Winter Running Tips and Reality Checks

If you’re near the 49th parallel or North of there, you probably have a better idea of what real cold is, and all the extra challenges that come from it.

With the holidays I had a chance to take my eldest son (2 years old, and will be known from here on out as ‘Shark Boy’) out in the Chariot on a run.  It was pretty cold, so precautions needed to be taken.  Around this time of year there are plenty of articles about how to accommodate the colder temperatures, and most of them repeat a lot of the same good advice.  I’ll take this one from and look at some of the tips while adding what they really entail:

  • Gear Up: Wear trail shoes or a traction device like Yak Trax. They will give you better traction and stability in the snow.  The problem with this advice is that traction devices work best when there is ice and snow, but that isn’t the case for 100% of your run.  Sometimes the sidewalks are clear due to diligent neighbours, so wearing your traction devices on concrete is uncomfortable and you’re better off without them… until you hit that patch of snow/ice than hasn’t been cleared.  The best option I’ve found is to be able to take them off or put them on as needed.  When you’re not using them, you have to be able to carry them: run a belt through them or stick them in a pack you’re carrying.
  • Take Extra Time To Warm Up: Your body will warm up more slowly in cold weather, especially if you run in the morning. Take at least five minutes to walk briskly before you start to run.  It’s especially true if it’s been a while since you ran and you need to get used to extra pounds you’ve put on from the holidays, or simply the different equipment you might be wearing/carrying due to the season.  Don’t rush, take your time (this will come up again).
  • Accessorize: Having the right apparel makes all the difference in the world. Layering is the key to avoiding over- or under-dressing.  Putting on all that extra gear takes extra time; you’ve got to integrate it with your iPod/phone/whatever and any other running accessories.  Same thing when you’re done, it takes that much longer to strip and hit the shower so budget for that extra time.  It will probably come out of your time to actually run, when you take real life into account.
  • Run During Light and Warmer Times of Day: If possible, run during daylight hours so you can absorb that needed sunshine we rarely get in the winter.  Sure, this works great if you have the day off like I did on the 27th.  Otherwise, that might mean running at lunch, where time is already way too limited.  You will probably run in the dark.
  • Hydrate: It is just as important to drink fluids in your winter runs as it is in the summer. Bring a bottle of water along with you, especially if you’re like me and the only drink you had before dashing out was a cup of coffee (which dehydrates).

For all that extra time and effort, I’d still rather be out there than on a treadmill; I want the 2012 Winter season to have as much running as I can fit in!

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