Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tips for running with Old Man Winter.

I would like to share some tips I have uncovered the past few days as I have been preparing to run this weekend in what will prove to be a treacherous race? Weather has been wrecking havoc on our long runs this training season. I have to chuckle at the thought that our week days are great…sunny and decent tempts, then the weekends come and boy the story changes. Our first weekend out of the shoot our run was canceled due to dangerously low wind chills, the next two weeks we had pouring rain to deal with, and this weekend we are supposed to have another huge snow event. Are you kidding me? Training in these conditions allows us to be prepared for anything that may come our way during a marathon; nevertheless I will say I do not have such an optimistic outlook when I am actually running in this crumminess.

What is that you say………..oh you want me to get back to the point of this post and not ramble on about my mental motivation or lack thereof when I have to run in not so pleasurable conditions. Okay, okay back to the basics of running in cold, ice, snow, or whatever Old Man Winter decides he wants to toss at you.

Wind chills can make running outside very dangerous. It is recommended that when the outside temperature is below 0 or the wind chill reaches a balmy -20 it might be best to get those feet moving on a treadmill rather than the city streets.

Remember 30% of your heat escapes through your hands and feet so make sure they are well insulated. Gloves such as these shown below are a great recommendation being they wick moisture away from your hands. You can add a disposable heat packet to your gloves or mittens. I have personally never used them for running, but I use them every time I go skiing, and they are AMAZING! Let's not forget the feet, add a wicking sock liner to your arsenal of winter gear, under a wool or thick sock of your choice. Just make sure you have enough room in your shoes to still run comfortably.

DO NOT WEAR COTTON!!! Sorry for screaming that at you, but please remember to not wear cotton it traps your sweat and keeps you wet during your entire run. Being your body creates its own wind chill, cotton will only make it colder for you. There is a fine line between dressing for the weather and not over dressing. The recommendation is to start with a thin synthetic material that will wick your sweat, then a breathable layer such as Gore-Tex. If Old Man Winter is bearing down with a vengeance you may need a middle layer of fleece for added insulation. Experts, which I certainly do not fall into that category, suggest runners dress for 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside because you will warm up once you get started.

As statistics state 40% of your body heat exists through your head. That being said it is critical for comfort, circulation, safety, and health that you cover up that thinking cap. Depending on how cold it is, you might consider a face mask as well in order to avoid stinging those lungs when you breathe in the cold air. Another good way to help keep the burning lungs at bay is warm up inside for 10 mins. This, more times than not, decreases the chemicals that cause inflammation which results in lung pain.

Often times we don't think about dehydration in the winter like we do during the warmer months. However, the colder months may increase your risk of dehydration due to the simple fact runners just don't think about it as much in the cooler months. It is critical to drink water or Gatorade before, during, and after your run. Also keep in mind the wind dehydrates you so start your run into the wind and your return leg with the wind at your back.

I think these few tips will get us going and keep us strong as we continue to battle Old Man Winter for the next couple of months. Oh, one last tid bit, take it easy. You're body is at a higher risk of injury on cold days. So take time to warm up and make your run an easy one. There are many more days that will be warmer in order for you to push yourself harder.

Happy Running,

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