Getting the Most Out of the Winter Seasonby Patti and Warren Finke, Team Oregon
Can't quite get out the door? Hate getting wet? Just don't wanna do it? Yes answers to these questions trouble many runners in the winter time. Let's look at some suggestions to keep you training throughout the winter or wet months so that you're ready to race again come spring.
Running in the ColdCold is usually not as hazardous for the runner as is heat. With exercise metabolism, the body is able to maintain a constant core temperature in air temperatures as low as -22F. This is regulated by internal mechanisms and not necessarily by the heat produced from exercise. Shivering can be seen during exercise when the core temperature is low. Under this stress, oxygen consumption is higher than when doing the same amount of exercise in warm weather.
Common sense tells you to be comfortable while running; this is also true in cold weather. Both body fat and clothing act as heat conserving mechanisms. High body fat is not conducive to good performance and is not common in runners, so most must learn to dress warmly. It is often difficult to determine how many clothes to wear in winter conditions. The heat generated by your body can be seven or eight times as great when running as it is at rest leading some runners to overdress at the start of their run. On the other hand, if you are dressed to be "just right" when you are running hard and you must slow down or walk due to fatigue or injury, you risk the threat of hypothermia. When you couple this variation in the body's heat generating capability with the rapid changes possible in winter weather and the loss of insulating properties of clothing when it is wet, the following guidelines emerge.
Safety ConcernsAfter daylight savings time is over, many of us run mostly in the dark. The dark presents a number of safety problems. It is also often raining when it's dark, making runner visibility to cars very difficult. It is important to wear apparel that can be seen by motorists and cyclists. The best is a reflective vest. Jackets, T shirts, tights and shoes can be purchased with reflective strips. The most visible spots seem to be on the moving parts such as shoes,legs and arms. Not all shoes come with reflective strips , but you can buy stick on reflective material. You can also purchase flahing red led lights or run with a flashlight which helps on uneven roads.
The best places to run are areas where its lighted. Pick lighted streets with sidewalks or lighted bikepaths. Some running tracks have runner lights that can be turned on.
It makes sense to run away from cars, such as on a bike path or the sidewalk. Always run facing traffic so as not get hit from behind. The most dangerous crossing is in front of a car turning right with the driver only checking out what's coming. Never step in front of this car without recognition from the driver. It may be safer to run behind the car if you cannot confirm the driver sees you.
Women face more safety problems and must always be careful when running alone. The early morning hours seem to be a time when perverts are out. The best ideas are to run only in areas that you know are safe, and run with a companion or companions. Try to hook up with other runners or get a canine companion. Dogs can be fun to run with and great protection. They need to be trained for endurance, should run on a leash and never disagree with you. It would be a good idea to sign up for a personal safety program. These are often available from local Police departments.
Planning for the cold wet dark months of winter can keep your running on track. We hope we've given you a few ideas to keep getting you out the door this winter.
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