Winter is coming and it's time to get ready for winter running! You do run during the winter months, don't you? Of course you do. Why wouldn't you? Cold weather running gives you a much better workout. You will burn up to 12 percent more calories and 32 percent more fat as your body tries to maintain its temperature and wears extra, heavier clothing for warmth and protection. Winter running is so enjoyable once you get going!
For many runners, winter is their favorite running season. It's a great way to enjoy the outdoors when it's cold and they don't have to contend with the discomfort of heat or humidity. Running outdoors is a great way to increase our vitamin D levels which are usually lagging in the short days of winter. Something to keep in mind to help those of us who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Convincing yourself to go running in cold weather is sometimes the most difficult part. All runners attest to the fact that running in the cool, fresh air is very enjoyable. Just start running and you will quickly get warm!Say good-bye to the winter blahs!
Dressing appropriately for cold weather running makes all the difference. Your clothes should be warm but not bulky. Dress in three layers - a base layer, a thermal or insulating layer and an outer windproof shell or a warm soft shell for those really cold weather days.
Wear a base layer of wool if possible. Wool has the added advantage of keeping you warm and dry longer in cold temperatures. Synthetics get wet and you will quickly feel cold when you stop running. Wool will keep you warmer even if it is slightly wet. Wool running socks are another very useful addition to your running kit.
Mittens or convertible mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves. Gloves separate the fingers so they take much longer to get warm. Trail running shoes or waterproof running shoes will help keep you safe and dry in slippery, wet conditions while winter running.
A neck warmer or buff can be used to protect your neck and face and it helps warm the cold wind, making breathing easier. A buff has the added advantage over a beanie as it can worn so many different ways.
However, make sure you don't dress too warmly. Overdressing makes running more difficult and can cause excessive sweating making your clothes wetter than necessary. Before starting to run, you should be feeling a little chilly in your running clothes. You will quickly get warm as you start to run. Dress for winter running—not winter walking!
When you are finished running, change your clothes as soon as possible. Your running clothes will be wet with sweat and you will get chilled quickly. Have a change of clothes with you for after your run if not heading right home.
The slippery and icy conditions that winter brings may increase the risk of injury. You can make adjustments to reduce the risks.
If you are nervous while running on slippery conditions, you will be tensing your muscles. Learn how to relax your body while running. Even if you do fall, chances of you getting hurt are greatly reduced if you are relaxed.
You may need to adjust the intensity of your workout and shorten your stride. Do hill training while running outdoors and keep the speed work indoors when surfaces are slippery. Slow down when changing direction or making a quick turn to avoid slipping or pulling a muscle.
There will be many winter days when running outdoors will be quite safe using reasonable caution. However, there will be times when common sense tells us to find another way to run or train. The conditions underfoot should be one of most important determining factors. If it is extremely icy and slippery or if the sidewalks (pavements) are not clear and the streets too narrow with snow build-up, you should probably choose not to run outdoors.
In extremely cold temperatures, i.e. -22°F(-30°C), you would be wiser to hit the treadmill or an indoor track. You don't want to risk hypothermia or frostbite. Both can be quite dangerous.
Hypothermia occurs when your core body temperature drops below normal. The heat loss is greater than the amount the body can generate to maintain its core temperature. The core temperature must be maintained to keep the body's metabolism and normal body functions working.
Mental confusion, shivering, slurred speech and clumsiness are all symptoms of hypothermia. If you or any of your running mates experience these conditions, immediately get to a warm, dry place and seek medical attention. Do not let the person affected fall asleep.
Frostbite happens when skin is exposed to cold temperatures for a period of time. The body reacts by stopping the flow of blood to that area to protect the rest of the body. With no blood flowing to that area to keep it warm, it will begin to freeze and cause damage the skin and underlying tissues. It is more likely to happen in areas furthest away from the heart, such as hands, feet, nose and ears.
Symptoms include white, pale skin with blotchy patches. The area will have numbness and possibly pain. Pressing on the area will leave an indentation rather than immediately springing back to shape as it normally would.
Treatment for frostbite includes warming the area with warm water (not hot). The area will become red and you may experience tingling and pain as the area heals.
You really want to avoid getting frostbite as the effects may be long lasting. It can create scars and circulation problems in the area. In more serious cases, gangrene can develop and amputation may be required. Seek medical attention as soon as possible for treatment.
Overall the benefits of winter running greatly outweigh the risks. Winter running builds character. Just knowing that the cold weather can't stop you from training will greatly increase your confidence and help you maintain your running fitness for the spring.
The winter months can be so long and depressing without an enjoyable activity. Change how you think about winter. If you have not run in winter before, give it a try and find out just how amazing it makes you feel! Go winter running and find out just how much fun it is!
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