To many runners, as those who train for Boston marathon, winter is another season to adapt and find it pleasurable. However, many runners stop running or run indoors because they do not think running in cold weather and snow is fun and safe. If you are prepared and have a strategy to adapt your running in the typical cold New England winter, you will be pleasantly surprised and changed your attitude.
Facts and tips to help you run this winter:
- Fact, running in cold air cannot damage your lungs. If the cold air hurts your throat, breathe through a bandanna or a facemask to cover the nose and the area around the mouth.
- Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day and stay hydrated. Most people sweat about as much during winter runs as they do during summer runs, but many runners do not recognize dehydration as easily during the winter.
- Fact, the cold air reduces your flexibility of muscles and tendons. Warm up with a walk, jog or a run indoors on a treadmill for 5-15 minutes before running your normal pace. Cool down before you come indoors.
- Running in snow and slippery conditions can be treacherous for footing when using a long stride. Shorten your stride slightly for better stability, which keeps your feet directly underneath your body. This gives you more control and minimizes injury. Be careful on the down hills and turns when running in the dark. When the conditions are icy, limit the run to 30-45 minutes outside or workout indoors by running on the treadmill and/or do a spin class.
- Cover your hands with gloves and/or mittens and wear a hat or headband for the head and ears. On the feet, wear a thick layer sock or a double layer sock that are not cotton.
- Dress in layers that can be easily removed when you get too warm and put back when you are cold. The rule for dressing in winter: if you walk outside and feel comfortable then you are overdressed. Wear the new synthetic fabrics to keep you dry and warm. Good fabrics for the first layer are Coolmax and polypropylene, Lycra for the legs; the outer layer fabrics are polar fleece and Gore-Tex.
- When there is abundance of snow, snow shoe or cross-country ski.
Some runners like to continue doing speed workouts outside but they have some risks. Start the run with a good warm up 10-15 minutes, do pickups for 1-2 minutes then and easy jog for 3 minutes, follow by a cool down 10-15 minutes. These pickups should be gradual accelerations, not all out. If the weather changes during the workout, stop doing the pickups and jog back. It is better to postpone the workout to another day or do it indoors on the treadmill then continue it and pull a muscle or be injured.
Enjoy the winter and have a fun and safe run.