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Tuesday, November 10

Little Jack Frost (Frankie Carle)

It’s my favorite time of year!  The leaves are falling and the breeze is chilly.  This is when I schedule my marathons, because it's a great time to be a runner!  But it can be a frustrating time if you've just started running and have never had to brave the elements.  

Just like you need to prepare for the heat of summer, you’ll want to take precautions in the icy winter.
  • Get Motivated – Enter a race.  Make a running date.  Tell yourself “just five more minutes.”  Find a tree, and pick it off.  Find what motivates you.
  • Arm Your Feet – Try to find shoes with Gore-Tex uppers, or at least very little mesh.  Wear socks that keep you warm, but not sweaty.  You can’t run on popsicles.
  • Get Dressed – Dress in layers of sweat-wicking fabric.  Here is a general guide :
    • 30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (or shorts, for polar bears).
    • 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
    • 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket.
    • Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of mittens, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.
    • Minus 20 degrees: 3 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 extra pairs of mittens, 1 balaclava, sunglasses. Or, says Arribas, "Stay inside."
  • Be Seen – It stays darker and gloomier, generally, in the winter.  Snowbanks may make it hard for drivers to see you.  So wear reflective, neon-colored clothing, and light yourself up (if it’s dark)!
  • Warm up Pre-run – Jump around inside the house before heading out.  Get the blood moving, and don’t start out cold.  You wouldn’t turn on your car and hit the highway without letting it warm up, would you?
  • Deal with Wind – Start your run into the wind, if possible, and finish with it hitting your back.  You don’t want a face-freeze when you’re sweaty, and maybe the gusts will give a little extra push!
  • Change Quickly Post-run – Strip down and get out of damp clothes as soon as you return.  Then drink something hot to warm you slowly.

Take it to the Next Level :  Maximize the Cold Weather

  • Turn up Your Warm-up  Stay in constant motion.  Start with a jog that accelerates to tempo pace for the last two minutes, then continue with dynamic stretches and drills like high knees, butt kicks, and skipping.  Finish up with four to six strides, and jog the recovery.
  • Ease Into Speed  Even after a vigorous warmup, your muscles will be cooler than usual, which raises your injury risk. Start with a tempo run of 10 to 20 minutes, or several long intervals of 5:00 or more, and gradually transition to shorter, faster repeats.  Save all-out efforts for last, when your body temp is highest.
  • Think Effort, Not Pace  Knowing your pace can be demoralizing, thanks to slippery footing and/or your seven layers of clothing; so lose the watch, and focus on your effort.
  • Recover Actively  Alternating periods of all-out running with complete rest causes big swings in heat production. Keep the hot/freezing effect to a minimum with gradual shifts between easy jogging, moderate running, and hard running.
  • Head Uphill  Winter training demands flexibility. Postpone or move up workouts as Mother Nature dictates. And when deep snow makes sessions like long intervals impossible, run hills to mimic the intensity. Run up, jog down, and repeat. Focus on maintaining good form, springing forward with each stride.
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