I gotta admit – winter is my favourite time of the year to run outside. The trees are beautiful, you burn more calories digging through the snow and I don’t feel as over-heated as I do when running in the summer. Don’t share my enthusiasm for winter running? Then here’s a few tips on how to take the chill out of your winter run so you can enjoy it too:
1. PILE ON THE LAYERS
The base should be a synthetic, moisture-wicking fabric; the middle layer should be a fleece; and the outer layer should be a windbreaker to protect against blustery weather and precipitation. But you don’t want to feel toasty. You should dress to run so that when you run out of the door, you should feel cold because at the end of your run, even if it’s only 20 or 30 minutes, you’re going to be sweaty. Thick cotton is a go-to winter fabric for everyday use but its a greedy fabric, it absorbs moisture and holds onto it. When cotton fibres get wet, they become coarser, becoming a breeding ground for blisters and chafing. Synthetics with “dry fit” or “dry weave” labels are best.
2. WINTERIZE YOUR SHOES
The most common injuries winter runners suffer are falls – buy a pair of shoes designed for the season that are more wind and water-resistant with a multi-directional tread pattern on the soles. If you don’t want to make that kind of investment, you can strap traction devices – such as the ones manufactured by Yaktrax – onto the soles of your running shoes to get a good grip. A DIY option is putting sheet metal screws on the bottom of your shoes.
(It might also be worth upgrading the size of your shoes for the winter to accommodate double-layered socks).
3. CHOOSE CLEARED RUNNING SURFACES
You may burn more calories trying to race through piles of snow, but a cleared sidewalk, road or trail will help you maintain a steady pace.
4. PROTECT YOUR FACE
Slather a protective layer of wind-blocker on exposed skin. My budget-friendly pick? Vaseline, though many sports stores carry non-greasy formulas that can be applied with a stick.
5. USE THE ELEMENTS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Before you strap on your gear for a January jog, check the weather conditions – Even more important than the temperature is the wind direction – make sure you’re running against it first, and with it on the way home. You might also want to adjust your running schedule in the winter when daylight hours are limited.
6. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
On particularly frigid days execute the “10-minute test”. Give yourself 10 minutes,get dressed and go out for a run and if you’re still feeling it’s too cold or too wet, go back. The beauty of that is that you’ve still got 20 minutes of running no matter what.
Wind-chill factors, black ice and snowbanks shouldn’t signal the start of couch potato season!