March has arrived and if you’re like me, you’ve got the itch to get outside and go running. Living in Wisconsin, if often seems that spring is a long time in coming. This year is no exception as the air is still cold and the snow is still falling throughout much of the country. But why should that stop you from running? The answer; it shouldn’t! Here are a few quick tips to help you forget about the cold and get out on that run!
Pump yourself up
Get motivated! It can be difficult to gather the gumption to head outside when the weather is nasty, but early spring has so much to offer that it is worth braving the elements. The warm sunshine and longer days. The sound of early returning birds, the smell of the wet earth. The feeling that you get passing landmarks and recognizing that you are actually getting in some distance. Running on a treadmill can be monotonous so break the shackles of indoor training as now is the perfect time to get back outside again!
Stretch and Hydrate
Many people don’t know that your body works just as hard, and can sweat just as much, in colder temperatures. Drinking lots of water and some light stretching may help cramping and straining. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you should change the way you warm up and prepare for a run.
One thing that I have learned over the years is that if you layer clothing with the proper fabrics and materials, it can be a game changer. Specifically, I’m referring to merino wool and synthetics such as polyester and polypropylene. Why use these instead of cotton? Well, as the saying goes, cotton kills! But realistically, cotton is a poor performance layer. The reason being is that when cotton gets wet, it fails to insulate and it doesn’t dry very fast, leaving you cold and miserable. For heavy activity like running, using merino wool and synthetics is a better choice because they wick the moisture from the skin and transfer it away from the body. This will keep you warmer and drier. Another advantage of merino wool is that it naturally doesn’t hold onto bacterial odor. The harder you work and sweat, the better the fabric performs! Merino wool and synthetics are used in everything from socks and long underwear, to shirts and hats.
Windproof, but breathable, clothing options are also a worthy addition to a cold weather runner’s arsenal. Nothing is more unpleasant than running with a cold wind penetrating your every step. Most athletic clothing brands will make “soft-shell” fabrics that are wind-proof and water resistant. These are often available in a wide range of thicknesses to accommodate temperature variations. Almost all soft-shell materials are pretreated with a DWR coating. DWR stands for durable water repellent; it’s a coating that protects the outer fabric of a garment and repels water. These I find are the most useful pieces of clothing in my closet. I like to use products that are soft-shell material on the front, with stretchy and breathable materials on the back.
Footwear: Just because it’s cold and wet doesn’t necessarily mean you need different shoes. But if it’s really wet, having a set of waterproof running shoes can help immensely. Many shoe brands offer Gore-Tex or other waterproof material that can keep you dry while allowing your foot to breathe.
A nice accessory to running shoes during this time of year, that have gained some popularity as of late, are strap on ice cleats. Most people know them as “Yaktrax”. But Yaktrax is just one of many bands of over the shoe ice cleats. These are great for icy conditions and even snow pack on the trail or sidewalk.
Whenever I leave the house my wife always reminds me to be careful. It can be real icy out there when you have a lot of freeze and thaw cycles occurring. Watch out on corners and steps. One slight miss-step and you can end up in a nasty fall.
Enjoy the day, you’re outside!
Lastly, don’t forget to mix up your favorite flavor of Mike’s Mix recovery when you get home. Remember- Stronger tomorrow!
Thanks for reading, Remo