Friday, November 14, 2014

Winter Running

Living in Ottawa as an endurance athlete means embracing winter.  As I type, the snow is coming down and this is only the beginning.  We get pretty wickedly cold temperatures and last year we had lots of snow too.  Apparently, we are expecting even worse weather this winter!  Well, I hate running on the treadmill, but I have to get my training done, so I really embrace winter and continue to run outside.  There are some exceptions of course.  I won't do -30 degrees and sometimes the snow is too fresh and deep that I would have to break out some snowshoes, but for the most part, I continue to lace up and head outside all winter long.


Dress for the weather -

Invest in some good, warm clothing and accessories for running.  Wool socks, gloves (with the special finger tips so you can still use your electronics), warm hat, lined running tights, a balaclava, a light weight but warm jacket.  Some of my favorites are Sugoi Subzero tights, this Nike running jacket (though mine is neon yellow), my North Face gloves, and Smart Wool socks. I'm very excited for my new winter running shoes from New Balance too. They will keep my feet warm and dry! Yaktrax are great too.

Shine Bright -

With low visibility as the days get shorter, make sure you can be seen by cars and other runners. Look for clothing with reflective strips and find lights that work for you.  I have a head lamp and a light-up arm band to make sure that I can see and be seen.

Focus on mechanics and good form -

Winter running can help us focus on not overstriding, since it is often safer to take smaller strides.  Don't forget to focus on body posture and cadence.

Focus on Time and Effort vs. Speed and Distance -

When the conditions are tough, rather then setting yourself training goals based on paces or distances, focus on the time you will spend running and the level of effort you wish to achieve.


Work on your lower leg strength and stability (and core strength too!) -

With slippery conditions, it is important to continue to build your lower leg and ankle strength and stability.  Try lunges that finish with lifting your knee to chest, plyometrics, one-legged squats.  Core strength is super important for stability.  Planks are probably your best option!

Don't forget to stretch and use your foam roller for recovery -

I found that my muscles were tighter and more sore after a winter run, since I was using so many muscles for not only forward propulsion, but also stabilization.


Run with a buddy -

Safety is a big thing for winter running.  And so is accountability.  A running buddy will help motivate you to get out on your run! It sure helped me last winter.  And in case you slip and fall, you'll have someone with you to call for help. If you can't find someone brave enough to run with you, always carry your cellphone, ID, and credit card with you in case of emergency.


When it is colder, we often forget to hydrate properly.  Continue to drink plenty of water (and electrolyte enhanced drinks) pre- and post-run.

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