With fall upon us we face new challenges to our running programs with a drop in temperature and potentially hazardous running conditions. Here are some suggestions to keep you warm, happy, and healthy while exercising through the winter months.
-Do a solid warm up for 5-7 minutes before your workout. This may include jogging in place in your home before you leave, walking quickly to get your core temperature up before your run outdoors, or stretching.
-Choose a safe route, including plenty of lighting, and safe stable footing such as a path or groomed trail. Be wary of ice patches, piles of wet leaves, or rocks. Whether you are walking or running, you may even choose a shorter loop that is close to your home that can be performed multiple times in case you slip or get too wet. Try to plan your route in an area that provides cover from wind or excessive rain, such as a street lined with trees.
-Perform a brief cool down to avoid getting overly chilled following your exercise. This may include a brief stretch, or decreasing your pace gradually for the last 3-5 minutes of exercise before stopping exercise completely.
-Keep well hydrated! It is easy to become dehydrated in winter because you do not notice your sweat loss as well as you would during the summer months. Carry a water bottle with you under your layers to keep it warmer, or carry a camel back hydration system or belt.
-Wear layers that can easily be removed and packed as over dressing can lead to excessive sweating and dehydration. Be sure that the layer closest to your skin is of a dry-fit material to keep skin dry and prevent blisters and chaffing. Wear gloves, a hat or ear warmer, and warm, breathable socks, as your fingers and toes are generally the first to loose blood flow and become cold.
See my post on running gear for my favorite layers and equipment that get me through all weather and running conditions throughout the year:
-With darkness entering early and leaving later in the day, be sure to wear a reflective vest, a headlamp, and perhaps a tail light. The safest setting on the tail light has been shown to be a consistent red or white light, as opposed to a blinking light. Blinking lights have been shown to distract drivers on the road and can lead to an accident.
Above all, enjoy yourself, and if push comes to shove, hit the treadmill. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Make your day great,