We are nearing the end of the year. The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, and you are getting tired. This must mean that it is time to hang up those running shoes and begin a five month period of hibernation so that you can pack on the pounds and conserve energy in order to be at your best physically, once spring rolls around. Right?…Wrong. Despite the fact that sleeping in and packing calories without the thought of consequence sounds heavenly, the truth of the matter is, we are not bears, and doing either of these things is extremely counterproductive to us as human beings.
Now that you know hibernation is not an option, what do you do? The first option that a lot of runners will go to, is the dreaded treadmill. Even if you happen to own one of these things, by now, you know how awful and monotonous they are. For those of you who don’t have one, you’re not missing much…all the good stuff is right outside your door.
How do I run through the winter, you might ask? Well, I have some tips that may prove helpful in overcoming this barrier:
The first thing you must consider when heading out on a cold run, is of course, what you are wearing. When compared to the hot, summer months, when you can only take so much off, the winter months allow us to put on as much or as little clothing as we need, in order to stay comfortable when out on the road.
When out in the cold, you lose a reported 40% of your body heat from your head, and up to another 30% from your extremities, so it is extremely important to have a good, warm hat, pair of gloves and socks. Depending on the temperature, a mask or neck warmer may also be needed. I would avoid a black mask, as to not be mistaken for a robber or serial killer.
The next thing on the apparel list is,a good, long-sleeved dri-fit or Under Armour shirt. This will serve the purpose of keeping sweat and moisture away from the core of your body, allowing you to maintain essential heat, and avoid turning into Mr. Freeze in the process.
When thinking about pants, you may want to first consider the amount of leg hair you have. If you are borderline Sasquatch, you may be able to skip this section. If not, a good pair of tights (not pantyhose), or jogging pants are needed. I prefer the “Mc Hammer-style” pants with pockets and the tapered legs. Although I may look like I am about to bust a move, the convenience of the big pockets allows me to shed any unnecessary layers, and keeps my lower legs and ankles from getting snow on them.
Last on the apparel list is of course, shoes. A good pair of Gortex or waterproof trail running shoes will not only keep your feet warm, but the traction will prevent most slips on the snow and slush, and they make the coolest tracks that may serve as your “bread crumbs” when trying to find your way back home.
As a final note, enjoy this time of the year in your training. It is a time when speed work-outs can be replaced with snow-bank hurdling, and when a warm cup of hot cocoa can take the place of ice water or an energy drink.
It is the most wonderful time of the year. Get out there, enjoy this winter wonderland, and come spring, you will be glad you did.