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Stay Warm, Keep the Goggle Marks Fresh

By David Demres | Feb. 24, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

My goggle marks typically let my co-workers know what I've been up to at lunch.

This just in: goggle marks, as it turns out, are not work appropriate.

The theme of the last two months has been: swim fast, and swim often. Repetitive sets of 25s (up to 75x) and 50s (up to 50x) have been my bread-and-butter, learning how to swim quickly and efficiently, regardless of how short the workout or how much rest is needed. An extreme focus on biomechanics in order to become a faster swimmer, not just a fitter one; the two can be very different. I learned this in college, running for Yale: pounding out miles and becoming the fittest doesn’t always win you the races. But to swim 6 times a week alongside cycling, running, and keeping my day job demands some creativity. This sometimes means pulling off the “compressions socks are business casual” look, or leaving to splash around during lunch, only to hurry back more hungry than when I left (which must have puzzled my office, at first). But I get the absolute worst goggle marks, and they give me away every time.

Needless to say, my co-workers have grown suspicious.

This is the track that my dad and I shoveled clean, just to get in a workout on a winter day.

It finally got cold in the Northeast earlier this month. But if there is anything I pride myself on in being from Michigan, it is being able to run in the cold and snow. I will never forget my first winter break home in Michigan during college, when it snowed for two weeks straight. Getting anxious about my fitness and being taunted by teammates training shirtless in California, I got fed up and called up my biggest sponsor and fan (my dad) for help. For over an hour the two of us shoveled out a giant oval 1.5 lanes wide around the track. Just enough to run 1k repeats.

5000 x shovel might not be an ideal warm-up routine. But experimenting with your limits in bad weather is really the only way to train consistently in the cold. Otherwise it’s easy to fall into the “all-or-nothing” mentality and not do a workout at all. Luckily, my winter breaks in Michigan and college running background in Connecticut taught me how to dress for any wintery occasion. A quick tip: this always involves layering. A cold, below-freezing morning warm-up starts with a bundle of shorts, tights, pants, two shirts, a running jacket, arm warmers, hat, and gloves (decent socks actually are the best mittens) to start, then sheds down to an odd assortment of layers for the actual workout. It’s the only way I’ve been able to run my weekly 15x300 workout for the past couple of months in the New England winter (even with running, the offseason focus is biomechanics… staying quick on 30 miles a week running is almost as hard as learning to get quick in the pool!).

I ran in college but training for triathlon is a bit different.

Collegiate runners have three seasons a year, so a race is always around the corner. The toughest transition to triathlon is right now: training for a race that’s months away (my first is May 23), and still getting to sleep at 9 p.m. to wake up at 5 a.m. to run like crazy in the snow. For me it takes some serious faith, some believing without knowing, and my absurd conviction in the athletes’ American Dream. That, along with those priceless moments when you pack a shovel to go to the track, defines whether you’re going to be good or average.

Who else is at war with the winter weather this month?