As we head into the season of colder weather and shorter days, many of us may not have any major races on our immediate schedule. Others of us may still be new to running and not sure what to do during these days of snowy roads, chilly winds, and extra darkness. I asked Coaches Sharon Johnson and Lisa Cross to speak about off-season training focus and running in the cooler (who am I kidding?) COLDER weather!
Many runners want to run faster. Runners frequently jump right into faster and longer workouts.
Very often, they are skipping the most important step; working on developing the correct movement pattern in their gait.
I often see runners compromising their form because they have weak or tight areas. These weaknesses do not allow for proper movement and usually lead to INJURY.
The winter is a great time to step back and look for the true obstacle. What's holding you back from reaching the next level or causing those unintentional training breaks?
You’ll need to identify your movement weaknesses with a thorough assessment.
Once identified, spend a few short sessions per week working on your specific weaknesses.
It’s also a great idea to include a few key muscle stabilizing exercises in your weekly routine (stabilizing muscles are those muscles responsible for keeping parts of the body stable so that the primary movers can do their job efficiently). Single leg balancing exercises are a great example of an exercise to improve your stability muscles.
I guarantee you that if you spend a bit of time working on identifying and eliminating those movement problems next season you will be pleasantly surprised! Your body will be much better prepared to ramp up the speed and volume workouts. Most importantly, you will become a stronger and healthier runner.
This video focuses on balance exercises that will help you get a feel for your own individual strengths and weaknesses. You can play around with the different exercise options. Many people quickly discover that one side is better than the other regarding flexibility, strength and balance. After a few sessions you should have a better sense of what areas you need to focus on.
It’s getting cold outside here in New England, but a runner’s gotta run, right?
With a little preparation and some experimenting along the way, very few weather conditions will curtail your planned run as winter weather becomes our reality for the next few months. Everyone's a little different so finding that perfect balance of what to wear in what kind of weather will take some trial and error. This varies with each person depending on internal body temperature, the pace at which you run, and how much you sweat. If you are new to running, you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you. When selecting clothes for chilly temperatures, keep in mind that along with temperature, wind and precipitation will also affect how it feels out there and that you’ll warm up once you start moving.
Below are some guidelines to help with the process.
Use a 3-layer strategy to stay warm and dry
The secret to having a comfortable run in different cold weather conditions is, you guessed it, layering! Layers offer the ability to adjust and stay comfortable as you warm up or cool down during your run
Wicking base layer: The layer closest to your body should be made from a synthetic wicking material. Cotton is not a good choice for your base layer—once it gets wet, you'll stay wet.
Insulating layer: Your second or middle layer should be an insulating material, such as fleece to help trap some air to keep you warm, yet release enough vapor or heat to prevent overheating.
Windproof and waterproof outer layer: This layer should protect you against wind and precipitation, as well as allow heat and moisture to escape. Wear a jacket with a zipper so you can regulate temperature.
Here are some basic items to have in your cold-weather box of tricks
Hat, beanie, buff or headband
Light, Medium and heavyweight base layer shirt
A running jacket
Running mittens or gloves - Pro tip: socks can work in a pinch!
Running pants or tights
Merino wool or tech fabric running socks
All of these items should be made from moisture-wicking materials like merino wool, polyester, or other synthetic fabrics that dry quickly and remove sweat from your skin
Happy Winter Running!