10 TIPS FOR WINTER RUNS30 September, 2014 0 comments
Winter is Coming
10 Tips to Keep You Safe On Your Winter Run
Winter may be coming, but if you take the right precautions there is no reason for you to stop your outdoor runs. A few days of indoor running on a treadmill may be unavoidable, but Sherry Ballou Hanson of competitor.com says that keeping to some basic safety guidelines will keep those days to a minimum. If you are new to winter running, you may not be aware of the dangers that runners can face if unprepared, so here are a few pointers to help you keep to your running schedule over the coming winter months.
Warm Up Properly
Your muscles will face a heavier strain in the cold weather, and it would be foolhardy to expect them to react the same in freezing temperatures as they do in warmer weather. Make sure that you take longer over your warm up, and concentrate more on your calf and thigh muscles. Keeping to your regime is a great idea all year round, but damaging your muscles through a lack of preparation makes the cold work outs pointless. If it is very cold, don’t push yourself too hard, as you can always do that in more clement weather.
Choose the Right Clothes
Your choice of running clothes is vital for your safety and comfort, and you should never risk running in bleak winter weather in a make do outfit. The trick with cold weather is to layer your clothes. A thick padded jacket is not the way to go when running, so choose thinner clothes and the right materials. Your bottom layer should be made of a fabric that draws the sweat away from your body and into the next layer (wicking) and something like polypropylene or silk is ideal for this, whereas cotton is a definite material to avoid. Whether you use 2 or 3 layers will depend on the circumstances, but if it is really cold you should be looking at an insulator like fleece, and a top layer of water resistant but breathable material like Gore-Tex. If the weather is not too cold, you can simply ignore the middle layer.
Footwear and Gloves
You will lose a tremendous amount of your body heat through your hands and feet, so having great (not just good) quality gloves is a must. With a potential loss of 30% of your body heat possible investing in quality will keep you safe and comfortable. In your choice of gloves and socks you will want material that wicks the sweat away, but should be water and wind resistant as a minimum. You can buy hand warmers that a great help, and wearing mittens to help your fingers share body heat is something that winter runners should think about. Whatever your choice to keep your hands and feet insulated, remember to keep yourself comfortable too. Never wear running shoes that are too small for your newly padded feet, you are asking for foot problems in the future.
Just because it is winter and there may be snow on the floor and rain in the air, it doesn’t mean your body needs less water. Drinking fluids in the winter is as vital as it is in the summer, and you should be carrying your own water in case none is available on your run. As with any run, you should not only drink on the run, but before and after too.
If you are running in the winter, you could find yourself running in the evenings. This is a perilous time for runners as, unfortunately, not everybody is vigilant as they should be. As this is the case, make sure that you help them see you. Wear high visibility, reflective clothing or bands, and make sure that they are clean enough to reflect any light. At the other end of the scale, make sure that you wear clothing that will keep you visible in a snow covered landscape. When running against a white background avoid black as it can be confused as being too many things. Use bright colors like orange for the best effect.
Wear a Hat
We have already discussed heat loss through the hands and feet, but you could also lose as much as 40% of your body heat through your head; so cover it up. A lined hat is usually fine, but in bad conditions you should consider a balaclava which will also protect your face from any wind chill. Another thing you should consider is wearing a scarf, which will also protect your face and warm up the air you breath.
Be Prepared to Strip
If you have ignored some of these suggestions, you may find yourself in a situation where stripping down is your only option. If you have failed to wear a layer of water resistant clothing and it starts to rain, you could quite quickly start to suffer from hypothermia, and the same is true if you have too much clothing and have started to sweat. Without the inner layer of clothing that has wicking properties to take away sweat, you could find the sweat freezing on your body. In conditions where the temperature is below freezing, it is possible for your sweat to freeze on your skin. If your clothes are wet, you should try to find somewhere warm as quickly as you can, and get out of the wet clothes immediately.
Take a Cell Phone.
It is wise to take a cell phone with you on any run, but in the winter you should think of it as a necessity. If you have gone too far in bad conditions, or you perhaps slip on some ice, having a cell phone with you could save your life. It is also a good idea to let somebody know the route you are running, as if you do have any difficulty, they will know roughly where to find you.
These suggestions may lead you to think that running in the winter cold is too dangerous, but the idea is to make your run as safe as possible. If you follow all of these suggestions you should be fine, and your winter running can be as much fun as the summer runs you are used to.