Despite what it may look like outside the window, spring is coming. With it comes all of the amazing spring races that Chicago and the suburbs host, but with a winter with this much cold and snow it can be difficult to be truly prepared for the first few events of the year. The biggest early race for much of Chicagoland runners is the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. Tera Moody, two time Shamrock champion, knows how to prepare for the spring kick-off race and wants to help other runners give their best despite this weather.
Moody spent the last few years bouncing between Boulder, Colorado and the Chicagoland area all while training for running events. If anyone knows how to prepare for a race despite not having ideal training conditions, it’s Moody. Now back in Chicago, the 33 year old offers helpful hints and tricks for local runners who need to get their bodies ready for the 8K in late March.
“This is certainly the worst winter I’ve trained in,” Moody said. “I ran the Houston Half Marathon and that’s in January so that was training in Colorado in the winter with heavy training in November, in December. I’ve definitely been out there battling the elements, but it wasn’t -43 degree wind-chill. But I do have a lot of training running in the snow and cold.”
Moody’s training comes with a dual attack on the winter, allowing runners to both get outside in the elements and learn how to prepare themselves inside on a treadmill. The key to both is finding the motivation, whether that be to fight the cold or embrace the treadmill. Moody said that she knows she is in the minority, but believes it’s easier for her to run inside on a machine. The biggest hurdle most people need to get past is the misconception that it is inherently boring, Moody said. The convenience of the treadmill can be perfect for the many runners who are also juggling other life events. Runners can get on the machine at any time in the day without worrying about early or late cold temperatures in the dark.
Treadmills also allow for runners of different levels to train together and socialize like they wouldn’t be able to outdoors. Two runners of complete different ability levels can push each other the same way two elites would outside. In terms of the actual training, Moody said that there are a few key reasons that a treadmill should be used in winter weather. Not only does it allow for consistent training and speed without having to run through traffic, but there is also never any ice on a treadmill that can quickly end not only a training run but jeopardize the race itself with an injury.
While the treadmill is an important training tool, it’s crucial to get outside to truly prepare for any road race. To get outside in rough weather, Moody recommends motivation and layers. Most runners know the importance of layers, sleeves and moisture wicking apparel. Moody also emphasizes the use of multiple layers of gloves and neck warmers. Similarly, Moody said runners should not be afraid of any fashion faux pas.
“I never used to run in a face mask in Colorado,” Moody said. “But this winter I have used it quite a bit. I’m not the height of fashion out there but it comes in handy.”
Sometimes the most difficult part of running outside can be simply convincing oneself to take that first step out the door. Moody has found a few ways to trick herself into lacing up her running shoes in some rough weather. One way is to turn your training run into an event with other people. When training with a group, each runner feels the pressure to show up and work so they don’t let down their friends.
While groups aren’t always convenient, coffee usually is. Moody said that she will bring her Starbucks card with her on run so she can treat herself after a training run. This also gets her out the door a little easier. When getting outside Moody said the most important part is just getting started. Convince yourself to just go for a 10 or 20 minute run, Moody said. Once outside the body takes over and runners will get in their full training session no matter how long that may be.
Moody hasn’t run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle since 2010 when she was the first overall female to finish. The year before that she posted a second place finish only behind American 8K record holder and current Shamrock Shuffle course record holder Deena Kastor. Moody also posted a victory in 2007. The two-time winner has been active in 2013 and accumulated a number of wins leading into her return to Shamrock. Although she said her strongest race is the marathon, Moody said this distance is a great speed workout for her. She is looking to set a new PR and beat her current 26:32 time she posted late last year at Chicago’s Turkey Trot 8K. Moody said her most important goal is the PR, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be shooting for the top of the podium.
“I’m certainly competitive. I’d love to win again but you can’t control what other people are going to run,” Moody said. “I would be happy if I gave my absolute best effort and earned my best time more so than if I ran a bad race and won.”
**Photo Above Courtesy of Chad Marek 2014