DR. BETTIE: Winter Running- Is the Weather Outside TOO Frightful?

DR. BETTIE: Winter Running- Is the Weather Outside TOO Frightful?

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Winter Running: Is the Weather Outside TOO Frightful?

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year.  (I mean, seriously hard to believe.)  And nobody hates cold weather more than Dr. Bettie.  (Pretty sure.)  What can we do to survive these harsh days?  Here’s a short list of advice, which I hope will help.

  1. The gear.  There is no shortage of advice on this, with posts already available on Coach G’s main blog.  A bullet summary:
    1. Windstopping shell, upper and lower.  I find the more cash I shell out for the quality, the less crap I have to layer up.  Lots of name brands to choose from, but probably anything geared toward running, with “windstopper” on it, is decent.  (I personally love North Face, but I had to promise that nobody needed to buy me anything for a couple of Christmases as a result.  Nuff said.)  Outer vest is also an option.
    2. Base layer.  If the weather is 15 degrees or warmer, I find the windstopper suit with a light sweat-wicking shirt inside is enough (like those underarmour, polypro type deals).  If it’s colder, an extra layer of tights and slightly thicker upper layer is helpful. Something with Merino wool is particularly effective; there are multiple thicknesses available.
    3. Extremities.  Hat and gloves, duh.  May consider doubling the gloves when it’s less than 15 degrees.  I’ve also noted that fluffy hats (with no windstopping ability) kind of suck when the digits are single outside; ear muffs could help here, or better yet, one of those ski hoodies that also includes neck/face/head coverage.  And lastly, don’t be a ding-dong and get all suited up only to put on your regular cotton socks and shoes (like I did last week – brr!)…. Throw on the smart wool socks, or the like.  Otherwise, I do NOT feel that “snow running shoes” are necessary, and the usual running shoes will suffice.
    4. Extra comforts.  Gators are kind of nice if you are trudging out on ungroomed trails.  If it’s actively snowing outside, don’t forget the viser/hat with brim – snow in the eyeballs can be annoying and somewhat painful.
    5. Safety.  Those yaktraks are a swell idea.  I just bought some.  And of course, try to run close to home or have a backup plan (cell phone etc.) if something goes poorly.
    6. General rule.  Stepping outside and feeling cozy?  Step back on inside, take off a layer, and try again.  (You overdressed.)
  2. Indoor warmup.  This is a great way to get your core warm, which may take longer than usual in the chilly outdoors – and may help you feel a little better just getting started.  Nothing crazy here, just a few pushups, situps, maybe a few jumping jacks should do the trick.
  3. Consider changing your stride – just a little – in the snow.  This is for obvious safety reasons, with questionable footing and potential room for slippage out on the wintry trails or roads.  Shortening your stride will keep you more compact and stable, with less potential to tweak a knee or wipe out.
  4. And finally… When is it too cold to run outside?  Everybody has their own personal threshold.  From a health/safety standpoint, I have seen colleagues claim that even 20 degrees below zero is “okay”.  (If you’re completely nuts, that is.)  My own threshold is “double digits”, but sure, I’ve gotten out there in 8 degrees and lived to tell the tale.  On the other hand, I also joined the Betties for our indoor treadmill workout this morning – and that was a pretty darn awesome alternative.

Happy Running and keep warm out there!