11 Winter Adjustments Runners Should Make from 11 Winter Adjustments Runners Should Make
11 Winter Adjustments Runners Should Make
11 Winter Adjustments Runners Should Make
Running outside in the winter may sound like an extreme sport or a crazy endeavor, but, in reality, it’s one of the most pleasant jogging experiences if you know what you’re doing. The cool crisp air is refreshing and energizing, the lack of crowds on the streets is a nice bonus, and some running gear is very stylish. You have to be prepared if you want to avoid setbacks that will ruin your running regimen and potentially get you in a vicious cycle of staying home and feeling too tired to hit the road again.
Don’t run on ice
It’s dangerous. “My father fell while running on ice, broke his hip, and never ran again,” Fitzgerald says. So why risk it? Simply go around the ice and keep running. However, you don’t always know where the ice is before you actually step on it. So, just in case, you may want to consider wearing trail shoes or a traction device for better stability. When in doubt, walk.
Take smaller steps
“On snow, your brain will automatically adjust your stride by taking smaller steps and being more conscious of touching your foot to the ground in a stable fashion,” Fitzgerald says. Expect to slip at any time so you can react quickly, he adds.
Cover your feet and shins
Snow can change quickly – one minute you’re running on powder and the next on rock-hard snow. “Wear high-quality trail running shoes that are designed to protect your feet against the elements,” Fitzgerald says. Wear tights and possibly also shoe protectors to keep snow from getting inside your shoes and wetting your socks, he adds.
Pay attention to the fabric
“Wear technical running apparel made from materials that trap heat and wick away moisture,” Fitzgerald says. “Wear enough clothing so that you are slightly uncomfortably cold before you start and for the first few minutes of running.” If you are nice and warm before your body starts to generate heat from muscle work, you will overheat in the middle of the run, he adds.
Overdressing and wearing too many layers is not an uncommon mistake. After all, it’s cold outside. Figuring out the right amount of clothes just takes a little practice, Fitzgerald says. “Temperature sensitivity is highly individual. If you’ve never run in a particular weather situation before, use your judgment to dress appropriately and then start your run with a few laps around your block.” If you’re too warm or too cold after fully warming up, duck back inside and make an adjustment, he adds. “After that first mistake you will know how to dress the next time.”
“You want footwear that has a rugged outsole with a good tread designed for traction on slick surfaces,” Fitzgerald says. “But the shoe should also be low to the ground for greater stability and balance.” The upper should be tough as well, and water resistant, he adds.
Choose a route where you can bail out
Some runners carry a space blanket in case of an emergency. However, “if you ever end up in a situation where you need a space blanket, you’ll need more than a space blanket,” Fitzgerald says. “If conditions are truly harsh, simply choose a route that allows you to bail out safely whenever you may need to (i.e., a route that stays close to home and/or populated areas), let a family member or friend know where you’re going and when you expect to return, and carry your cellphone.”
Avoid water crossings
Let common sense rule here, Fitzgerald says, when it comes to running over certain surfaces. Crossing water is a bad idea. “Avoid deep snowdrifts and roads lacking clear shoulders or sidewalks to run on,” he adds. “There’s also such a thing as too cold. Some days you just need to suck it up and use the treadmill!”
Run on major roads
Be smart and choose the best places where you’re likely to find paved and clear running paths. Where they are depends on where you live. “Typically, the most major roads will get the most maintenance attention and be safest for running,” Fitzgerald says. “But if you don’t know, ask other runners in your area who routinely run through the winter. They’ll know.”
Wear a face mask
“There are face masks designed especially for outdoor exercise that offer the right combination of breathability and protection,” Fitzgerald says. Facemasks can be a good idea especially if you have allergies or are prone to coughing fits and dry lungs.
Use Vaseline for extra protection
The wind can do a lot of damage to your skin even if you don’t feel it right away. Try to run with it when you can but this is not always an option. Apply Vaseline to exposed skin parts – face, lips, fingers – for extra protection against the cold and wind. This can also help you run longer in case bitter winds suddenly appear.