Although the term “Winter Wonderland” might suit the beautiful scenery that we get to witness during the cold season with the snow forming a white blanket everywhere, it can be a nightmare for runners. Their biggest and most justified fear is that they will slip and break a bone. While running on a treadmill or cycling indoors are alternate choices, they don’t appeal to regular runners in any way!
Here are a few quick pointers to keep in mind while running through the cold:
Take measures to prevent slipping
Your shoes need to have a solid grip on the hard ice and snow so that you can run with ease, and yet provide the comfort and stability like other training shoes. You can look up the process of making screw shoes that work well on snowy grounds by going online. However, it is recommended not to try making shoes on your own, unless you are well-versed with the technique or know someone who can make them for you. On the contrary, when winter sets in, run down to the local sports store immediately and get a pair of specially made shoes that are designed for running purposes on slippery, snowy grounds.
Look for a clear path
Keep in mind that university and college pathways are cleared faster than any other road, since they have their in-house maintenance crew and don’t have to depend on the city as such. Their paths are for pedestrians mostly, which is why there are fewer automobiles and less traffic. Similarly, roads situated near schools will be plowed quickly so that teachers and students don’t face problems while entering the campus. Cemeteries and office parks are the next options for running during winter since the traffic is slow on snowy days and these roads are among the first to be plowed. The only disadvantage is that you might have to run in continuous loops to get your mileage in. If you can track down any maintenance roads, where salt trucks and plows go back and forth, it will be a great stretch to run on as well.
Be careful while you are out
Always remember to run against traffic, so you can see what vehicle is coming towards you, judge if the driver can see you or not, and determine what they are doing or looking at. Sidewalks are sometimes not cleared enough to run, which means you have to do so on the roads. Be cautious when you come to intersections and cross streets when drivers take turns.
Keep yourself hydrated
Don’t be under the impression that since it is cold and dry outside, you don’t need to drink much water because there is less sweating as compared to summer. However, you tend to lose quite a lot of fluid in winter as well, so it is necessary to maintain your water intake after each run and also stay hydrated throughout the day.(more on hydration here)
Follow the direction of the wind – on your way out, run with the wind in your face and during the second half of the route, ensure the wind is at your back. If you choose to reverse this process, you will feel hot, sweaty, and tired during the first half and have to tolerate a very cold wind when you turn around. You need to protect your skin during winters, so use Vaseline on exposed parts of the skin such as the face. Vaseline is the best choice since it is waterproof and windproof as well, so the skin isn’t damaged in bitter winds. Purchase a jacket with wind-breaking features as it can keep the arms and upper body extremely warm.
Use a mask
Did you know that allergies can be triggered by the cold and dry air? Quite a few athletes wear a mask to prevent themselves from being exposed to winter air that can sometimes cause bronchial spasms, which basically stops the air from filling the lungs. A mask also helps to warm the air before it enters the lungs. You don’t have to buy a mask like a ninja or a robber – a light mask that filters the air will suffice.
Keep shoes dry
The roads are bound to get slushy and wet during winter so put newspaper in your running shoes after you come back. This prevents the shoes from being spoiled as the newspaper absorbs the moisture and retains the structure of the shoe. Don’t make the mistake of putting shoes in a dryer, oven or under a heater as they tend to shrink the material and decrease shelf life.
Last but not the least, adapt your workout accordingly. If there is heavy snowfall, try to avoid running on that day – it is not worth slipping and falling just to maintain a routine. Injuries sustained during winter have been known to last till spring time, so evaluate the conditions well before stepping out so you don’t have to regret your decision later.