After running 29 consecutive Boston Marathons and 52 total marathons in his lifetime, Mark Buciak knows a thing or two about training in the winter. While this is not the case for the majority of the running clubs in Chicago, Buciak has observed that membership in his running club actually increases as the Chicago temperatures decrease.
"Contrary to what one might normally believe, I have more runners in the winter program than I do in the summer program," said the 48-year-old from Chicago.
Because of the timing of the Boston Marathon (the third Monday of April), the winter may be the busiest time of the year for Buciak, who serves as the full time coach and program director of the Road to Boston Running Club. In addition to his 22-week training program, Buciak also holds a three day running camp in February to help runners prepare for the marathon.
In contrast, because The Chicago Marathon usually takes place in early October, the bulk of the training for its runners occurs in the summer. Yet, according to Northwestern University senior Lindsay Klecka, a two-time participant in the Chicago Marathon, the sense of group motivation is still present.
"You know that there are all these other people around you doing the same thing and you just think 'I can do this too'," said the 21-year-old Violin Performance and Instrumental Music Education major.
While Klecka does not usually run in large groups, she still enjoys the companionship of other runners, and she noted that especially in the winter, running with others is important.
"It's easier to fall in the winter and twist your ankle," Klecka said. "You do not want to be by yourself."
In a city known for its brutally cold winters, many chose to stay indoors during the winter and utilize a treadmill or a track at a local gym. And according to Colleen Hirst of the Beverly Area Running Club, membership does "drop dramatically" during the winter. Yet for Hirst, the colder weather simply means more preparation.
"Generally if you just wear warmer clothes, put Vaseline on your face, and put something over your nose and mouth, you're pretty much set to go," said the 51-year-old retired law enforcement agent from Chicago.
Thus, while Buciak, Klecka, and Hirst all have differing approaches to running in the winter, like many running groups in Chicago, these three are united by their love for running and their ability to recognize the cold weather not as a permanent obstacle, but as just one more hurdle in the life of a Chicago runner.