Well, winter is officially here! As exciting as it is to see snow accumulating and chair lifts opening, the short days and cold temperatures make any attempt at sticking to an outdoor running regime much less appealing. Here are a few of my tried-and-true strategies to keep my milage up through the colder weather without resorting to slogging it out on the treadmill (aka "dread-mill").
Find a Buddy
We have all heard the saying "misery loves company", and while I don't really like to associate running with misery, having a companion can certainly bring some excitement to an otherwise lack-lustre solo run. Making a date to meet for a run also keeps you accountable and more likely to get out of bed to lace up your runners in the morning instead of hitting snooze. And the best part? Now you have someone to to enjoy your post-run brunch with.
Reflective gear and headlamps
For all you nine-to-fiver's out there, these winter months do not provide much daylight outside of business hours to enjoy the great outdoors. Safety first - when you are heading out in the darkness make sure that you can see and be seen. Find some outerwear that has sufficient reflective or fluorescent detailing and don't be shy to rock a headlamp to light your path.
Dress for the elements
Our coastal climate can bring in a wide range of precipitation so it is best to be prepared for anything and everything. Wet days usually equal warmer temperatures so you can get away with less layers. The more layers you wear (especially if they happen to be cotton) soak up moisture like a sponge and can weigh you down. Single layered moisture wicking materials are going to be your best bet in the rain.
Cold weather can be more tricky - you want to dress warm, but not so warm that you sweat too much and get a chill. I usually go for a 3-layer approach:
- Base Layer: this layer is the most important because it is in contact with your skin. it is crucial that it is synthetic and moisture wicking to keep you dry.
- Insulation Layer: depending on your cold threshold, this layer may be optional. Fleece is a good option as it will retain heat and can still wick any moisture thats creeping through your other layers.
- Outer Layer: this baby is going to protect you from the elements. Finding a jacket that is wind-resistant, water-resistant AND has the option for ventilation with pit zips is an ideal trifecta of features. Throw on a hood and a little extra length to cover your bum and you'll be ready to brave the most blustery of days.
Strip down STAT
During exercise your vessels will dilate to increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to your working tissues. Following exercise, these same vessels constrict to regulate your body temperature and bring it back to its set point. Combine this with a uniform of wet, cold running gear and your core body temperature can drop significantly. Get your wet clothes off as quickly as possible and change into warm, dry wear to avoid getting chilled.
Know your limit, play within it
While these tips can help to enhance your winter running experience, don't try to be a hero - nobody will be impressed when you come home with frostbite, and hypothermia is nothing to brag about. Be aware of the conditions before you head out and plan your route accordingly. When going outside isn't an option, take advantage of the opportunity for an extra strength training session, stretch it out in a yoga class, hit the slopes, or just treat your body to a rest day.
How do you stay warm and motivated to run through the winter?