We may have had one of the warmest January’s but we are making up for it in February. Just in time to mess with your spring race training.
Some of you may like the challenge of training in the elements. Then there are some of you that prefer to stay inside. Myself and those with more expertise than I, have some tips for all of you.
Today we are going to address running outdoors. For those of you that don’t prefer the extra challenge of record low temperature’s I will have some tips for you next week.
There are number of things to consider if you are going to train for your spring races by running outdoors this winter.
First let’s talk about clothing. Dressing for the elements is more than just adding layer upon layer.
NO COTTON! Your favorite warm cuddly college hoody is best left at home as a reward after your hot shower. Dr. Stuart Weiss of the New York Road Runners, recommends that the layer against your skin be synthetic and sweat wicking. The outer most layer should be wind resistant and waterproof.
Keith Hanson from Hanson’s Running Shop, reminds us not to overdress. Overdressing can cause you to perspire too much and become colder. Keith recommends the Brooks Utopia Thermal tights. (of course you can pick these up at Hanson’s Running Store, and mention you are on Team Total Health Systems and you can get 10% off)
Don’t forget to plan accordingly for your extremities and head. On colder days opt for a hat that covers your head and your ears, on warmer days just an ear warmer will do. Both your hat, and gloves should be wicking material. I do like gloves specifically designed for runners. Many of them can be used with your smart phone. What I find especially useful is the terrycloth material usually on the thumb and inner wrist area that there to “catch” any drips from your nose. If it’s extremely cold and or windy protect your face with a face mask, scarf or turtle fur.
Running in winter months may also mean running in dark, or at the very least at dusk or dawn. So be sure you can be seen. Keith Hanson has just the thing for you with the Brooks Nightlife jacket. Some runners will also opt for a head lamp. I urge to error on the side of caution, you can not be too visible.
Before you head outside you need to do an inventory of the route you expect to take. Most of my shorter runs, 4 miles or less, I do in my neighborhood. This makes my recon work pretty easy, as I drive thru I take notice what the side walks look like. If mostly covered in snow, I might head out in an old pair or running shoes and just enjoy and nice slow shuffle. If the sidewalks look very wet and full of puddles from melting snow, I head to the treadmill. If the sidewalks are a combination of snow, ice and clear side walk I head to the treadmill. I only had to fall once under these conditions for me not to repeat. It was a horrible experience. I took my dog with me, thinking I was doing her a favor by getting her out of the house, but we both fell. I don’t know who was more
scared. I was scared she was hurt and she was scared I was hurt. Fortunately neither of us did get hurt. But not fun.
Don’t forget about Stoney Creek Metro Park. They do plow the running path there. Also try Oakland university or other college campus’s. Sometimes there are some wet or slick spots but as we get into longer training runs I recommend heading out there with a nice clear path versus the boredom of long miles on a treadmill.
There is something about being out there with other runners, fighting the elements and enjoying the quiet, the peacefulness and the brisk fresh air. Whether you are running in your neighborhood or on your favorite running path, running in the winter is like running on a new course. Everything looks new to you again. I encourage your try outdoor winter running at least a few times.
Next week we will talk about how to make the most of our treadmill training runs.