Tuesday, January 26, 2016
~Run For L'Arche 2016: 5 Winter Running Tips~
When I first started running about 8 years ago, I would run from about April till October and stop for the winter. I wasn't a fan of treadmill running, and I needed a bit of a break from then triathlon training.
A couple years after doing that, and having to start at what felt like square one in the spring with my running, I decided to continue running in the winter. At first I did some solo runs outside in the cold, dark and snowy sidewalks, and then we invested in a treadmill. I wasn't really a fan of the treadmill though so it didn't get used that much that first winter.
The next winter (2010), I had done my first half marathon in the fall and had fallen in love with that distance. I found an amazing running group and so I started training for my next half marathon, in February! Running in the winter is very different, at least where I am. The weather and road conditions really become a factor in staying safe.
So here are my tips that I have learned over the years for running safely in the winter:
1. Be prepared- know the conditions. Dress for the temperature, and the wind chill. Layer, layer, layer! It's not about looking good, it's about staying warm! Last year I put together a running attire guide that I refer to depending on the temperature and conditions. Invest in good layers, a pair of shoe grips, a warm hat and gloves. Maybe even a balaclava if you are brave! I also suggest bringing a dry, warm set of clothes to change into right after your run is done, if you aren't running to/from home. Nothing worse than freezing post run because your running clothes are all sweaty!
2. Be flexible- sometimes you need to alter your training plans because the conditions don't allow for your scheduled run. Often I will change my long run when I know a snow storm is going to blow in the day I'm supposed to do it. Or I will run on the treadmill so that I don't risk falling on the ice and injuring myself.
3. Stay hydrated- just because it isn't hot outside doesn't mean you don't need water! Make sure you hydrate well before going out for your run. If you do carry water while running (I do when running 10K+), make sure you do what you can to prevent it from freezing! Start by filling your bottles with warm water. You can also wear your water belt (or camelback) under your jacket, protecting it from the wind. Having Gatorade or other sugary drink has a lower freezing temperature. Some people also like to carry a hand-held water bottle so that the heat of their hand reduces the freezing, however running with a handheld water bottle only hurts my back (puts me off balance).
4. Run with someone or let someone know your planned route and approximate length of your run- when running in the winter there are so many other factors to think about- cold, ice, snow, and with those come potential hazards. I've slipped on the ice and fallen while running in the winter, as have a number of my running friends. A few times people (not me) have had to go to the hospital for stitches or for concussions due to falls. It's also good to carry ID and your emergency contact information, so the Road ID is a great thing to have on you while running or cycling, winter or not. I have a Road ID bracelet that my husband bought me.
5. Have fun! This may not be the time to go for a personal best. It is not worth risking injury so I like to think of winter races and running as just a way to stay in shape and keep me prepared for the races later in the year that don't have snow and ice to slow me down. Slow is better than injured! That being said, my two personal best half marathon times are from races in February so it really does depend on the conditions of race day and the training runs leading up to the race.
What's your winter running tip?