My Fitness Diary 4: Tips for Running in Autumn/ Winter

Puddles, wet and frosty fallen leaves... this picture was taken a couple of Novembers ago  on one of the streets where I now run.

The week before last week my husband very kindly treated me to a hi-viz waterproof, windproof running jacket and now I can really see the reason why: if I choose to run in the early evening it's getting darker and colder, and often drizzly. I am starting to come across drifts of slippery fallen leaves on the pavement, and sooner or later I'll face running on frost. All that got me thinking about the hazards of bad-weather running, and how I can prevent injury and stay safe, so I did a little research and found the following advice:
  • What you wear is really important; you can damage muscles as well as catch a chill if you're underdressed, but get uncomfortably overheated of you're overdressed. Dress as if it's a bit warmer outside than it actually is.Thin layers and wicking (moisture-drawing) fabrics are recommended, so that you can get rid of excess layers.
  • Hands should be kept warm with running gloves or fingerless mittens on very cold days, and you can wear thicker socks as long as they're still comfortable.
  • About 40% of your body heat is lost from your head, so put on a hat. You can even wear a scarf over your mouth to warm the air up before you breathe it in and tp protect your face. (I'm presuming this is only for the coldest of days.) You can actually get frostbite while running- be aware of tingling, pallor and numbness in hands and feet.
  • If you have asthma, be aware that cold air can trigger an attack.
  • If it's frosty and snowy underfoot, try to stick to running on the snow rather than the frost, as it provides more traction and you're less likely to slip and fall.
  • Re-think when you run, as early mornings and evenings will be darker. You won't be as visible to traffic, and you'll probably may find it harder to see, too. Hi-viz/ reflective clothing or bands are good. If personal safety is an issue after dark where you run and you can't run anywhere else then carry an alarm with you.
  • Carry your mobile phone with you in a zipped-up pocket, in case of accident or other emergency such as getting lost in a snowstorm.
  • In icy weather, try not to run where there is a lot of traffic due to the increased risk of a car skidding out of control and into you. Always run facing oncoming traffic.
  • Petroleum jelly (eg Vaseline) on your nose, cheeks and knuckles can help protect against cold wind.
  • If conditions are wet or icy focus on your running surface and run around puddles to keep your feet dry and look out for black ice. If you have to run on an icy surface take shorter strides and slow down a little to give yourself a better chance of keeping control if you start to slip. If you enjoy running to music, think about leaving your i-pod at home if it will distract you from watching where you are running.
  • Consider using a shoe tag or wristband with your name and emergency contact numbers on it. Let someone know when you set off and your route before you leave.
  • Make sure your running shoes are not so worn that they have no grip on the soles; if they get to this stage, it is likely that they have lost their "bounce" anyway, and will not be good for you to use in any weather.
  • Finally, give yourself a little tlc after a cold run and soothe your muscles in a hot bath.
Well, apart from having missed a few days last week from being too tired after work, I'm still running and haven't had any problems yet, although my quadriceps in both legs are often stiff and sore from all the work they're getting used to. I'm hoping this will stop soon as I get fitter. I'm still doing a mile or 3/4 mile only, but I have noticed I've got a lot faster recently.
PS: This morning I took it steady and ran 2 miles :-)



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