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March 8, 2013 at 2:15 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Find Your Inner "Mister Snow Miser": Preparing for Winter Runs

By Jeff from SLN More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Running with Sole Blog Series

I don’t know about you, but I’m not in love with the winter months. All that snow. All that ice. All that COLD. Sometimes I just—pardon my French—Hate It! But when it comes to running, call me Mister Snow, Mister Icicle, Mister Ten Below! That may be too far…but really, the cold doesn’t have to be an excuse. You don’t have to put your running on hold until the ground thaws out.

Some people may stick to the exercise but opt out of the cold, and that’s fine for them. I know some people like using their treadmill, which could be an option - especially if your preferred treadmill has a design that allows for some cushioning. If you’re willing to shell out the cash for a membership to a facility with an indoor track, that could be a viable option too. But maybe you want some changing scenery while you run, and maybe you don’t want a membership to some fancy club, and maybe, just maybe, you’d rather have it cold.

Don’t worry, you won’t freeze

When it comes to running in the cold, some may have some reservations as to whether it can be done safely. As far as breathing is concerned, it may be uncomfortable at first, and it’s possible that any breathing conditions may become more noticeable. However, any discomfort in breathing should go away after a few runs, as your body adjusts. Your mouth warms and adds humidity to the air you breathe before it reaches your lungs by taking it away from your throat. If you throat becomes sore, try wearing something over your mouth to get your throat feeling chipper again.

So, what are you wearing?

When it comes to your outfit, get ready to layer. A nice sweat-wicking base layer is preferred, with enough additional layers to keep you warm – but not overheat. A nice top layer is just the icing on the running-attire cake. What icing do I like? Windproof icing: I don't enjoy chapped patches or windburn on my back after a run. On a side note, zippers are nice. It’s nice to have the ability to easily adjust your level of protection to suit the changing wind/body temperature during a run without taking it off and leaving it somewhere. But if you do, make sure to remember where you left it.

As far as shoes are concerned, EVA foam holds up the best to the cold temperatures, and less ventilating will keep your toes warmer. Richetta Coelho reports that the Running Club North of Fairbanks, Alaska, suggest duct taping shoes for insulation or warming shoes with a hair dryer for five minutes from a foot away (too much heat will have negative effects on your shoes). 

You may also want to have some gloves or a knit hat, just saying. 

Going for the run

Just a few reminders to keep in mind when you brave the elements. You may want to adjust your running schedule so that you’ll have adequate daylight - the sun waits for no one. Be watchful for any ice - no one wants to take a spill and act a fool, but it happens. I pity the fool.  If there isn’t a good way to avoid it, take it slow, maybe even on all fours... okay, not really. Try that at your own expense.

Especially in the winter, it’s a good idea to note the direction of the wind. Instead of saving a demoralizing headwind for the end of a run, start out in that direction. You’ll be more apt to conquer it and, as a plus, warm up faster. Also, consider that your ability to feel pain is decreased, and, therefore, your ability to feel a new injury is decreased. So, just take it easy, and don't push yourself too far.

Got a lot of snow?  There are shoes for that.

Showshoes that is! From what I understand, running in snowshoes is a lot like running in general, just with a wider stance and lifting knees higher. Be aware that harder, packed snow is easier to run on than fresh powder and you’ll want to wear running shoes under your snowshoes. Oh, and you may want to wear something waterproof.

If you’re serious about trying it, renting could be a good option in the beginning. Try them on first on carpet or grass if it’s warm out. A soft, grassy lawn shouldn’t damage your shoes, and you can get a feel for how they behave.

After the workout

Now that the neighborhood knows you as Mister Snow Miser too, swap your running rags for something warm. It can be nearly impossible to warm up in clothes saturated in cold sweat from a winter run. Some “cold” targeted, sweat-wicking materials can be somewhat absorbent and keep you from feeling warm.

Don’t forget to stretch while your body is still warm from the run and hydrate. And why not grab a hot cup of hot chocolate when it’s all over? You’ve earned it. I’m proud of you. 

Grab some marshmallows for me.

Sources:

Bowman, Ronald H., Jr. "Winter Running." Hill. Hillrunner.com, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.

Davis, Ben. "4 Cold-Weather Running Tips for Beginners." Active.com. Active Network, Inc., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.

Jhung, Lisa. "How to Run in Snowshoes." Runner's World. Rodale Inc., 17 Feb. 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.

McManus, Melanie R., and Rchetta Coelho. "Winter Advisory." Runner's World. Rodale Inc., 29 Dec. 2005. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

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