MANAGE THE ELEMENTS with planning. Runner’s World offers a 10 x 10 approach to running in frigid temperature weather in two articles published this and last year. The 2015 piece encourages beginners to get outdoors, “10 Reason’s to Get Out and Run Even When It’s Dark and Cold”, by Susan Paul. In the 2016 piece written by Vishane Lee, “10 Tips for Running in the Cold” the advice involves valuable information on how to dress from the feet and up (#2 & #3) to brave the elements. There are also helpful suggestions on how to get yourself out the door (motivation, #1; pre-run warm-up routine, #5), get it done it (mindful of wind, #6; precipitation #2 & #9; physical limitations, #7; safety concerns, #4), and finish up (post-run warmth, #8).
From my experience it’s relatively clear that attention must be paid on what to wear for warmth, protection from windy and wet conditions, and visibility. It’s fun to shop online or in stores for items that fit our needs. Whether or not we can or wish involve other runners to help with motivation is an individual preference.
However, the aspect of cold weather running that often is ignored because it requires significant advance thought and preparation, concern the winter running course. For example, tip #6 discusses how to “deal with the wind”. The quoted experts wisely suggest running INTO the wind on the outbound leg of your route and WITH the wind on the inbound leg, or breaking your run into back-and-forth segments to avoid spending too much continuous time facing the wind. If these tips are to be helpful the wind direction must be known in relation to the course. Below are a several situations that you might prepare for to enjoy a winter run of any distance:
1. If you drive to a multi-mile course that works best for a longer distance run, locate safe parking at both ends of the route so it’s possible to follow the rule of running out into the wind and back against it, and start at either point. Or park in the middle and run to and from your car in both directions. This can be good for safety, as you are never too far from warmth if it’s required.
2. If it’s a very wet (raining, sleeting) or slippery day locate a covered parking structure in which to run. Perhaps your own apartment/condo area will have relatively dry pavement and shelter you from the falling precipitation. Or, a friend’s building will work best; arrange beforehand with them to obtain access. You might drive to a mall with a structure or underground parking; best to run before or after opening time. Intervals can be run on these smaller routes.
3. If the wind direction is more swirling than straight-line, changeable, or unpredictable be ready for this situation by having scouted a block that will give you 4 sides of differing wind direction. The article says that tall buildings can block the wind, but these structures can also tunnel wind. A neighborhood area with trees and streets cleared of snow is ideal.
As far as facial skin protection in windy conditions, using BodyGlide is suggested in the article by John Stanton, a Canadian and founder the Edmonton Alberta’s Running. I’ve not done that but have applied it to prevent chafing elsewhere on the body. The old formulation received a rating of 2 by the Environmental Working Group (nothing listed for a newer formulation. It deserves a trial! The article also mentions Vaseline™ petroleum Jelly (EWG rating of 1), and a Kiehl’s™ facial cream (All Sport Non-Freeze Face Protector), which no longer seem to be available.
There is a product designed for skiers to prevent sun and wind burn, Original Ski Balm, that contains beeswax, with no EWG rating found. Rocket Pure™, a brand marketed for athletes as not having harsh chemicals, has Friction Free Stick, an anti-chafe balm that is as paraben-free, for which a rating by EWG was not found.
Not mentioned but also important is eye protection in the wind and sun.
Find appropriate routes and enjoy your winter runs; proximity to a coffee shop is not a must but a luxury.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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