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Alexa is a keen runner who loves to run long on the trails. She’s also a Running Coach at On the Run Health and Fitness (http://www.ontherunhealthandfitness.co.uk) and has a passion for helping people to fall in love with running and making improvements to what they can achieve. Alexa is writing a series of blogs for SportsCover Direct to give expert tips on training for runners. To read more find Alexa at http://alexaruns.blogspot.co.uk/ and on twitter @abitlikealexa.
Winter seems to have really arrived this week and after a couple of conversations and articles on social media about winter training I got thinking about the impact winter and it’s cold, rain and darkness has on running, mine at least.
I had a chat with a cyclist at the running club who said her cycling season was now properly over so she was back running again for the winter season. The cross country season is underway, although without a car a will really struggle to get to many/any of the races. I found myself reaching for a different selection of running kit, but more on that later.
I’ve also seen some talk about how winter is off season in running, which I don’t believe. It’s busy season for off road events at least!
I quite like winter training, with enough clothes you can stay warm (unlike in the summer where you can’t escape the heat past a certain point). It’s a beautiful time of year with autumn leaves, frost and maybe even snow. It’s also often less busy on the trails and paths, which I prefer especially at the weekends.
So what to watch out for?
– ice, mud, slippery leaves etc can make slips and falls more likely. I end up wearing off road trainers most of the time, even for road runs and pay more attention to surfaces changes. How deep might that puddle or pile of leaves be?
– getting too cold; a proper warm up is all the more important to not over work cold and stiff muscles and damage them as a result. Try adding strides (short faster bursts) to your warm up later on to get things warmer quicker
– wrapping up properly; gloves and a hat as a start. Just plain wooly ones to start with. I only find I need technical ones on long runs. Layer your clothes, one of my normal short sleeved tshirts over a long sleeved Tshirt suits me well. Consider buying a warm base layer or mid layer to wear over that when it’s even colder and a jacket. For jackets I try to get one that’s wind and rain proof as it’s fairly rare that you get one without the other! Long tights are a favourite of mine too; some even have wind and water protection built in to the fronts of the legs.
– being seen; there is lots of high viz running clothing on the market. Luminous coloured jackets are popular, choose one with reflective panels or detailing to further increase your visibility. Bear in mine that luminous yellow and orange have been proved to be the most visible colours in poor light. As I already had a running jacket and they can be quite pricey I bought a high vis bib; it clips together at the sides, is luminous yellow with big reflective panels front and back, has a detachable led red light on the back and only cost £14. You can wear it over anything.
– seeing! I have had to change some of my running routes now the days are shorter because it’s impossible to run on roads without street lights after dark. I head more into the built up areas where the lighting is good, the pavements are wide and drivers (hopefully) are expecting to see more pedestrians. Even then I sometimes take a head torch with me; often not on my head but wrapped around my wrist so I can see more of the surface ahead of my and others can see me coming towards them. Other pedestrians and drivers pulling out of side roads and driveways often fail to see me despite the high vis (headlights not pointing at my so reflective strips not lit up perhaps?)
– I personally love running in the rain. You know at the end of the run you will be back home and can jump straight into the shower and change into warm dry clothes. My two tips would be; get a decent rain jacket. Gore text is great, but many jackets without it are good too, including mine! If you get one with a mesh lining it will get less damp and sweaty feeling. Try and get one that says it’s breathable. Also wearing a peaked cap helps keep the rain out of your eyes!
As the nights get colder and darker I am appreciating club nights at the running track more and more. Good lighting, safe surface, warm changing nearby. I means a lot of your winter running woes are avoided.