Okay, for the last few months, fall weather has been keeping the door closed to true winter, but let’s just say, I think fall decided to take a break beginning right around Christmas and now we have some true winter temps . . . if not mid-January temps! I called my folks in Wisconsin on Christmas Day and they were looking forward to -3 on Wednesday . . . for a high . . . windchill around -30 for several consecutive days. Yikes!
Down here in Southwest Missouri, I’ve been blessed to have weather in the 20s, but as the New Year is approaching, the real cold is headed our way, with temps dropping to 15 for a high on New Year’s . . . and I’m guessing my family and friends to the north are looking at temps even more . . . brisk.
I had actually started another blog, but when I saw what the temps were doing, I decided to go another direction. When the temp drops and drops fast, not to mention into a range where it can be VERY dangerous, it’s time to talk about running safety.
It may be boring, but do laps where, if you start hurting or need to get something to drink, you’re never far from home. I’ll never forget running long in the cold and my water in my water bottle turned into ice slush and the nozzle was frozen open! Luckily my route took me by numerous restaurants where I could go in and run the bottle under warm water and use it again.
Of course, what I did once that was a great idea (or at least I thought), I decided to do a run with a friend in very cold weather and higher winds . . . , but we ran WITH the wind and worked it out that someone would pick us up . . . worked great (it was an awesome run) EXCEPT that our ride was delayed by 20 or 30 minutes and we were both DONE (couldn’t run any farther) . . . the sweat on some of my clothing turned to ice as we were out on a highway with a wide shoulder (no businesses to drop in on to wait and be warm) before our ride showed. So, running WITH your cell phone wouldn’t be a bad idea in case you do get into trouble and need help (or your ride doesn’t show up). : )
Protect your lips (some kind of balm) and use a neck gator that you can pull up if needed. If it’s cold enough, you could consider using the full head/face/neck gator . . . just be sure to pull it down off your face if you enter a gas station or store to warm up, use the restroom, or get a drink so you don’t get people calling security! : )
Put Vaseline on your feet and hands to help retain heat.
Gloves are great for manipulating things, but mittens keep your hands warmer.
Just because it’s c-c-c-cold out DOES NOT mean you should take for granted that a lake or pond is frozen thick enough to cut across on a run.
Layers are best – start with something tight to the skin that wicks, followed by a heavier wicking turtle neck, followed by a loose layer to trap heat, and then something on the outside of that to protect against the wind . . . at least that’s what I prefer.
After an icy cold run, DON’T head for a nice hot shower or bath . . . head for a nice lukewarm shower or bath because hot water will feel like scalding water.
For me, I try to avoid speed work and/or paces that leave me gasping for breath because it tends to make my throat raw, cause me to feel chilled, and if I’m running hard it means I’m sweating (even if it doesn’t feel like it at first — you’ll notice it when you slow down and the cold makes that hot sweat icy).
If the wind is more than 10 mph, the wind will be a pretty big factor in cold temps. That means break out the heavyweight tights . . . I know sometimes I’ve worn a pair of short tights and my fleece tights over them and then a pair of shorts.
Head gear, I like ski hats and fleece. Sometimes I use a headband with a hat over the top of that to protect my ears more.
I sometimes find that I get so caught up in getting the warmth I need, that I forget about visibility. If I’m running in the day, I try to go with black and maybe something bright (gloves or hat or wind vest) so there’s strong contrast in color; if I’m running when it’s dark out, then I wear a headband with a highly reflective hat and wind coat that also is reflective. The reflective tabs on your shoes are not enough to rely on.
If you accidentally spill your drinking water on your shoes or break through an iced-over pot hole of water and your foot/feet get wet, head straight for home or if you’re far from home, make the call for a ride and get to the nearest store to stay warm in. Your extremities already struggle to stay warm. Depending how cold you get before you get home depends on whether or not to change into another pair of shoes and continue the run or just try to thaw your feet.
Just remember, it’s going to take a long time for your muscles to warm-up, IF they ever really do, so be careful that you don’t press the pace because your leg muscles will struggle with their elasticity.
Always give weather the respect it deserves – you are the one that will have to adjust. If you approach severe cold with the “I’m not going to change my routine/approach just because of the weather,” weather is going to win that battle.
Well, those are my thoughts on a frigid Christmas Day and soon to be a “Frigider” New Year’s Day. : )
Have an awesome run today – stay warm!
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