Walking to class against the crisp, blistering wind on a cold February morning is never an exciting moment for students and faculty.
You are left with your nose running, your eyes watering and your face as red as an apple from frost bite.
“Fifty-five degrees or higher is my kind of weather,” athletic trainer Chris Watson said. “You won’t be seeing much of me outside anything below that.”
But what might really be the “icing” on the cake, or as I should say street, is how one could possibly train through the snowy, unpredictable weather of Canton, Ohio.
Breed of their own
Many people may define Malone’s long–distance runners as being a bit insane for their commitment to train outdoors regarding the winter weather.
Through snowy storms, icy roads and cold fronts you can always count on seeing one of the Pioneer runners outside fighting against the weather.
“I always see a pack of runners training together in the cold,” said sophomore communications major Casey Stevens. “My first initial thought is to start blaring “Eye of the Tiger” when I drive by. They are crazy.”
“Walking to class in this weather is a struggle,” said senior exercise science major Zach Renner. “So the thought of training in it makes me hurt.”
Although the Pioneer runners may be easily taken as creatures of their own, the runners on campus find every cold experience to be an adventure.
“I personally can’t stand the treadmill,” junior runner Nick Fresenko said. “ It just isn’t as exciting as running outside, so I think if anyone has the proper clothing on they should always pick running outside over inside.”
“Training inside is boring,” senior Tony Migliozzi said. “Training outside will make you tougher and more of a man.”
Migliozzi, who is the Pioneer’s highest mileage runner, runs on average approximately 105 miles per week and has hit up to 130 miles a week this past winter, all in which were from running outdoors.
Along with other runners such as Fresenko, many of the male long-distance runners range from 70-90 miles a week; this is still an extremely large amount of time spent in the cold.
“I have only run two runs on the treadmill this winter,” Fresenko said. “So I have spent much of my time running outside.”
Mind over matter
Though they may seem a bit radical for running under 20 degree weather, Pioneer long-distance runners keep their bodies and minds warm by a mental training mechanism.
“I have to mentally prepare myself for the cold and tell myself ‘I’m going to be cold so get use to it,’” Fresenko said. “And I do it.”
[pullquote]”Training inside is boring,” senior Tony Migliozzi said. “Training outside will make you tougher and more of a man.”[/pullquote]
“We all know that it is cold outside,” Migliozzi said. “But we also know that our bodies usually warm up three miles into a run. We have a good support group and we keep each other accountable. So it really isn’t too bad.”
With a good attitude and the right support system, running outdoors in the cold can be a much more bearable experience.
But what else is key to staying warm and being safe?
Having a driven attitude and good support system can make any goal easier, but when it comes to the cold misery of Canton you had best be dressed for what is coming ahead.
Dressing warm and bundling up is always a key essential to staying warm and keeping body temperature at a proper rate.
“Making sure you have appropriate clothing is always important,” Migliozzi said. “A warm hat to cover your ears and head, thick gloves and socks and about three layers of clothes is usually what [we] wear when it is nearly freezing out. “
“You always want to be dressed properly,” Fresenko said. “I wear a lot of layers and usually always have hat and gloves.”
Keeping your head warm is one of the key tips to retaining body heat. Always having ear muffs or a big enough hat is a great way to keep your head warm.
Wearing running tights and some form of sweat pants over them is always a good way to layer up .
For tops, you can usually wear another form of body armor under a long sleeve shirt with a sweat shirt over it.
Shorts and a long sleeve just won’t cut it in this dangerously cold weather, especially for muscle stability and motion.
Keeping your muscles warm and loose is important to preventing injuries in the cold. One way to warm up muscles before training in the cold is by warming up in the wellness center prior to a run outside so that muscles are warm and ready to go.
But at what point do these athletes call it quits for the outdoors and resort to a treadmill?
Drawing the line
Although it may take a lot for these runners not to train outside, there is a breaking point for them. They are human after all!
“I don’t have an actual temperature of when I say it’s too cold,” Fresenko said. “But whenever it is slippery and icy and becomes a danger, I run on the treadmill.
“Those days usually differ between one another and I think my line is drawn and I can finally say ‘I can’t handle this today.’”
“Less than 10 degrees is usually my cutoff point if it is a work out,” Migliozzi said. “Bad conditions also plays a whole. If it is really icy and there is a risk of me falling, then I will train on the treadmill.”
But what if the wellness center is full?
“There are also other outlets when we cannot run outside,” Migliozzi said. “We go to another indoor facility since Malone doesn’t have one.”
“We have passes to the Dome in Jackson and run there,” Fresenko said. “But sometimes you just got to go out to the roads and find the best solution for work outs. Coach Hazen clears off the track as best as he can though and for the most part we have been able to practice there.”
There is no doubt that Canton will forever amaze us with its unpredictable weather, but with the proper gear and right attitude, anyone can run through the gusty winds and frightful weather of Canton.
From the crazy attitudes of Pioneer long-distance runners to someone just making their way to a two mile run in 30 degree weather, everyone has the capacity to train through this unbreakable winter weather.