Winter Running

Posted: January 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Since most of us are in the midst of training for the 2012 Boston Marathon, we have no choice but to face the challenges of training through the New England winter.  We have been extremely fortunate to this point with respect to the moderate temperatures and lack of snowfall.  But I suspect we’re finally going to see more typical weather for this time of year.

Here are a few recommendations that I have for managing the challenges of winter running:

Clothing

  • Dressing for temperatures 20 degrees warmer will prevent you from becoming too warm in the latter miles of the run.
  • Avoid cotton entirely.  Wicking material will keep you dry and reduce the chances of becoming hypothermic.
  • Wear a thin base layer close to your body and add needed layers based on the conditions.
  • Most of your body heat will escape through your head and hands.  I prefer fleece hats and gloves.
  • Zippers allow you to regulate your core temperature.  I begin my runs with the zippers on my jacket and top fully closed.  As my body temperature rises I unzip them and close them again in the closing miles as my resources are low and the need to retain body heat is greater.
  • Wear reflective material, particularly on your wrists and ankles, as the movement from these body parts is more likely to catch the attention of motorists.
  • Change into warm and comfortable clothes immediately upon completing your runs. 

Shoes

  • Trail Running  shoes are a great option on snow and ice covered roads as they tend to have more traction and structure.
  • Yak Trax and similar outsole options are great for ice covered roads.
  • You can also place small screws into the lugs of your outsoles where your feet strike the road.  This can become problematic when you’re running on a dry surface, however.  I recommend this option for the worst possible conditions. 
  • Placing duct tape over the front/top of your shoes will help keep your feet warm on arctic days.

Miscellaneous

  • One of the more common misconceptions is that you don’t have to hydrate as much in colder temperatures.  I actually stay more hydrated in the winter as the lack of humidity is problematic.  It’s also far better for your skin.
  • Runners tend to be less disciplined with sunscreen during the winter months.  I recommend protecting your exposed skin as much as possible.  Wearing proper sunglasses are equally important.
  • On extremely cold and windy days I apply vaseline to my face to prevent chafing.
  • Begin your runs into the wind so that you will have some reserves for the closing miles of your runs.
  • Avoid roads with heavy traffic when signficant snow forces you to run more in the road.

I urge you to make winter running fun.  Running on trails will protect you from the wind.  And if you really want a challenge, try running on snowshoes as the return on time investment is considerable.  Like most things in life, running through the New England winter is so affected by your mindset.  Embrace the winter and realize you’ll be better prepared for the Boston Marathon because of the challenges you’ve overcome!

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