Winter might be the time to cool your racing jets, but a regular running program is a must to keep you fit and primed for a new year of competitive running. Whether you are training to race or just for the love of your sport, here are seven tips to help keep you charged up for life until the weather warms.
- Layer your clothing with a wicking base layer, warmth layer and wind layer. Use mitts and light gloves to protect your hands. Use longer and thicker socks in running shoes that fit you well. Cover exposed skin when temperatures drop below -15C. Watch the wind chill, too. Use goggles and a facemask or balaclava. Men should make sure they wear wind resistant undergarments and/or pants!
- Running in cold temperatures increases the mechanical ground forces that are transmitted through frozen footwear. Often, runners complain of sore knees and hips after their first run in colder weather. Vibrational forces cause some of this soreness and residual body ache. To avoid too much discomfort, slow down and run less. If your typical long run is 90 minutes, best to reduce that by 25 per cent. I rarely prescribe runs longer than two hours when the weather is cold. But I do advocate longer snowshoes to build durations and minimize risk of injury. Make sure your calves and achilles are conditioned for snowshoe running or hiking.
- Slow Down! With cold air and running surfaces that are far from ideal, allow yourself to run slow, breathe easy and stay warm. With all the additional clothing that increases body mass and frictional resistance, your effort to run a certain pace is greater. Accept a slower pace.
- Hydrate continuously on runs greater than 90 minutes. With additional clothing that likely increases sweat rate, dehydration can occur quickly. Ideally your pace should be slow enough to minimize perspiration. A water bottle waist belt works well, but should be worn under the wind layer to prevent freezing.
- Wear soft tread shoes and try non-slip shoe covers that have steel studs. These choices will reduce slipping and allow for a slightly longer stride length. Be mindful to strike the ground with your midfoot and not your heel, allowing for the greatest tread contact. This change will likely slow your pace and even stimulate a higher cadence to reach your normal run speeds.
- Do your hard running and intervals on an indoor track or on the treadmill. Frequent speed intervals build cardiorespiratory fitness, maintain neurological co-ordination at higher speeds and challenges the body to handle higher ground forces.
- And after you’ve put in all that hard work… book a destination race somewhere warm to enjoy your efforts!