colder bolderTough week for running with five days in a row of below zero lows.  We finally warmed up with a high above freezing on Tuesday.  I know from experience that speeds slow down in colder weather.  I can’t point to a specific line on the barometer.  I suspect it might be more a factor of additional clothing than air temperature.  All very anecdotal and I’m interested in your thoughts.  Speed of course is nearly irrelevant in training, unless you are doing repetitions on the track.  It impacts me in that I schedule shorter distance races in December – 5Ks – and struggle to run a pace faster than my longer distance races from earlier months.  Running faster is never my top agenda but it’s always a goal.  It’s hard to ignore race results.  And it’s just bothersome that I can’t run a shorter distance at a faster pace than a longer distance.

Now, winter doesn’t really start until December 21st.  But I’ve worn tights in my last two races of a cross country 6K and a 5K on the CU campus – picture above.  If I have to wear tights – it’s winter.  These runs were in December at least.  This Saturday’s 5K in Fort Collins won’t be truly winter then either but it will be chilly enough that I expect to wear tights.  Still, I’ll be wearing half the weight in gear I did last weekend.  It’s possible the gear does not affect speed as I think but rather something more complex like oxygen uptake efficiency in colder temperatures.  Any scientists out there?

There could be other factors, more specific to just my experience.  I had dinner last night with a couple of buddies, John and Alan, at the Flagstaff House.  Very nice.  Alan suggested that maybe I don’t warm up enough for 5Ks.  As I think back, maybe I don’t.  I certainly didn’t last weekend because it was friggin cold.  I didn’t go outside until it was time for my wave to start.  Instead I stretched inside the warmth of the fieldhouse, sipping the free coffee like a gentleman runner.  John got me talking about my 5Ks when I was in college.  It suddenly occurred to me that I had the same issue back then.  I rarely ever broke 15 minutes in a 5K, and yet I typically ran the first 3 miles of my 10Ks in 15 minutes.  That’s not the same distance exactly but pretty close.  The only thing I can think of is I might have warmed up better for 10Ks.  That’s my plan then for this weekend.  My goal is to beat my best 10K pace of 7:09.  I’m fairly certain I’m not fast enough to break 7:00 flat, but I should have a shot at 7:05.  Results to follow.