her 12 mile run, me going for 1:40 and our friend Herm joining us for his 16-mile run. The run was slower for me. Staying in my heart rate zone meant dialing it back a bit on the treadmill. I tend to run faster and with more efficiency on the roads.

But on this particular day, we got a better workout on the treadmill. It wasn't just the cold that drove us inside. In actuality, the temperature and calmness of the morning would have made for a nice outside run. Still, there was safety to be had on the treadmills. While the roads were passable for cars, the ice pockets and snow slush would have made running difficult. It would have caused us to slow down (probably even more than our paces on the treadmill) and it would have caused us to worry more. The last thing any of us needed was an injury, no matter how minor, from slipping on the ice or from trying to avoid slipping on the ice.

That being said, there is a joy to winter running and it can be not only fun but beneficial.

Runner's World recently posted an article about four devices that can help you run in snow and ice safely.

The suggestions range from commercially produced Yak Trax -- a type of snow tire for your shoe -- to making your own "screw shoes" at home.

The other option, when the snow is deep and plentiful, is to substitute your run to go snowshoeing instead.

Sometimes, you just have to embrace the winter.

--- Amy Moritz
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