TWIN FALLS • Tired of the treadmill?
It took me a long time to realize that winter running can be as easy as summer running with the proper gear and preparations. Getting started is the hard part. You can get yourself in trouble quickly if you dash out unprepared in the middle of a snowstorm or in unholy temperatures.
You should prepare to invest about $200 in good gear — it is money well spent. Winter running can help keep you in shape through the holidays and make you faster and more conditioned than those who stick to the treadmill. Running three or four times a week in the winter can also help alleviate the holiday blues or seasonal depression.
Also, who doesn’t want to feel like a hero braving conditions that keep other lightweights cozy and warm inside?
It’s best to seek the advice of a seasoned winter runner you trust for specific questions about clothing, routes and other expertise. But I’ve been through one winter season of running and learned a few things along the way.
1) Don’t skimp.
Take stock of your running gear. Set aside all your cotton items; keep only synthetic materials. Your most important investment is in a good base layer of polyester/elastic-blend compression pants and top. These should be snug, yet comfortable. As you layer, your clothes should get looser. Usually, you pay for what you get and nice layers last a while, so plan to invest some hefty coin.
2) Temper your expectations.
Let’s say you can keep an 8-minute-a-mile pace for five miles in the summer. If you expect the same results in the winter, you will either injure yourself or be disappointed. The cold, not to mention any snow you may be tromping through, can really slow you down. Until you have a handle on how your body reacts to a winter run, don’t set speed or time goals.
3) Dress before bed.
You may have found that getting out of bed early in the winter is tougher than in the summer. Your mind usually pictures Antarctic conditions outside, and you conveniently remember your warm coffee, hot shower and toasty bagel. My solution? Dress in your winter running clothes before bed (minus the shoes if you prefer). That way you have to undress not to run. Double bonus: This cuts on the cost of home heating.
4) Start small, work up.
Like most training, you should undersell your running abilities to condition your body. This is also a good way to make sure you haven’t under- or over-dressed. There’s nothing more miserable than getting two miles in and realizing your toes are ready to snap off. Start with a mile or two at first and cut your regular mileage in half for a few weeks. By doing this I discovered how my body adjusts as I run in various temperatures — around mile two I get the cold sweats, but if I keep running I eventually warm up.
5) Hold yourself accountable.
Once you’ve figured out your abilities, get accountable. Find a friend who’ll allow you to text them your expected mileage in the morning and send them a photo of your route, GPS watch or other mileage-keeping device.
6) Don’t be “that runner.”
Yes, winter running is cool. Yes it makes you feel like a superhero — especially after a warm shower — and leads to less general whining. But for goodness sake don’t be “that runner.” No need to tell the whole office about your post-holiday meal heroics, or post-snowstorm six-miler. Take pride in the solemn fact that you’re one of the few runners not tied to the treadmill, or worse, the sofa.
My winter running gear:
1) Shoe studs — rubber saddle for shoes with steel grips for snow and ice conditions.
2) Layered compression pants and shirts. Synthetic blend of 80 percent polyester, 20 percent elastic.
3) Fleece and neoprene face wrap with ample nose and breathing holes.
4) Head lamp for early-morning and late-night safety.
5) Synthetic skull cap under wool or cotton beanie.
6) Polarized ski goggles to combat wind rain and snow. Keeps eyes warm and vision unimpaired.
Other gear includes old pair of summer running shoes; wool athletic socks; loose running shorts; and synthetic athletic-style gloves.
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source: Magic Valley