School Policies on cold weather training
01/27/2014 1:33:08 PM
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Coaches I need your help. What is your policy or your school's policy on training in the cold. What do the conditions have to be that your school will not let you train.
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I need your help.
What is your policy or your school's policy on training in the cold.
What do the conditions have to be that your school will not let you train.
01/27/2014 3:11:30 PM
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Coach Medley- We can't train if it's under 32 degrees outside. This was a district-wide policy adopted last year. For track, we are given some sway----ultimately the way it was put to me is that it is up to the discretion of the head coach. We have not been outside for the last two weeks though. However, we don't have any track coaches that wear shorts all winter either:-) Mark Rowe
Coach Medley-
We can't train if it's under 32 degrees outside. This was a district-wide policy adopted last year. For track, we are given some sway----ultimately the way it was put to me is that it is up to the discretion of the head coach. We have not been outside for the last two weeks though. However, we don't have any track coaches that wear shorts all winter either
Mark Rowe
01/27/2014 5:32:39 PM
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Wow, 32 degrees?! I had a Nike poster in my room when I was in HS that read "The Roads Are Always Open." Unless you live in Radford, VA it's safe to say that is one thing that sets running apart from other sports that rely on school facilities.
Wow, 32 degrees?!

I had a Nike poster in my room when I was in HS that read "The Roads Are Always Open." Unless you live in Radford, VA it's safe to say that is one thing that sets running apart from other sports that rely on school facilities.
01/27/2014 11:46:05 PM
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At Marshall, I'd say it's mostly at the discretion of the coach. We don't have an official policy that has been established. Like Mark, we haven't been going outside at all the past two weeks, but we are fortunate to have a very large main gym and we use it to do some things.
At Marshall, I'd say it's mostly at the discretion of the coach. We don't have an official policy that has been established. Like Mark, we haven't been going outside at all the past two weeks, but we are fortunate to have a very large main gym and we use it to do some things.
01/28/2014 7:29:08 AM
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No set policy, we just follow a chain of command thing where discretion reigns at each link. I guess you could say it goes like this: 1. [b]God[/b] - we're a Catholic school so if God wants us to cancel, he'll tell us (typically a whisper or burning bush) 2. [b]School administration[/b] - on days they believe the weather is inappropriate, they cancel all activities after school. If school is ever canceled, then we are not allowed to officially practice on those days as well. 3. [b]Head coach[/b] - the head coach makes a call on days when it might be unsafe. E.g., one day all the meteorological pundits were claiming it'd be pretty icy after school, so we canceled in order to just get the girls home before conditions worsened. On other days, the part-time kids might be officially excused, but the competitive group girls will still have practice. 4. [b]Parents[/b] - parents are given the authority to pull their kid from practice without any repercussions if they believe the weather is inappropriate for their kid
No set policy, we just follow a chain of command thing where discretion reigns at each link.

I guess you could say it goes like this:
1. God - we're a Catholic school so if God wants us to cancel, he'll tell us (typically a whisper or burning bush)
2. School administration - on days they believe the weather is inappropriate, they cancel all activities after school. If school is ever canceled, then we are not allowed to officially practice on those days as well.
3. Head coach - the head coach makes a call on days when it might be unsafe. E.g., one day all the meteorological pundits were claiming it'd be pretty icy after school, so we canceled in order to just get the girls home before conditions worsened. On other days, the part-time kids might be officially excused, but the competitive group girls will still have practice.
4. Parents - parents are given the authority to pull their kid from practice without any repercussions if they believe the weather is inappropriate for their kid
01/28/2014 10:22:59 AM
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We don't have an official school policy either, it is mostly up to the coaches' discretion. We have been outside everyday, except obviously when school is cancelled from weather. I do almost always give the option of working out indoor (usually sprinters) or outdoor (usually distance), when it is extremely cold. And I won't let them go out if not dressed appropriately. This is what happens when a school has a coach that lived in Iowa.
We don't have an official school policy either, it is mostly up to the coaches' discretion. We have been outside everyday, except obviously when school is cancelled from weather. I do almost always give the option of working out indoor (usually sprinters) or outdoor (usually distance), when it is extremely cold. And I won't let them go out if not dressed appropriately. This is what happens when a school has a coach that lived in Iowa.
01/28/2014 11:00:43 AM
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^^^^ If I had a nickel for every time Viren_Fan mentioned Iowa or Indiana before making us mush through sloppy weather I'd be able to retire from my meet coverage job. B-)
^^^^ If I had a nickel for every time Viren_Fan mentioned Iowa or Indiana before making us mush through sloppy weather I'd be able to retire from my meet coverage job.
01/28/2014 12:23:04 PM
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In New York we run blizzard or not and finish by eating ice cream. I guess I can understand why cold weather intimidates Kentucky.
In New York we run blizzard or not and finish by eating ice cream. I guess I can understand why cold weather intimidates Kentucky.
01/28/2014 2:00:00 PM
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Ours is coach's discretion as well. I've encouraged my kids to go outside when we've had school and team practice, but I've kind of softened on that over the years. Some days we stay in by design. I, too, grew up in Indiana (OK, Southern Indiana, but still), and we always went outside. I was a real hard-ass on getting outside when I was younger. But to be honest, I've learned a lot of great indoor workouts over the years. These are high school and middle school kids, and while I want them to be tough, we have plenty of time for that other than when it's zero wind chill outside. We can simulate almost any kind of workout inside and get good work done. It may not be ideal in some cases, but to tell you the truth, a lot of times we're getting more consistent hard effort on our indoor workouts than we are jogging around with 10 pounds of clothes on and having to be careful where each footfall lands so we don't bust our behinds on the ice.
Ours is coach's discretion as well. I've encouraged my kids to go outside when we've had school and team practice, but I've kind of softened on that over the years. Some days we stay in by design. I, too, grew up in Indiana (OK, Southern Indiana, but still), and we always went outside. I was a real hard-ass on getting outside when I was younger. But to be honest, I've learned a lot of great indoor workouts over the years. These are high school and middle school kids, and while I want them to be tough, we have plenty of time for that other than when it's zero wind chill outside. We can simulate almost any kind of workout inside and get good work done. It may not be ideal in some cases, but to tell you the truth, a lot of times we're getting more consistent hard effort on our indoor workouts than we are jogging around with 10 pounds of clothes on and having to be careful where each footfall lands so we don't bust our behinds on the ice.
01/28/2014 2:18:44 PM
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@BCrumbo Where do you do your indoor workouts?
@BCrumbo
Where do you do your indoor workouts?
01/28/2014 2:34:16 PM
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@medleyc Mostly hallways and stairwells. We can do a strength circuit workout almost anywhere that we have at least a 50m hallway. You can do almost anything, but my favorite is a 6-station circuit with 20 crunches, 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 step-ups, and 20 calf-raises, with about 100-200m tempo pace between each. We do 3-4 circuits with a rest between. Stair bounding is an excellent workout that simulates Lydiard hill bounds. I just try to emphasize to bound up the stairs rather than just running up. We might bound the stairs for 10-15 minutes, jog some, do another round on the stairs, etc. We also work on basic speed inside this time of year. Yesterday we did 10 x flying-30 with our distance kids: 25m acceleration, 30m all-out sprint working on form and speed. All you need for that is a straight hallway. The only thing that's tough to get indoors is tempo work, but I'm working on that. :) This is the first year since I've been at OC that we've had to do extensive indoor work, so I'm still working on logistics. We did a lot of this stuff at Fern Creek or Shelby Co. during hard winters.
@medleyc

Mostly hallways and stairwells. We can do a strength circuit workout almost anywhere that we have at least a 50m hallway. You can do almost anything, but my favorite is a 6-station circuit with 20 crunches, 20 push-ups, 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 step-ups, and 20 calf-raises, with about 100-200m tempo pace between each. We do 3-4 circuits with a rest between.

Stair bounding is an excellent workout that simulates Lydiard hill bounds. I just try to emphasize to bound up the stairs rather than just running up. We might bound the stairs for 10-15 minutes, jog some, do another round on the stairs, etc. We also work on basic speed inside this time of year. Yesterday we did 10 x flying-30 with our distance kids: 25m acceleration, 30m all-out sprint working on form and speed. All you need for that is a straight hallway.

The only thing that's tough to get indoors is tempo work, but I'm working on that. :) This is the first year since I've been at OC that we've had to do extensive indoor work, so I'm still working on logistics. We did a lot of this stuff at Fern Creek or Shelby Co. during hard winters.
01/30/2014 1:12:59 PM
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@BCrumbo Our situation is the same as Crumbo and others, coach's choice (with obvious consultation with the administration). We used to run in the hallways more (and had a 400m loop using 2 floors). Now we have less room because we have boys and girls lacrosse also conditioning in the same space. Crumbo, I was thinking about indoor tempos the other day. I know you wouldn't get the same psychological benefit as running a long steady tempo, but I'd guess you could get a similar physiological benefit from doing stuff above tempo pace for a short distance, then have a very short recovery. If the goal would be to consistently have a heart rate of 170-180 you could run maybe 3200m pace for 20 seconds, then take a short recovery, then repeat. I know that Marcus O'Sullivan at Villanova discusses this in one of his vidoes but not quite to this extreme. The obvious limits would be that the distance has to be long enough to raise your heart rate but not long enough to go anaerobic and the recovery has to be long enough to keep your heart rate from spiking but not so long that your heart rate goes way below the zone. O'Sullivan's contention was that this was a way for middle distance runners to do tempo work that was more specific to their race speed. Of course it would take a pretty savvy athlete that could listen to their bodies to execute it correctly. It would probably also help the body recover more quickly and improve work capacity.
@BCrumbo

Our situation is the same as Crumbo and others, coach's choice (with obvious consultation with the administration). We used to run in the hallways more (and had a 400m loop using 2 floors). Now we have less room because we have boys and girls lacrosse also conditioning in the same space.

Crumbo, I was thinking about indoor tempos the other day. I know you wouldn't get the same psychological benefit as running a long steady tempo, but I'd guess you could get a similar physiological benefit from doing stuff above tempo pace for a short distance, then have a very short recovery. If the goal would be to consistently have a heart rate of 170-180 you could run maybe 3200m pace for 20 seconds, then take a short recovery, then repeat. I know that Marcus O'Sullivan at Villanova discusses this in one of his vidoes but not quite to this extreme. The obvious limits would be that the distance has to be long enough to raise your heart rate but not long enough to go anaerobic and the recovery has to be long enough to keep your heart rate from spiking but not so long that your heart rate goes way below the zone.

O'Sullivan's contention was that this was a way for middle distance runners to do tempo work that was more specific to their race speed.

Of course it would take a pretty savvy athlete that could listen to their bodies to execute it correctly. It would probably also help the body recover more quickly and improve work capacity.
01/31/2014 7:38:02 AM
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At Western Hills, we can still hold practice when school has been called with approval from the Admin. There were 2 days last week that the school board said no to all sport practice. The good thing for us is basketball coaches fight like crazy to hold practice. I as a coach base outside practice around 30-32 degrees. I figure to a tough distance kid getting a solid workout in below can happen but how many days is wind not a factor. At hills one lap around the school is close to 200m with two 90 degree turns, but you can still get a solid workout in. I work anywhere between 200s up to 1000s. Most winters we aren't inside for long. Running on those hard floors with turns can put a lot of hurt on those legs. But I do feel one can get a solid workout in, as one who has run the halls with the team, you start to feel the effort when you are having to surge after each turn to get back to pace. On say Fridays I have had solid distance guys hold 5 mile light tempo pace well.
At Western Hills, we can still hold practice when school has been called with approval from the Admin. There were 2 days last week that the school board said no to all sport practice. The good thing for us is basketball coaches fight like crazy to hold practice. I as a coach base outside practice around 30-32 degrees. I figure to a tough distance kid getting a solid workout in below can happen but how many days is wind not a factor. At hills one lap around the school is close to 200m with two 90 degree turns, but you can still get a solid workout in. I work anywhere between 200s up to 1000s. Most winters we aren't inside for long. Running on those hard floors with turns can put a lot of hurt on those legs. But I do feel one can get a solid workout in, as one who has run the halls with the team, you start to feel the effort when you are having to surge after each turn to get back to pace. On say Fridays I have had solid distance guys hold 5 mile light tempo pace well.
01/31/2014 9:49:08 AM
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@theMike I can't recall the author or paper, but I recall reading something years back that said when you run threshold pace (or maybe faster), it's all about how much time you spend at that pace. This person's contention was that you can run a mile at something like threshold or you can run 32 x 50m @ threshold, but the physiological benefits are very similar. Although I think it's a mistake to only consider the physiological side of any workout, something like this would suggest that it's possible to do tempo or threshold work inside within a fairly small space. I get and appreciate the idea of being creative with inside work. It obviously takes time and effort to figure this stuff out, but before coaches start blindly following anyone's advice (including mine), it's important to remember your Winter goals. My perspective is that anything we do during the Winter is prep for Outdoor Track. If we can get in a regular routine of work over the Winter, then great. If the weather only allows us to do easy distance runs in our Winter coats, then great. I think it's a mistake to see Winter as a time period where, when you can't train a certain way for 1-2 weeks, you'll lose ground. With our team, we run outside. We don't run indoors unless I have a kid who has access to indoor fitness equipment or a pool. I watch the weather report each week and we shift our harder days to whatever day seems to allow those workouts. If we can't do set distance reps, then we do continuous running with sets of 3-4 minutes "on" and 1-2 minutes "off". For the most part, we can't train inside anyhow. The building is too small, we can't ever get in the gym, and running down the halls is typically an exercise in seeing how long it takes before you run into a janitor. In all honesty, I don't want our distance kids running down the hall anyway. We've done plenty of work on pretty cold days, and they're all coping pretty well. I don't have any science to back it up, but my feeling is that it doesn't matter how fast they actually go on cold Winter days anyway, it's about the effort they put into the run that matters. If that's the case, then even if we did wear 10 lbs of clothes to run in 10-15 degree weather, we can still do a pretty good workout - whether or not the actual pace is v-dot, vvo2, etc.
@theMike
I can't recall the author or paper, but I recall reading something years back that said when you run threshold pace (or maybe faster), it's all about how much time you spend at that pace. This person's contention was that you can run a mile at something like threshold or you can run 32 x 50m @ threshold, but the physiological benefits are very similar. Although I think it's a mistake to only consider the physiological side of any workout, something like this would suggest that it's possible to do tempo or threshold work inside within a fairly small space.

I get and appreciate the idea of being creative with inside work. It obviously takes time and effort to figure this stuff out, but before coaches start blindly following anyone's advice (including mine), it's important to remember your Winter goals. My perspective is that anything we do during the Winter is prep for Outdoor Track. If we can get in a regular routine of work over the Winter, then great. If the weather only allows us to do easy distance runs in our Winter coats, then great. I think it's a mistake to see Winter as a time period where, when you can't train a certain way for 1-2 weeks, you'll lose ground.

With our team, we run outside. We don't run indoors unless I have a kid who has access to indoor fitness equipment or a pool. I watch the weather report each week and we shift our harder days to whatever day seems to allow those workouts. If we can't do set distance reps, then we do continuous running with sets of 3-4 minutes "on" and 1-2 minutes "off". For the most part, we can't train inside anyhow. The building is too small, we can't ever get in the gym, and running down the halls is typically an exercise in seeing how long it takes before you run into a janitor.

In all honesty, I don't want our distance kids running down the hall anyway. We've done plenty of work on pretty cold days, and they're all coping pretty well. I don't have any science to back it up, but my feeling is that it doesn't matter how fast they actually go on cold Winter days anyway, it's about the effort they put into the run that matters. If that's the case, then even if we did wear 10 lbs of clothes to run in 10-15 degree weather, we can still do a pretty good workout - whether or not the actual pace is v-dot, vvo2, etc.
01/31/2014 9:49:38 AM
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@theMike I can see where that would work well for an individual workout, but I think it might be near impossible in a group setting. On that short of an interval, the temptation to "stay with the group" would be too much for most of them, and everybody but the top guy would end up running too fast, probably blowing up, and defeating the workout purpose. On the other hand, I'm probably too anal about pace on our tempo runs, anyway. I like to hit the track for specific pace ranges and checks on pace. Since our track is still snow-covered, I had to just send them out on a 20-minute tempo run on Wednesday, and watching them just killed me because I knew a lot of them were going either too fast or too slow (mostly too slow). But I try not to fret too much. At least we're getting workouts in.
@theMike

I can see where that would work well for an individual workout, but I think it might be near impossible in a group setting. On that short of an interval, the temptation to "stay with the group" would be too much for most of them, and everybody but the top guy would end up running too fast, probably blowing up, and defeating the workout purpose.

On the other hand, I'm probably too anal about pace on our tempo runs, anyway. I like to hit the track for specific pace ranges and checks on pace. Since our track is still snow-covered, I had to just send them out on a 20-minute tempo run on Wednesday, and watching them just killed me because I knew a lot of them were going either too fast or too slow (mostly too slow). But I try not to fret too much. At least we're getting workouts in.
01/31/2014 10:08:59 AM
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@professor I think you hit on something valuable: you work within the limitations of your environment. Indoor opportunities obviously vary significantly from school to school. We are pretty lucky in that we have a rather long building (I can get an almost 300m straight, although we rarely do that) and also that part of our building is three stories so we have stairs available. So we have a lot of space that gives us good indoor options. If we didn't, we'd be heading outside more on those really cold days. I also think you're correct in that "work is work" to a great extent. Whether you're outside chugging along in your winter clothes or inside doing circuit workouts, you're still getting or staying conditioned for later in the season. Also, I think there's a big distinction to made here between distance runners and sprinters. We don't sprint all out unless the temp is above 40 degrees, so almost all of our sprint work has been done inside so far.
@professor

I think you hit on something valuable: you work within the limitations of your environment. Indoor opportunities obviously vary significantly from school to school. We are pretty lucky in that we have a rather long building (I can get an almost 300m straight, although we rarely do that) and also that part of our building is three stories so we have stairs available. So we have a lot of space that gives us good indoor options. If we didn't, we'd be heading outside more on those really cold days.

I also think you're correct in that "work is work" to a great extent. Whether you're outside chugging along in your winter clothes or inside doing circuit workouts, you're still getting or staying conditioned for later in the season.

Also, I think there's a big distinction to made here between distance runners and sprinters. We don't sprint all out unless the temp is above 40 degrees, so almost all of our sprint work has been done inside so far.
01/31/2014 10:18:41 AM
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@BCrumbo Exactly. One added benefit is that those 25-30 degree days feel like summer after running in sub-20 for a while. Great point on sprinters. Although most distance kids seem to think that sprinters are weenies when it comes to cold weather, it's actually important for sprinters to avoid training in the colder weather and it's definitely possible to do lots of different types of sprint training with them inside.
@BCrumbo
Exactly. One added benefit is that those 25-30 degree days feel like summer after running in sub-20 for a while.

Great point on sprinters. Although most distance kids seem to think that sprinters are weenies when it comes to cold weather, it's actually important for sprinters to avoid training in the colder weather and it's definitely possible to do lots of different types of sprint training with them inside.
01/31/2014 11:04:07 AM
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JCPS' threshold for canceling after school activities is pretty close to mine, so it makes my decision-making pretty easy. In general, if after school activities are on, our distance group is running outside. If the roads get questionable, we have a lot of space to run off-road between FC Park, our athletic facility, the school grounds, and a nearby apartment complex. We'll move quality days around to get the best weather, but we've had some solid workouts on the track or school grounds this winter when the wind chill was in the teens or single digits. As others have said, I will send kids home if they aren't properly dressed for the weather. The term "dangerously cold" gets thrown around a lot this time of year. In northern states, if people stayed inside when the temperature was at Louisville media's "dangerously cold, don't go outside unless you have to" freak-out threshold, no one would set foot outdoors from December to February. It's about covering exposed skin, layering, and using common sense with your workouts. That being said, I won't run outside or send anyone else out if the wind chill is below -10.
JCPS' threshold for canceling after school activities is pretty close to mine, so it makes my decision-making pretty easy. In general, if after school activities are on, our distance group is running outside. If the roads get questionable, we have a lot of space to run off-road between FC Park, our athletic facility, the school grounds, and a nearby apartment complex. We'll move quality days around to get the best weather, but we've had some solid workouts on the track or school grounds this winter when the wind chill was in the teens or single digits.

As others have said, I will send kids home if they aren't properly dressed for the weather. The term "dangerously cold" gets thrown around a lot this time of year. In northern states, if people stayed inside when the temperature was at Louisville media's "dangerously cold, don't go outside unless you have to" freak-out threshold, no one would set foot outdoors from December to February. It's about covering exposed skin, layering, and using common sense with your workouts. That being said, I won't run outside or send anyone else out if the wind chill is below -10.

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